China Dolls: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
The author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls has garnered international acclaim for her great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate. Now comes Lisa See’s highly anticipated new novel, China Dolls.
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.
Praise for China Dolls
“Superb . . . This emotional, informative and brilliant page-turner resonates with resilience and humanity.”—The Washington Post
“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, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“A fascinating portrait of life as a Chinese-American woman in the 1930s and ’40s.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A sweeping, turbulent tale of passion, friendship, good fortune, bad fortune, perfidy and the hope of reconciliation.”—Los Angeles Times
“Lisa See masterfully creates unforgettable characters that linger in your memory long after you close the pages.”—Bookreporter
“Stellar . . . The depth of See’s characters and her winning prose makes this book a wonderful journey through love and loss.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“China Dolls plunges us into a fascinating history and offers an accessible meditation on themes that are still urgent in our contemporary world.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“China Dolls is [Lisa See’s] most penetrating since Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.”—The Seattle Times
in my chair. Return to New York? Finally! “We want to build the whole show around the two of you,” Tom added in a voice that grated like a cement mixer. “We’re calling it Slant-Eyed Scandals. It’s going to be the biggest, costliest, most elaborate Oriental floor show seen anywhere, and it will stand up to any all-white show on Broadway. We open in eight weeks.” Grace signaled to a waiter, whispered in his ear, and then slid her chair closer to Tom. “Who else do you have?” “We’ve got Keye Luke,
it.” Helen’s lips quivered as her reason instantly fell apart. She tried another excuse. “You can’t tell me you didn’t want to be in Aloha, Boys! I gave you what you wanted.” But we’d already covered that territory. Helen’s eyes now searched the room until they came to her son. She reached out to him, beckoning. He ran across the room and put his arms around her neck. Take pity on me. Maybe her ploy worked, because my anger was gone and I was weirdly back in my body. Of course, all this was
maybe a carnival.” “The man who interviewed me when I went there for a job said the Gayway wasn’t a place for a girl like me. If it isn’t right for a girl like me, then it can’t be right for a girl like you—” She waved that off. “It’s Helen I’m worried about,” she said. “I know this will be a problem for her.” “For her? I don’t like it!” “Grace, be a sport, will ya? I needed a job. You understand that.” She stared at me earnestly. “Will you please help me with Helen?” I put my hands on my
swear,” Joe vowed. “But it says ‘nude.’ ” “It’s not that nude,” Joe said. “Sally Rand was one of the most famous performers at the Chicago World’s Fair. Now she’s here.” “Have you been inside?” I asked. “You bet!” he answered a bit too enthusiastically. Helen and I paid twenty-five cents apiece and then waited in a line that moved very slowly. Joe was right. There were people of all ages—even little kids—in the line, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the majority were men on their own.
once the door to her apartment was open and I saw toe shoes dangling from a curtain rod.” She paused. “If you live with me, you’ll have your own room.” “I doubt Grace will be able to share the rent,” Helen said. “She doesn’t need to worry about that. I make plenty of dough. Besides,” Ruby added, pinching my cheek, “I owe you one.” She let me absorb that, while Helen fidgeted. “What about Joe?” I asked. Ruby tapped her nails on the table. “I already told you. There’s not much between us