Interesting enough everyone of the characters were "passing" as someone else and never wanted to be true self: all three girls, Eddie, Joe, Charlie, Ivy, Japanese interment camps, even Helen half bred son. That is the take away and the back drop is all the beautiful scenery of Treasure Island, Chinatown, Forbidden City nightclub, Choy Suey circuit, Locked up as a victory girl and getting examined for STDs. True even as little kids Chinese White Black Native Indian; we all wanted to pass for something not as the true self we are now as old people I appreciate the non passing part. I am just me. Thank you
I liked this book and found it different than what I usually read..The book intrigued me and as I read it flowed well and the characters were seemingly real people...Easy to read and fast..
This historical fiction novel follows the lives of three young Asian women who become performers in San Francisco’s “Chop Suey Circuit” during the WWII era. While I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this slice of history, I had a tough time investing in the characters because their relationship becomes so entangled in secrets, betrayal and cutthroat competition. Frankly, I was a little relieved when their story drew to a close.
I enjoyed this book. Well written. History that I was totally unaware of. Well worth the read.
not well written and not a good in-depth portrait of immigrant Asian women trying to make it in America's frenetic pre WWII culture. Interesting plot, too bad it was so poorly written.
I enjoy Lisa See's books and this is no exception. It's a fun, interesting story and the voices of the narrators was well done, giving each of the girls a personality and style.
However, I found this to be a rather superficial story about beauty & fame. I really liked the historical & cultural aspects.
An enjoyable story and one to be recommended but not my favorite Lisa See book.
Lisa See writes about friendship and being Asian in an unfriendly pre-war 1938 era in America. Ruby, Grace and Helen are dancers at the Forbidden Garden, a club primarily for Asians. As WWII approaches and begins with Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, secrets will be revealed, lives changed and friendships tested. An enjoyable and enlightening experience.
Did not care for this book - did not finish it. I found the dialogue stilted and formulaic - hard to believe they talked the way author portrays them as talking in the thirties - "I so wanted to hit her." Really?
*** stars. 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? **** I usually really like Lisa See's novels, but this book fell a little short with me. I thought the "great denoument" was telegraphed with a partial revelation. I have enjoyed her mysteries and her novels set in historical China much more. I did not bond as successfully with these characters.
Fascinating period in California history; disappointed in the 3 narrators.
This descriptive, richly detailed novel introduces three Asian-American nightclub performers in San Francisco's Chinatown. Grace, a talented dancer, has fled both her sleepy Midwestern hometown and her abusive father; Helen, a recent arrival from China, feels as free on stage as she feels trapped by the traditional lifestyle of her family; and Ruby is Japanese but determined to hide her ethnicity in order to protect herself as hostilities between the U.S. and Japan escalate. As the trio navigates the "Chop Suey Circuit," their friendship will be put to the test by secrets, betrayal, and a world at war.
Historical Fiction July 2014 Newsletter.
This is the first Lisa See book that I haven't loved. Her writing style in this one seems much more like that of Amy Tan; more YA than adult fiction.
I love Lisa See's novels. She tells a great story about female experiences and relationships. This book is no different. A very interesting story of the lives of three very different women in the entertainment business in the 30's and 40's when racism was the norm.
l loved this book. I have also read several of Lisa See's other novels and have enjoyed them as well.
I'm a huge fan of Lisa See, and her latest book "China Dolls" did not disappoint. Ruby, Grace, and Helen tell their stories of friendship, betrayal, and love in a really poignant way and it is quite heart-rending. The historical issues dealt with like discrimination, war, and internment are handled well. All in all a very well told story. If you are already a Lisa See fan you will love this novel. If you have never read Lisa See before, this is a great place to start - you will end up reading all her other novels too!
I founf this book very disappointing. The writing was awkward and the plot elements rather unbelievable. The women seemed to act unnaturally, more to move the plot along than have their stories unfold. I'm a fan of Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston was was hoping for more vivid writing and engaging characters. See's topic is terrific. I just wish the book fulfilled it's promise.
China Dolls spotlights the undertold story of Asian-American entertainers during the 1930s and 1940s through the story of a trio of women who become a complex constant in one another's lives. China Dolls shines in its portrayal of female friendships - messy, but long-lasting. The novel's historical and cultural details illustrate the prejudices of the time, while the girls' journey fills the reader with intrigue, joy, disappointment, and courage.
I wanted to love this one, because I love Lisa See's writing and have read most of her other books. I found it lacking however. It's typical Lisa See in that she explores the relationships between women of Chinese descent and how their actions and choices affect their own futures, but I wasn't moved to connect with the characters. It felt like she was rushing a bit in her storytelling. I still read and enjoyed it, but not in the same "couldn't put it down, loved those characters" sort of way. Also after reading a few Lisa See books in a row, I was able to predict outcomes and patterns in her writing, so as the story unfolded there were no surprises.
I saw this in the "Most Wanted" and picked it up because of the author. I thought it was nowhere near as outstanding a literary work as "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" and that was a disappointment. The characters seemed sort of "light weight" but perhaps it was their interest in night club careers, which was not of much interest to me. Would not recommend it as a must read but ok for a beach read type book.