Saturday, 24 May 2014

Review: China Dolls by Lisa See

In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her?

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by Random House
Terri's Thoughts
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Random House via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is June 3, 2014.
This was an interesting read for me.  Caught up in the glitz of the nightclub scene and the "Oriental" showgirls before and during the wartime.  It was fascinating to read about this era that I had no previous knowledge of.
The core of this story centralizes around Grace, Helen, and Ruby who are three best friends on the circuit together.  Their relationship was competitive and deep rooted at the same time.  Let me tell you that I would not want friends like these with everything they put each other through.  Without divulging any of the plot you see both the good and the bad of all of the characters.
I did have some issues with all three of the friends.  I found that I did not particularly like any of them.  They were self centered, selfish and put themselves before others many times.  I believe that is the whole point of the story.  That people can find each other and learn to accept them for through all of their flaws.  That friendships can be complex and fragile.
This story also has an interesting cast of supporting characters.  Some you will love and some you will hate.  They all serve the purpose of spinning an interesting tale.
At the end of the day this is a different read than I am used to and I really enjoyed it.  It evoked feelings of anger and laughter within its pages.  For a read that is just a little different than the norm I would recommend this.
About the Author

Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.


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