Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Review for Shanghai Girls-Book Club pick for March
In our last book club's meeting in March at Graziano's over breakfast, a group of nine of our 15 member club discussed Lisa See's Shanghai Girls. This recommendation was done by me to the book club because I thought it would be great to meet Lisa at an author event at Books and Books, Bal Harbour and also because it would be a great follow-up to the Hotel on Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Both books have similar themes but written in different viewpoints. One written through the eyes of Henry, a young, later adult, Chinese-American and the other told by Pearl, a Chinese, raised in Shanghai woman, who comes to live to America as a young adult. The part of selecting a book for a book club is not an easy process but I am happy to say that everyone was happy for the selection and felt that the book was perfect for a discussion. After reading several Lisa See books I can tell you that she understands women relationships very well. From the beginning we are introduced to Pearl and May, two sisters who seem to have Shanghai as their oyster and they are the queens of this glamouros city. After reading, you will be driving and asking yourself am I more of a May or a Pearl? But from one day to the next, things change completely and their lives go into a crazy whirlwind. The core of the story is the relationship of these two sisters yes, and all that entails, the complexities and joys of that relationship. This book was so carefully researched, artfully written to the most single of details, not leaving anything to chance. There are many themes besides the relationship between the sisters, for example, secondary themes such as the Chinese Zodiac and the role of women, just to name a few. I bought the book when Lisa See came to Books and Books, Coral Gables, hardcover release, where guests got to mingle with her while we ate delicious hummus, cookies and drank punch. My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner. Once I started, I couldn't stop. Ask my kids, my husband...my Facebook friends who read my post at 2 am when I finished it. Why, you may ask? Because this book has the kind of characters that haunt you, you can't stop thinking about, even when you put the book down.
Because you live and suffer with them in their struggles (many) and joys (few along the way). You also learn about the strength of the human spirit. What were the book club results? Well, everyone was unanimous in that the book was worth their time and more. Now, not everyone was in love with the main characters, some of the members thought that one of the men, Sam, was their favourite and would have wanted to know a little bit more about him. I know this book has a lot "hype" around it and that may be a turn off for some readers but don't let that deter you from reading Shanghai Girls, it will move you in a way only Lisa See can.