China Dolls

A Novel

See, Lisa

Book - 2014
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
China Dolls
"The New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony In Love, Shanghai Girls, and Dreams of Joy returns with her highly anticipated new novel. A bold and bittersweet story of secrets and sacrifice, love and betrayal, prejudice and passion, China Dolls reveals a rich portrait of female friendship, as three young women navigate the "Chop Suey Circuit"--America's extravagant all-Asian revues of the 1930s and '40s--and endure the attack on Pearl Harbor and the shadow of World War II"-- "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?"--

Publisher: New York :, Random House,, [2014]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780812992892
Characteristics: 383 pages ;,25 cm


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Feb 23, 2015
  • saturn rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

The book was a page turner but I felt the writing was a bit disoriented. I also did not like the relationship between the females it felt superficial and immature. It was like reading about females who act like children who work in a nightclub. I was hoping it would be a good book I liked how it was set in SF in the 1930's and 40's. It just did not feel like a authentic Chinese novel about 2nd generation Chinese females. I have heard that others books written by this author are much better than this one.

Oct 02, 2014

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?

Oct 01, 2014
  • booklady413 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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.

Aug 14, 2014
  • occy rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this novel. Definitely one of those "hard to put down" reads.

Jul 24, 2014

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.

Jul 15, 2014
  • finn75 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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.

Jul 11, 2014
  • aisha65 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

l loved this book. I have also read several of Lisa See's other novels and have enjoyed them as well.

Jul 11, 2014
  • writermala rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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!

Jul 10, 2014
  • alexica rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

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.

Jul 08, 2014

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.

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Jun 21, 2014
  • SpringAltman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Three young women of Oriental descent become friends thru the turmoil of late 1930 thru post war 1940. The story follows the twists and turns of their relationships with each other, their reunions, their falling outs, their betrayals and their re-evaluations of each other.
It also gives a historical account of what life was like for Americans of Chinese and Japanese descent during this time period


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