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Extended Audio Sample Shanghai Girls: A Novel Audiobook, by Lisa See Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (59,667 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lisa See Narrator: Janet Song Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2009 ISBN: 9780739359341
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In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules. 

At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are–Shanghai girls.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “As in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, she has in her latest novel created ordinary women who, through willfulness and resiliency, accomplish extraordinary things…See, whose writing is as graceful as these ‘beautiful girls,’ pulls off another exceptional novel.”

    Miami Herald

  • Shanghai Girls is one of those books I could not wait to continue reading, because her characters’ stories are so compellingly told.”

    St. Louis Dispatch

  • “The glamour of prewar Shanghai is recalled in Lisa See’s deftly plotted Shanghai Girls.”

    Vogue

  • “A rich work…As compulsively readable as it is an enlightening journey.”

    Denver Post

  • “A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood.”

    Booklist

  • “See is a gifted writer, and in Shanghai Girls she again explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience.”

    USA Today

  • See is a gifted writer, and in Shanghai Girls she again explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience. USA Today
  • A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood. Booklist
  • A rich work…as compulsively readable as it is an enlightening journey. Denver Post
  • “The glamour of prewar Shanghai is recalled in Lisa See’s deftly plotted Shanghai Girls. Vogue
  • Splendid More
  • An engrossing tale of two sisters. Time.com
  • Shanghai Girls is one of those books I could not wait to continue reading, because her characters' stories are so compellingly told. St. Louis Dispatch
  • As in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, she has in her latest novel created ordinary women who, through willfulness and resiliency, accomplish extraordinary things…See, whose writing is as graceful as these '’beautiful girls,'’ pulls off another exceptional novel. Miami Herald
  • Selected for the June 2009 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mindi Bruns irvin | 2/17/2014

    " I really liked this book. It was a beautifully written combination of history, culture, love, family, loyalty, and survival. Cannot wait to read more of Lisa See's novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Delia R | 2/4/2014

    " Very interesting story.... I feel like I learned a lot about China, about Chinese women and culture, and about their lives in America in the 50's. I didn't love the end, but I did find the way she totally turned around the perspective at the end and made you question everything so unique and interesting. It really brings to question the idea of reliable narration. Some parts are very sad, some are very moving, but overall a great book on tape. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Takai | 2/1/2014

    " About 2 sisters from China who relocate to US. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynda | 1/23/2014

    " An excellent novel centering around the lives (and tragedies) of two Chinese sisters who emigrate to Los Angeles but not before enduring trauma in war torn Shanghai. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gretchen | 1/19/2014

    " Sometimes a little slow, but I learned so much! This book takes place before/during/after WWII, and chronicles the lives of two sisters originally from Shanghai; they endure some really brutal stuff as they leave China for the "safety" of America, only to encounter oppression of a different kind. Not such a proud time in American history... I learned a lot about Chinese culture and experiences - very eye-opening! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheila | 1/10/2014

    " Pretty good. First pages were slow. Horrible ending, understand there is a follow up. Dying to read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy French | 1/9/2014

    " Love this author. She gives you a lot of historical information in an easy to read format. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frances | 12/31/2013

    " the book dragged me willingly into a time and place that captivated me. Lisa See told a story and captured the nuances of daily living in the most unexpected ways. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcy Reiz | 12/15/2013

    " A horrifying and harrowing story so beautifully told. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Olga | 12/9/2013

    " I enjoyed this books up until the end. I felt like the end was too rushed to wrap up all of the loose ends. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie Israel-williams | 12/5/2013

    " Great book but leaves you hanging..... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Candice Engel | 12/2/2013

    " From riches to rags, this book was sometimes difficult to read. However, it is a well told story and I found myself rooting for the characters to realize their dreams. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie Kagen | 10/19/2013

    " One of my all time favorites! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 8/23/2013

    " Wonderful book, Also then read Dreams of Joy. Continuation of the life of these girls. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 D Ann | 12/23/2012

    " I really liked it and read the sequel "Dreams of Joy" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katakgirl | 11/26/2012

    " It's another story of woman in China fleeing from war and communism. It's a good read with some good historical background. The characters Pearl and May is quite easy to relate except that they used too much of beautiful girls statement. I mean definition of beauty is quite subjective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie Zemeckis | 10/23/2011

    " I'm obsessed with this era and culture - I want to be the more glam if the sisters - a powerful story of multi generational love and heartache "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trish Stanczyk | 9/1/2011

    " Enjoyable read that eventually got me thinking even deeper about perception, family, commitment, etc. I really enjoyed this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betty Dean | 7/11/2011

    " Loved this book almost as much as Snowflower and the Secret Fan! Dream Girls is next.., "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mari Olsen | 7/10/2011

    " Wow: compelling characters and a well-told sister story, with the best of historical fiction. Somehow we missed Chinese and Japanese history in our schools, but I trust Lisa See's thorough research to help fill me in. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy | 7/1/2011

    " This was a very brutal tale and interesting story. There is a second book, but I will not read it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lyla | 6/21/2011

    " Read this for Book Club - what a stinker. Distinctly remember saying "Thank god that is over" when I finished it. Not impressed with this writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marianne | 5/24/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book. I felt like I was living in their "time" as it took place preWWII and beyond. Her attention to detail in regards to fashion, food, loyalty and respect to family was extremely helpful to me in learning about this particular culture. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 5/24/2011

    " A very good read. It kept me interested throughout the book always reading on to see what happens next. It also was a good history lesson for me. I was a little fuzzy about some of the happenings before WWII. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juleana | 5/23/2011

    " Suspenseful, thrilling, unbelievable in some ways. Over all wonderful book. :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 5/23/2011

    " I don't know if it's historically accurate but I learned a great deal about the struggles of Asian immigrants over a lifespan of one family.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 5/23/2011

    " A wonderful heartwarming story of two sisters and their trial and tribulations during WWII. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Smudge | 5/22/2011

    " This was a good read for a road trip... Moved fairly quickly but with interesting historical elements. The ending made me want to know more. Will there be a sequel? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikki | 5/21/2011

    " Such an amazing book! I read this book some time ago, but the characters have really stuck with me and I think of them often, like old friends. I love books that can do that! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 5/18/2011

    " Not her best but still enjoyable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Krista | 5/17/2011

    " Better than Snow Flower and Secret Fan "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kriste | 5/17/2011

    " Interesting story about Chinese immigrants during World War II. "

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About the Author
Author Lisa See

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret FanFlower NetThe Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.

About the Narrator

Janet Song is the recipient of multiple Earphones Awards and was named one of AudioFile magazine’s Best Voices of 2008. Recent audiobooks include Euna Lee’s The World is Bigger Now and Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls. She lives and works in Southern California as an actor on stage and screen.