Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Review: Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

The story of two sisters who grow up privileged only to learn that their father has wasted their money gambling and has sold them as wives to pay off his debts. The girls flee Shanghai and their father's debtors on the heels of Japanese bombs in 1937 to Los Angeles and their husbands. As they adjust to life in America, they find themselves torn between holding onto their roots in Shanghai or growing wings and taking advantage of the opportunities in America. And always with a hint of sibling rivalry.

I didn't love this book. Nor did I have as strong an emotional reaction towards it as I did with The Lace Reader. I didn't enjoy the characters. They felt superficial as well as the plot at times.

The sibling rivalry seemed forced and almost like an afterthought most of the time. Like the author almost forgot that her book was about sisters and so threw in a subplot centered on the complicated relationship that is being sisters at the last minute. The sibling rivalry plot might have been bettered served being told from the perspective of both sisters. Though I'm not sure that would have entirely worked with this author's style.

The historical events were interesting. Though because the sisters were only marginally concerned with what happened around them as they were a little self-centered, you weren't given much information on those major events that helped drive the story.

Ultimately, I think the overall tone - which was very calm, unemotional and almost monotone - just didn't do it for me (I wanted to see Pearl have some passion) and will not be keeping it in my library.

Next month -
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Disclosure: No one paid me in any way, form or fashion to do this review.

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