Shanghai Girls

Read Complete Research Material

Shanghai Girls

"Shanghai Girls" a novel by Lisa See is fiction set in a very real historical world. Those who enjoy Chinese-American history will appreciate this story of two cultures and two young sisters.  Although their bond is tested their devotion to each other endures the horrors they encounter during the Japanese invasion of China and their struggles after leaving for a new life in America. Lisa See tells a wonderful story and takes readers on a fascinating journey.

Shanghai Girls is a novel by Lisa See. In an important sense, it returns to the beginning of her major writing career. After publishing three murder mysteries largely set in China (Flower Net, The Interior, and Dragon Bones) and then following them up with two in-depth studies of the struggles of Chinese women in the 19th and 17th centuries respectively (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love), See now returns to many of the themes she emphasized in her first major work, On Gold Mountain. The 1937-57 time frame of the novel matches Parts IV and V of the memoir. The museum exhibit that See developed based on On Gold Mountain also provides relevant context for the new novel.

Shanghai Girls is divided into three parts: Fate, Fortune, and Destiny. It centers on the complex relationship between two sisters, Pearl and May, as they go through great pain and suffering in leaving war-torn Shanghai and try to adjust to the difficult roles of wives in arranged marriages and of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. Here See treats Chinese immigration from a personal view through Pearl's narration. In On Gold Mountain she objectively placed 100 years of her Chinese family history in the context of the daunting challenges Chinese immigrants faced in coming to American in search of Gold Mountain. America's mistreatment of Chinese immigrants is stressed in both memoir and novel.

The sisters' story is placed in the context of critical historical events, famous people, and important places -- the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battle of Shanghai, internment at Angel Island, Los Angeles Chinatown, Hollywood, World War II, the Chinese Exclusion Act, McCarthyism, etc. Historically significant people appearing in the novel include Madame Chiang Kai-shek, actress Anna May Wong, film personality Tom Gubbins, and Christine Sterling, the "Mother of Olvera Street."

In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan See explored the complex relationship between two intimate friends. With Shanghai Girls she moves on to treat the loving yet conflicted relationship between two best friends who also happen to be sisters, especially in the context of their relationship to Pearl's daughter Joy. In speaking of Shanghai Girls, See has commented: "Your sister is the one person who should stick by you and love you no matter what, but she's also the one person who knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt you the most." That being said, in Shanghai Girls it is the love of Pearl and May for each other that survives.

Pearl and May are two beautiful Chinese sisters living in pre-World ...
Related Ads