Okay. The book is Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Published in 2009, it is a New York Times bestseller and a luscious little piece of historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it, right up until the very last word. More on that later.
|Shanghai Girls by Lisa See|
I like historical fiction. I particularly like historical fiction based around the two World Wars; the best samplings tend to be textural, emotional, and revealing of so many moral and social issues that are relevant to us now, all over again. For example?
- Emigration and assimilation into new places
- Immigration and the attendant fears and prejudices
- Unemployment and family communities
- Liberty versus dependence on the government
- Cultural evolution
- Racial tension
- Legacy versus education and progress
- Work Ethics
- The limits to which you would work, lie, or sacrifice to help your children
- "The American Dream..." and all of its flux elements
"I want to say my feeling of disgrace is hard to find,
but I'm ashamed to admit it's hidden
just beneath the surface of my skin."
This silly detail bears mentioning: I read the final third of this book over the past couple of nights, while wearing a really long, smooth cotton , beautiful vintage kimono. It's navy blue with white and poppy-red-orange flowers on it.I bought it at a books-and-junk store on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and it is my newest favorite possession. YES I KNOW that kimonos are Japanese and not Chinese. But Japanese culture did play into the story. And anyway I felt feminine and elegant wearing it while reading this feminine and elegant story.
Okay. I mentioned that I loved the book right up until the last word. As all believable family sagas should, the story has numerous crescendos and lulls. I grew accustomed to the boiling point and then the cool down. I read and luxuriated as the characters matured from girls into women, from fearful children into knowing and capable creatures. And I accidentally prescribed in my head where the story should lead. MISTAKE.
Anyway, on the night that I finished it, a paragraph dropped me off at one of the boiling points. No biggie. I was excited. Then I turned the page for what I thought would be a new chapter... It was the end! The last twenty or thirty pages of the paperback were acknowledgements and author's notes! AHHH I craved so much more. I needed far more resolution that this provided, and as far as I can tell there is no sequel. So I guess my only complaint about Shanghai Girls is that it left me wanting more of the same. It was just so delicious.
Do find this book! It's an informative yet transporting summer read. And come back tomorrow for the third and final installment of Unsolicited Advice, Marital Edition.
"I fold the letter and put it back in its envelope.
There's nothing we can do about any of this from so far away,
but I begin a chant- something more than a prayer,
something more like a desperate plea:
Bring her home, bring her home, bring her home."
~Lisa See in Shanghai Girls
I'm linking up with Mama Kat today.
Go check out all the other great submissions!
And please say some prayers for my book-loving friend Seri
and her sweet family this week, ok? Many thanks.