Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: China Dolls by Lisa See

China Dolls by Lisa See book cover and review
Lisa See once again immerses her readers in Asian culture in China Dolls.

Three women, with very different family backgrounds, meet in San Francisco in 1938. Grace has run away from her Iowa home and only wants to be a star. But although she is Chinese, her family is very Americanized and she doesn't even know what a chopstick is!

Helen has grown up in her family's home in Chinatown, and her parents are very traditional.

Ruby is ambitious but doesn't talk much about her family. She's willing to take risks to get what she wants.

These women become fast friends as they navigate the world of Chinese-American nightclubs. They become dancers and at times rivals. They support each other and pump each other up, but the business is as times cut-throat and brutal.

There are secrets and betrayals; they drift apart and together as they navigate the climate during WWII and beyond. Romance is present, but the main focus of China Dolls is the bond between these women.

China Dolls is narrated by these three women in alternating chapters. It took me a while to become comfortable with each voice so I could tell them apart.

China Dolls is historically accurate and includes several well-know popular figures of the time. The story is well paced, and See does a good job of revealing secrets and providing drama to keep you hooked. None of her books could ever top my love for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, but China Dolls was a very satisfying reading experience and I recommend it to fans of Chinese culture and historical fiction. China Dolls is appropriate for teen or adult readers.

Published by Random House, 2014
Ebook obtained from the library
400 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I've wondered if this book was as good as Snow Flower. Have you read Shanghai Girls? I really liked that one by See. We read it for book club and several of the gals went on and read the sequel. I didn't, however, just because there is always a pile of books to get to. Will you be buying China Dolls for your library?

    1. Yes I've read Shanghai Girls and enjoyed it too. I probably won't put this in the library..I have Snowflower and some of her others. If they like those, I can always order China Girls through interlibrary loan.

  2. I've read and enjoyed a couple books by Lisa See. I'll definitely be checking this one out. Glad you liked it!


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