Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I was a huge fan of Lisa See's novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to get an advance copy of her latest release, Shanghai Girls!
Pearl and May are sisters living what they considered to be a fabulous life in Shanghai in the 1930s. Beautiful and without worries, they partied, slept late, and generally enjoyed life. A financial situation their father is embroiled in changes everything. The sisters are married off to men living in Los Angeles but before reaching America find themselves on the run from the Japanese who have invaded Shanghai. Their lives in America are not what they were led to believe, and the sisters bring to their new home a secret that must not be revealed. Time passes, the sisters adjust to their new life, but as always seems to happen, fate intervenes again and changes everything.
If you're looking for an uplifting book - this isn't it! That's not to say I didn't enjoy it since I tend to like depressing books, but really, there is not much good that happens to these sisters. And even when things aren't going terribly bad, there is still a sense of melancholy that surrounds these women. It was interesting to learn about the point of view of Chinese immigrants and the particular challenges they faced coming to America. I tend to read more of the Jewish/European immigrant story so this was educational for me.
I couldn't help but compare Shanghai Girls to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. In that respect, Shanghai Girls just didn't resonate with me in the same way the previous book did but I still found it to be a satisfying read. The ending of this book is rather unexpected and open ended. Things were really left hanging; on the plus side we may have another book about these characters, on the other hand, I think some readers will be put off by such a cliffhanger of an ending.
In other news, the girl has her first piano recital this evening. How cute is that! She will be playing piece called Pillow Fight which her teacher thought suited her personality - and she is right!