The author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls has garnered international acclaim for her great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate. Read more...
The author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls has garnered international acclaim for her great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate. Now comes Lisa See's highly anticipated new novel, China Dolls. It's 1938 in San Francisco: a world's fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition. The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything. Praise for China Dolls
"Superb . . . This emotional, informative and brilliant page-turner resonates with resilience and humanity."--The Washington Post
"This is one of those stories I've always wanted to tell, but Lisa See beat me to it, and she did it better than I ever could. Bravo Here's a roaring standing ovation for this heartwarming journey into the glittering golden age of Chinese nightclubs."--Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"A fascinating portrait of life as a Chinese-American woman in the 1930s and '40s."--The New York Times Book Review "A sweeping, turbulent tale of passion, friendship, good fortune, bad fortune, perfidy and the hope of reconciliation."--Los Angeles Times
"Lisa See masterfully creates unforgettable characters that linger in your memory long after you close the pages."--Bookreporter
"Stellar . . . The depth of See's characters and her winning prose makes this book a wonderful journey through love and loss."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"China Dolls plunges us into a fascinating history and offers an accessible meditation on themes that are still urgent in our contemporary world."--San Francisco Chronicle
"China Dolls is Lisa See's] most penetrating since Snow Flower and the Secret Fan."--The Seattle Times
Book Clubs: A virtual doppelgÃ¤nger
Joshua Ferris’ dazzling third novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, is a masterfully crafted work of black humor that will please fans of his acclaimed debut, Then We Came to the End. New York dentist Paul O’Rourke, the novel’s protagonist, is a full-fledged curmudgeon who has forsworn social media. He isn’t out to win any popularity contests with his patients or anyone else, and so the appearance on the Internet of a site dedicated to his practice comes as a true surprise, as do the Twitter and Facebook accounts in his name that follow. Unsettled and angry, Paul sets out to find the party responsible for establishing his unwanted online presence, a quest that brings him into contact with a bizarre religious group. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in a book that explores the nature of contemporary relationships, the quest for identity and the complexities of communication. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this hilarious, probing, complex book is sure to spur lively conversation among reading groups.
BUFFETED BY WAR
Set in World War II-era San Francisco, Lisa See’s China Dolls traces the lives of three young Asian-American women who embark on careers in an exotic nightclub called the Forbidden City. Each of the women trades a troubled past for a future of glitzy possibility: Grace Lee wants to escape from her violent father; Ruby Tom is chasing dreams of fame; and Helen Fong seeks release from an oppressive home life. The three of them meet with varying degrees of success as performers at the club. Though they share similar ambitions and a strong sisterly bond, the three nurse suspicions of one another. When the war begins, their friendship shatters. Ruby, who is of Japanese descent but has been passing as Chinese, is sent to an internment camp. As the war escalates, the women find they must adapt themselves to a world that will never be the same. See’s portrayal of the dynamics and drama that enliven female relationships makes for compelling reading. This is a captivating work of historical fiction that satisfies on every level.
TOP PICK IN BOOK CLUBS
With Redeployment, which captured the 2014 National Book Award for fiction, Phil Klay offers up 12 powerful stories about the Iraq War. Klay served in the conflict as a Marine Corps public affairs officer, and his work has the sort of immediacy and intensity that can only come from first-hand experience. Each of these first-person tales has a different narrator; each provides a unique perspective on the experience of war. In the book’s title story, a soldier returns home after a seven-month absence, and the difficulties that ensue as he readjusts to civilian life range from humorous to heartbreaking. “Unless It’s a Sucking Chest Wound” features a disillusioned veteran who makes his way through law school only to ponder a public-service career path after graduation. Klay writes with consistent authority about life at the frontlines and its inescapable repercussions. There’s no romanticism in these searing stores, just honesty, passion and skill—lots of skill.