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It's 1938 in San Francisco, and Helen, Grace and ruby, three women from very different backgrounds meet while they are performing in the glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. The girls become very good friends. When their dark secrets are revealed, their friendship stumble, but it finds it footing again and they keep dancing. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, everything changes.
The story alternates between their voice developing a multi-layered richness as it progresses. The characters are richly portrayed, although I had trouble differentiating who was speaking at certain times. It is a hard book to put down.
China Dolls mines a fascinating part of our cultural history. Lisa See's prose is shining as she takes us through an unforgettable journey of 50 years. I was impressed by the vast amount of research that went into the book.
I was excited to have an opportunity to receive and review this latest novel from Lisa See, who has been one of my favorite authors since I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, then later Shanghai Girls. See has a gift for placing her characters in intriguing historical settings and also for weaving an intricate tale of three women of diverse backgrounds whose relationships with each other are so complicated and emotionally evocative that as I continued reading, I had numerous changes of heart about whether I liked or disliked these women in turn. I did find much to admire in the way each overcame challenges.
Whether you are already a fan of Lisa See or have never read her work, I heartily recommend China Dolls.