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China Dolls

By: Lisa See
Narrated by: Jodi Long
Length: 15 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It’s 1938 in San Francisco: a world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities.

Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.

The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

©2014 Lisa See (P)2014 Bolinda Publication Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"In the beginning of See’s stellar ninth book, three young women, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, meet and form an unlikely but strong bond in San Francisco in 1938. The story alternates between their viewpoints, with each woman’s voice strong and dynamic, developing a multilayered richness as it progresses. The depth of See’s characters and her winning prose make this book a wonderful journey through love and loss." ( Publishers Weekly)
"This is one of those stories I’ve always wanted to tell, but Lisa See beat me to it, and she did it better than I ever could. Bravo! Here’s a roaring standing ovation for this heartwarming journey into the glittering golden age of Chinese nightclubs." (Jamie Ford, New York Times best-selling author of Songs of Willow Frost)
" China Dolls mines a fascinating part of our cultural history through the story of a trio of women who become a complex constant in one another’s lives even as the world serves up painful transformation. Lisa See gets so much just right here. You’ll want to dive right in." (Paula McLain, New York Times best-selling author of The Paris Wife)

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  • Holly
  • 28-03-2019

Got me back into fiction

Lisa See's China Dolls is an accessible and arresting story of three young women in San Francisco before the outbreak of WW2. As someone who would usually find less likable protagonists wearing, the fraught relationships in the book did not put me off, and instead I was drawn into their world.

I was first recommended this book when I finished university and had read non-fiction solidly for three years. It turned out to be the perfect story to race through and remind me what's great about fiction.