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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
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
"A spellbinding portrait of a time burning with opportunity and mystery." -- O: The Oprah Magazine
Lisa See was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown. She is of Chinese decent. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces the journey of Lisa's great-grandfather, Fong See. Her first fiction novel, Flower Net (1997) was a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and on the Los Angeles Times Best Books List for 1997. Flower Net was also nominated for an Edgar award for best first novel.
In addition to writing books, Ms. See was the Publishers Weekly West Coast Correspondent for 13 years. Her bestselling novels, all inspired by her Chinese heritage, include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, A Peony in Love, Shanghi Girls, Dreams of Joy and China Dolls. Among her awards and recognitions are the Organization of Chinese Americans Women's 2001 award as National Woman of the Year and the 2003 History Makers Award presented by the Chinese American Museum. See serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner.
(Bowker Author Biography)
Publisher's Weekly Review
In the beginning of See's (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) stellar ninth book, three young women, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, meet and form an unlikely but strong bond in San Francisco in 1938, as the Golden Gate International Exhibition is about to open. Grace has run from an abusive father in the Midwest; Helen is trapped by her traditional family in Chinatown after a devastating loss; Ruby is Japanese, desperate to pass as Chinese to stay employed as the U.S. moves closer to war with Japan. They become performers at the Forbidden City Nightclub and face the difficulty of being Asian in an Occidental world, as well as the additional conflict of prejudice within their own community. The novel spans 50 years, following the women's tumultuous personal lives and roller-coaster career choices. Yet somehow the three always find a way back to each other, and come through for each other in the darkest of times. The story alternates between their viewpoints, with each woman's voice strong and dynamic, developing a multilayered richness as it progresses. The depth of See's characters and her winning prose makes this book a wonderful journey through love and loss. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The lives of three young Chinese-American women Grace, Helen, and Ruby intersect in valuable and often violent ways in pre-WWII San Francisco as they shed their drab former lives to become glamorous entertainers at the city's rising hot spot, the Forbidden City nightclub. Despite their divergent backgrounds, a mutual desire to shatter the cultural stereotypes that doom them to lives of familial subservience feeds their ambition to prosper in a world in which the definition of success changes minute by minute. Though they've taken a one for all vow of eternal loyalty, each harbors secrets that cause a pervasive atmosphere of distrust to simmer just below the surface. When Ruby is revealed to actually be of Japanese heritage and deported to an internment camp, their friendships and fortunes suffer a mortal blow, one that only deepens as the war rages on. In her impeccably researched and distinctive historical saga of desire and ambition, betrayal and revenge set amid the glitz and debauchery of burlesque entertainment on the chop suey circuit, See (Dreams of Joy, 2011) again lavishly explores the thorny intricacies of female friendships. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The alluring setting of always-popular Lisa See's latest work of women-oriented historical fiction will be vigorously promoted in print, radio, and online as the author embarks on a 10-city tour.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2014 Booklist
Library Journal Review
The Chinese American nightclub era comes to life in See's (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) latest novel, which revolves around three young women coming of age in San Francisco during World War II. Grace, Helen, and Ruby meet and become instant friends while auditioning as showgirls at the Forbidden City, a Chinese nightclub and cabaret. But then the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor happens, and everything changes. The girls soon discover that they each carry secrets that will shake one another to the core. As the world slips further into war and tensions regarding Asian Americans rise, each woman's livelihood, heart, and strength will be tested. Can the seductive Ruby, dutiful Helen, and "white-washed" Grace find a way to keep their friendship alive? -VERDICT While this novel is definitely slower paced than the author's prior works, See's many fans will still enjoy watching each protagonist's true story unfold; they will also be intrigued by the vivacity of the "Chop Suey Circuit." These colorful and fascinating historical touches tie the story together perfectly and form an exquisite backdrop for the adventures of the three friends. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/13.]-Chelsie Harris, San Diego Cty. Lib. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.