Lisa See, one of my favorite historical fiction authors, recently released her ninth novel China Dolls (June 3).
You might recognize the author from her novel (later made into film) Snow flower and the Secret Fan. In her latest novel Lisa once again sheds light on a forgotten time in history. In China Dolls, Lisa writes of a trio of ambitious friends who wish to find success as performers in San Francisco’s China town’s nightclubs in the late 1930s. The Chinese and Japanese-American females battle prejudice, old traditions, gender inequality, and in the 1940s, WWII.
The novel follows each character’s story as Grace, Helen and Ruby fight for their chance to shine in the spotlight. But we all know what happens when your best friend is also your roommate — there will be drama, there will be arguments and there will be jealousy.
Many of the characters in China Dolls are fictional, but Lisa did incorporate familiar names from the Chinese-American nightclub scene during the era.
I am always in awe of the research Lisa compiles for each of her novels. I didn’t become a big fan after her big hit Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, but it was after I read Shanghai Girls and the subsequent Dreams of Joy, I became a fan of not only the author’s prose, but also her extensive knowledge of China during a time that seems so long ago.
China Dolls was released soon after Jamie Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost was released. Both talented writers focus on Chinese stardom in the golden age.