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“Shanghai Girls”

Shanghai Girls: A NovelWe have heard the story before, or something very close to it: Two sisters run away from the perils of an arranged marriage, a decision that leaves their family bankrupt. They journey to a land that promises wealth, happiness, and love. What they experience instead is poverty and imprisonment. Though bestselling author Lisa See (“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”) may not be covering any new ground in “Shanghai Girls,” she successfully transforms the circumstances surrounding her unfortunate characters into an adventure-filled tale. The world is well drawn (as the Washington Post says, “It’s more history lesson than fairy tale”), and although critics agree that it is not See’s strongest novel, it will satisfy her fans. Pat Harrison of the Oregonian calls it “an engaging enough read and shot through with many poignant images of the sacrifices necessary to keep family together in an unfamiliar culture.”

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