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# Novel《BRAN-NEW + Hardcover Edition + A Beautiful & Heartbreaking Story Fiction Of Two Sisters》Lisa See - SHANGHAI GIRLS

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1 month ago by trustexplatform

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★★ NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ★★ ★★ The novel received an Honorable Mention from the Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature ★★ "A gifted writer . . . explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience.” -- USA Today Shanghai Girls is a 2009 novel by Lisa See. It centers on the complex relationship between two sisters, Pearl and May, as they go through great pain and suffering in leaving war-torn Shanghai, and try to adjust to the difficult roles of wives in arranged marriages and of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. This work marks a return to many of the themes the author addressed in her first major work, In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . Until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules. At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are: Shanghai girls. Shanghai Girls is divided into three parts: Fate, Fortune, and Destiny. Pearl and May are sisters, living carefree lives in Shanghai, the Paris of Asia. But when Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, they set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules Here See treats Chinese immigration from a personal view through Pearl's narration. In On Gold Mountain she objectively placed 100 years of her Chinese family history in the context of the daunting challenges Chinese immigrants faced in coming to America in search of Gold Mountain. America's mistreatment of Chinese immigrants is stressed in both memoir and novel. The sisters' story is interrelated with critical historical events, famous people, and important places—the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battle of Shanghai, internment at Angel Island, Los Angeles Chinatown, Hollywood, World War II, the Chinese Exclusion Act, McCarthyism, etc. Historically significant people appearing in the novel include Madame Chiang Kai-shek, actress Anna May Wong, film personality Tom Gubbins, and Christine Sterling, the "Mother of Olvera Street." Snow Flower and the Secret Fan explores the complex relationship between two intimate friends. In Shanghai Girls See treats the loving yet conflicted relationship between two best friends who also happen to be sisters,especially in the context of their relationship to Pearl's daughter Joy. In speaking of Shanghai Girls, See has commented: "Your sister is the one person who should stick by you and love you no matter what, but she’s also the one person who knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt you the most." That being said, in Shanghai Girls it is the love of Pearl and May for each other that survives. In short, Lisa’s See’s new novel, Shanghai Girls, provides a rich experience for its readers – taking them from the splendor, highlife, glamour and poverty of 1937 Shanghai to the struggles of Chinese immigrants to survive a virtual internment on Angel Island, off the coast of San Francisco, to the almost impossible challenges of trying to build a life in Los Angeles Chinatown in the context of an America that does not want them and treats them cruelly. But despite its rich background, Shanghai Girls is ultimately the story of two sisters – Pearl and May – who desperately strive to help each other survive and at the same time replay in their minds and actions old rivalries, jealousies, and hurts. The summary of the book on See’s web site puts it well: “They love each other but they also know exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other sister the most.” This is most dramatically shown in the novel’s climax. Pearl, speaking in first person, is the narrator, taking us from 1937 to 1957. This time period matches Parts IV and V of See’s On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family. The perspectives are different, however. In the memoir See is scrupulously objective in treatment family members, herself, and issues very close to her. Pearl lets us experience some of the same American experiences but from a different perspective and from the inside. Late in the novel, Pearl reflects: “We’re told that men are strong and brave, but I think women know how to endure, accept defeat, and bear physical and mental agony much better than men.” This is certainly true of Pearl herself. Growing up in Shanghai, the Paris of Asia, Pearl and her sister May live lives of privilege. Being a Dragon, Pearl is seen by her parents as a fiery, strong daughter who can take care of her self-absorbed Sheep sister. By the time she is 21, Pearl and May enjoy the status of being Beautiful Girls, Pearl rather insensitive to those who serve her and her wealthy family. But then Pearl’s journey into suffering begins. Her father loses his money in gambling debts and the sisters are forced into arranged marriages. The Japanese attack China and Shanghai is attacked by air and the country invaded. In the process Pearl and her mother are brutalized by Japanese soldiers and her mother is killed. Having lost everything, Pearl and May are forced to flee to America to find their husbands. Surviving a grueling stay at Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the West), Pearl can only hope that her husband Sam and his family will accept her since she is bringing with her a new born daughter named Joy. Much of Shanghai Girls centers on Pearl’s attempt to adjust to life as a member of the Louie family. While May seeks happiness outside the home in her new country, especially in terms of her many associations with the glitzy world of Hollywood. Pearl sees her life as unending drudgery as she is locked into a routine of cleaning and cooking, working in her father-in-law’s various business enterprises, and caring for Joy. In addition, she is largely responsible for caring for Vern, May’s young and critically ill husband. Although her father-in-law gradually comes to include Pearl, May, and Joy as true members of his family, Pearl grows closer to her mother-in-law, and discovers that her lower class husband is indeed an Ox in the truest sense, deeply loving and caring for his family. Her new Christian and much older Chinese values are tested by the terrors of the McCarthy era of anti-communism accompanied by serious mistreatment of most Chinese people. At the end of the novel the two sisters directly confront each other at last, venting all the anger and hurt each has repressed previously. Despite being very angry at May for what Pearl feels are very good reasons, May’s attacks and self-defense make her realize that she may have been mistaken in many of her core beliefs over the years. But finally it is Joy who saves Pearl. When she reaches the point where she will give up everything for Joy, Pearl truly becomes her mother’s daughter -- and in the process becomes the Dragon she was meant to be. About the Author Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.

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