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Bethanne
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

Welcome, Lisa -- we're so glad you're here. I wasn't moderating the last time around, but I apologize for not showing up earlier this week. I loved Shanghai Girls (I reviewed it here), and will jump in with questions today!

 

Best,

Bethanne 

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Bethanne
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12 - SPOILER FOR SHANGHAI GIRLS


Fozzie wrote:

SPOILER FOR SHANGHAI GIRLS 

 

Hi Linda and Vivian!

 

Lisa, I finished Shanghai Girls yesterday and found it has given me a lot to think about.  One thing I am pondering is whether or not the book is a tragedy.  I found this definition of tragedy on answers.com:

 

A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.

 

Pearl, the main character, certainly suffers extreme sorrow, but is able to cope with unfavorable circumstances.  She would not be alive if she couldn't. 

 

I do find myself wondering if Pearl has a tragic flaw, that of being a victim, as May claims.  I thought it was a great technique that you used during the last 15 pages of the book, when you had May recount some of the events of the sisters' lives from May's point of view.  I hope May's comments made Pearl think differently about their lives because her comments caused me to rethink many of my beliefs that I had formed about their lives which had been heavily influenced by Pearl as the narrator, of course.

 

I think I have concluded that Pearl is a tragic heroine with a tragic flaw of being a victim.  However, I don't think she is going to let that flaw have as much influence for the rest of her life as it has had previously.  At the end, we see Pearl taking charge of her life, her destiny. 

 

I immediately wondered, upon finishing the book, if there would be a sequel.  After thinking about it, I have decided that there is no need for a sequel because I feel confident in concluding that Pearl will find Joy and bring her home.

 

I didn't included any questions here, but would welcome comments from everyone.


Fozzie, thank you so much for giving the SPOILER ALERT heading!
Bethanne 

 

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Bethanne
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12


Lisa_See wrote:

Linda,

 

Thanks for joining in. I'm thrilled and honored that Shanghai Girls is the first book of mine that you've read.  You've asked lots of big questions, so I'll try to touch on all of them.  Each one ould probably become a new thread, so I'll be brief to start.

 

I'm part Chinese. My great-great-grandfather came to this country to work on the building of the transcontinetal railroad. My great-grandfather came and stayed. He had four wives and two families.  I'm descended from the first family.  That wife was a Caucasian woman.  It was against the law in California for Chinese and Caucasians to marry until 1948. (In some states until 1965.)  They went to a lawyer who drew up a contract between two people as though they were forming a partnership.  Today I have about 400 people in my family here in Los Angeles.  There are a dozen who look like me, the majority are still full Chinese, ans then there's a spectrum in between.  What I'm saying is that I grew up in a very traditional Chinese American family.

 

The thrillers I've written are Flower Net, The Interior, and Dragon Bones.  They are great fun, if I do say so myself.

 

I'm so glad you brought up sisters. Instead of answering your questions about that, I'd like to ask the group to share their thoughts about sisters.  What makes the sister relationship special? What's the difference between actual sisters and friends who are just like sisters?  Do you have friends who are like sisters of the heart?  Is there anything your actual sister could do that would cause an irrevocable break?


Lisa, your questions about sisters are so wonderful -- and I know we've had some answers to them, but I thought I'd jump in, too. I have a couple of friends who are as close to me as any sibling could be, but I do think that real sisters (I have one) share a history that no one else possibly knows about. Even if you've grown up with a close friend, unless that person lived in the same house with you, their experiences will not be as close as a sister's will be.
That's one of the things I appreciated about your "girls" -- all the way through the novel, their early shared history influenced their relationship.
Bethanne 

 

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Bethanne
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12


DiamondLightfoot13 wrote:

I absolutely LOVED Shanghai Girls and passed my copy along to my sister in law. I told her it was a must read. I've had fun recommending it to just about anyone who will listen.

 

The relationship between Pearl and May rings true in so many ways. I have several sisters and a different relationship with each of them. They each see me differently, too. Your characterizations are terrific.

 

I'll save questions for a bit until I've read through more of the posts, but I wanted to tell you it's an amazing book.

 


Hi, Diamond, and welcome -- great to see you here. I just wanted to echo your statement that this is an amazing book. Have you taken a look at Lisa's slideshow for it?  

 

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Linda10
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

Bethanne and Lisa,

 

Thank you so much for posting the slide show!  It's always fun to see more about a book one has read.  It was nice to see more "Beautiful Girls" posters than just the one on the cover of the book!

 

I was talking with my mother yesterday and told her how I had finished reading "Shanghai Girls" so she could now read it herself.  My mother has ALWAYS loved the Chinese culture, as far back as I can remember.  She then started telling me about a Chinese supervisor she had at one of her jobs.  She said she was just the sweetest lady you could ever want to know.  Well, while my mom was at this job, Grace (the Chinese supervisor) got married.  Grace told my mother one day how nervous she was because it was a Chinese custom that the bride-to-be is to make tea for her new in-laws.  My mother always remembered that story.  When I told her about the weddings (even though arranged) in "Shanghai Girls," she now wants to read the book even more!

 

The "extras" that go along with a good book, whether a real-life story or a slide show, are so fun!  Don't you think?

 

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Bethanne
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12


Linda10 wrote:

Bethanne and Lisa,

 

Thank you so much for posting the slide show!  It's always fun to see more about a book one has read.  It was nice to see more "Beautiful Girls" posters than just the one on the cover of the book!

 

I was talking with my mother yesterday and told her how I had finished reading "Shanghai Girls" so she could now read it herself.  My mother has ALWAYS loved the Chinese culture, as far back as I can remember.  She then started telling me about a Chinese supervisor she had at one of her jobs.  She said she was just the sweetest lady you could ever want to know.  Well, while my mom was at this job, Grace (the Chinese supervisor) got married.  Grace told my mother one day how nervous she was because it was a Chinese custom that the bride-to-be is to make tea for her new in-laws.  My mother always remembered that story.  When I told her about the weddings (even though arranged) in "Shanghai Girls," she now wants to read the book even more!

 

The "extras" that go along with a good book, whether a real-life story or a slide show, are so fun!  Don't you think?

 


Linda,
You're so welcome -- I wish every author could/would make a slideshow like that, especially for historical fiction. It really helped me to understand the book, although I must say kudos to Lisa, because after reading her descriptions of how the "beautiful girls" posed etc., the actual photographs were just as she'd painted them in her words.
Bethanne 

 

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vivico1
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

That is an awesome slideshow! I just sent it to some friends.

 

Lisa,

I wanted to ask you something about the early part of the book that really got to me. (SPOILER TO FIRST PART OF SHANGHAI GIRLS). When the girls are riding in the Rickshaw and then get out, they "step around a dead baby left in the street" and keep going. Can you speak to this some? Were they so above these tragedies at that time in their lives that they could just walk around a dead baby like it was nothing? Was this just a really common sight there, or at least in sections of Shanghai? Where did the babies come from?

 

I remember in The Joy Luck Club, one of the women, when remembering her story, had left her babies behind on the road because she thought she was going to die and no one would take her babies if she was dead by them, it would be a bad omen. So to her tortured heart, she left the babies under a tree with a few things with them, hoping someone would pick them up and care for them. I could not imagine that. I think I would die then of a broken heart but at the same time, what an act of love, if you think about it with her beliefs that to stay with them would doom them.

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12 - SPOILER FOR SHANGHAI GIRLS


Fozzie wrote:

Lisa_See wrote:

One thing that's interesting about using a first person narrative is that you only have that one person -- in this case, Pearl -- to tell us what she's seeing, feeling, and experiencing.  She's what's called an unreliable narrator.  I hope that readers have already come to some of the conclusions that May has before she speaks them at the end.


I didn't want to use the term unreliable narrator to refer to Pearl, even after realizing just how unreliable she may have been.  I though of the story as Pearl's story, and, as such, was reading it with the belief that it was her truth.  However, as I was reminded in the end, Pearl's truth is not necessarily the truth.

 

One thing that did bother me about Pearl's version of the story of she and May's lives bothered me from Joy's birth onward.  I can't recall even once Pearl considering how hard it must have been for May to act like Joy was not her daughter.  May didn't just have to give up her daughter, but she had to remain present in her life, which, to me, would only add salt to the wound. 

 

I think  one of the reasons May threw herself into her work, and found work that got her out of the house, was to escape Pearl and Joy and their mother/daughter interactions.  By being away at work, May was escaping her own pain, but Pearl thought that May was creating pain for Pearl.


Yes, Laura. Thanks. Now when I think back, it is different when you realize Pearl is telling this story and Lisa contrived to create her as a realistic human being. And what human being would usually write her own faults because maybe she doesn't see them herself. I feel that afterwards May said that to her, she iginited the thoughts that maybe she was playing the victim. 

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kiakar
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12


Fozzie wrote:

vivico1 wrote:

But, I kid you not, in some families, like mine, people don't even seem to have the memories of the same events, that they even happened!


My family members don't always completely agree on a memory, and sometimes one person doesn't remember it at all.  Luckily, for us, most of such instances are unimportant and we laugh, most times come to a concensus about what happened, but sometimes just agree to disagree. 


You are right again Laura. I think all siblings do that!  They are making their own individual memories. My daughter, the oldest years ago told me she remembered as a baby going to the zoo but I knew she hadn't went, what it was she had seen a picture of a baby sitting across from the Washington Zoo, thinking it was her. It was in one of my picture albums and it did resemble her but it was my youngest sister, there is ten years between them. And she was very creative with her stories about what she remembered as  a baby but usually the visions or such came from pictures.

 

I have never heard a family memory told by my daughters that wasn't quite like I remembered it and they tell me the same with their memories. 

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kiakar
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12


vivico1 wrote:

OK, my brain may be tired tonight, long hot day, so this post may have been in reference to this already but let me ask if not. Lisa, is this experience with your kids where you got the idea for Pearl and May's perceptions of where they sat and why?

 


Lisa_See wrote:

But wouldn't you say that all the things you just listed are labels? They just aren't hurtful ones. I'd like to be the "genial" sister. I love the way your aunts were labeled too. They each had a special talent and a marital status. That's very sweet. You must have a very kind-hearted family.

 

What I left out earlier is that labels aren't necessarily given by parents but by ourselves. Those perceptions that we have as kids can be very wrong. In my family, my son Chris always sits next to me in restaurants. Alexander always sits next to his dad. There's a perception by them that this is because my husband and I always want to sit next to our most favorite child. In fact, Chris and I sit next to each other because he's the youngest. When he was a baby, he sat in a high chair. As the mom, I sat next to him to feed him and keep him out of trouble. That has nothing to do with favorites. It grew out of something practical but then settled into a routine that we follow, more or less, to this day. And Chris is now 24!


 

 


Wow Vivico:

How perceptive are you, girl? On the ball and all that!  I didn't catch that one either!  Dullsville here I am!   Nice to be talking with all of  you again.

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kiakar
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12


Lisa_See wrote:

But wouldn't you say that all the things you just listed are labels? They just aren't hurtful ones.  I'd like to be the "genial" sister.  I love the way your aunts were labeled too.  They each had a special talent and a marital status. That's very sweet.  You must have a very kind-hearted family.

 

What I left out earlier is that labels aren't necessarily given by parents but by ourselves.  Those perceptions that we have as kids can be very wrong.  In my family, my son Chris always sits next to me in restaurants. Alexander always sits next to his dad.  There's a perception by them that this is because my husband and I always want to sit next to our most favorite child.  In fact, Chris and I sit next to each other because he's the youngest.  When he was a baby, he sat in a high chair.  As the mom, I sat next to him to feed him and keep him out of trouble.  That has nothing to do with favorites. It grew out of something practical but then settled into a routine that we follow, more or less, to this day.  And Chris is now 24!


Hey Lisa;  

You really do have amazing sons that still sit like they did when they were younger. That is wonderful that they are that close. Alot of children would think that uncool to continue a childhood custom but that just shows the love and closeness

in your family. 

 

I guess I did write about labels before, but yes, I agree with you, Lisa. They are kinder labels in my way of thinking but still labels. But maybe to others they would be insulting. I remember someone telling one of my unmarried aunts what we said when describing them and she got alittle hot under the collar, but of course she got over it and just laughed because it was her choice never to marry, in other words, she had many choices to marry in her 84 years of life. 

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vivico1
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

Lisa,

Erick Setiawan is the First Look club, sharing his first novel, Of Bees and Mists right now and its a pretty good book. I asked him if he had read your books and he said yes and is looking forward to your reading in San Francisco. He also put a link to this site of Angel Island for all to see on his answer thread. For those here, this may be a spoiler depending on where you are in the book so if you have not read about Angel Island yet, you may not want to open this! Angel Island

It give some more history of the Island too and some links to more pictures including some aerial shots of it, what was where.

 

I still can not get over that not in all my years of education, all the different schools and states, did I ever hear ONCE about this. History is held by those with selective memory!

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Lisa_See
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

Welcome, Pamela!

 

Yes, you're reading the mysteries in order: Flower Net, The Interior, and finally Dragon Bones.

 

It sounds like you've lived a very interesting life so far.  You've visited 25 countries?!  Wow!!!

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Lisa_See
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12 - SPOILER FOR SHANGHAI GIRLS

Laura,

 

I like what you wrote about Pearl not having much sympathy or understanding for May's suffering as a mother. One of the criticisms I had from some early readers was that your didn't see enough about how May felt about being present in Joy's life.  But to me it was very clear: Pearl ignored how May felt. She chose not to see it.  And May, for her part, did what she could by throwing herself into work and exploration.

 

I have a question on a whole other point.  How do I get a piece of a post into my reply? 

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Lisa_See
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

ABSOLUTELY!!!  I use a lot of things from my life experience in the books. 

 

 

OK, my brain may be tired tonight, long hot day, so this post may have been in reference to this already but let me ask if not. Lisa, is this experience with your kids where you got the idea for Pearl and May's perceptions of where they sat and why?

 


Lisa_See wrote:

But wouldn't you say that all the things you just listed are labels? They just aren't hurtful ones. I'd like to be the "genial" sister. I love the way your aunts were labeled too. They each had a special talent and a marital status. That's very sweet. You must have a very kind-hearted family.

 

What I left out earlier is that labels aren't necessarily given by parents but by ourselves. Those perceptions that we have as kids can be very wrong. In my family, my son Chris always sits next to me in restaurants. Alexander always sits next to his dad. There's a perception by them that this is because my husband and I always want to sit next to our most favorite child. In fact, Chris and I sit next to each other because he's the youngest. When he was a baby, he sat in a high chair. As the mom, I sat next to him to feed him and keep him out of trouble. That has nothing to do with favorites. It grew out of something practical but then settled into a routine that we follow, more or less, to this day. And Chris is now 24!


 

 

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pen21
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12 - SPOILER FOR SHANGHAI GIRLS

I have a question on a whole other point.  How do I get a piece of a post into my reply?

 

You can select reply. Then scroll down where it shows which message you are replying to.

I put my cursor where I want to start copying. Then hold down the right mouse button and drag across (or hightlight) to the end of the part to copy.Then select the Ctrl and Insert buttons at the same time.

Move your cursor up to the message area where you want to put the copy.

Then select Shift and Insert buttons at the same time.

 

 

Another way is to select the Quote Post, which will copy all of the original post.

Then I just highlight and delete what I don't want to include.

 

Hope this helps.

pen21

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vivico1
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12 - SPOILER FOR SHANGHAI GIRLS

highlight what you want from the post, copy it, then open a new one to write into and paste it into yours wherever you want it. OR you can go to that post, reply on it with whatever you wanted to say, click "qoute post" and then take out the parts of it you don't want by highlighting and cutting it out. I find copying and pasting easier tho myself if I just want a part of it.

 


Lisa_See wrote:

Laura,

 

I like what you wrote about Pearl not having much sympathy or understanding for May's suffering as a mother. One of the criticisms I had from some early readers was that your didn't see enough about how May felt about being present in Joy's life. But to me it was very clear: Pearl ignored how May felt. She chose not to see it. And May, for her part, did what she could by throwing herself into work and exploration.

 

I have a question on a whole other point. How do I get a piece of a post into my reply?


 

 

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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seagate
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

Nice to see you here.. We share the page in the Shanghai Girls
acknowledgements.  That was such a wonderful experience , to
be able to share our ideas with Lisa for her book "in the making".
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa in Philadelphia
on her Book Tour. She is as exceptional a speaker as she is a writer
Lisa has a special gift and we are so fortunate she shares it with us.
Isn't her new book great !!!!  Good luck on the rest of your tour, 
Lisa.  

saegate (Mary)
.   
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vivico1
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12

Lisa,

Cindy from the Peony club asked me to tell you she is going to try to get in here tomorrow (Thursday) and say hi. She is camping right now and just finished Shanghai Girls and loved it. She is going to try hard to get to see you when you get to Chicago, well Lake Forest I think, the luncheon. We were saying how fun it would be to go to that together, but alas, I can't get to Chicago. If your Kansas City one was later in the year, I might try to get up there from here. That is the closest about any author gets to Oklahoma lol. Maybe I will get a chance on your next tour. Anyway, she would kill me if I didn't pass on her message lol.

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Bethanne
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Re: Lisa See, June 8-12 - SPOILER FOR SHANGHAI GIRLS


Lisa_See wrote:

Laura,

 

I like what you wrote about Pearl not having much sympathy or understanding for May's suffering as a mother. One of the criticisms I had from some early readers was that your didn't see enough about how May felt about being present in Joy's life.  But to me it was very clear: Pearl ignored how May felt. She chose not to see it.  And May, for her part, did what she could by throwing herself into work and exploration.

 

I have a question on a whole other point.  How do I get a piece of a post into my reply? 


Lisa, if you want to get just a piece of your post into your reply, I recommend highlighting, cutting, and pasting -- because that's all I know (I have a "Quote Post" button, but not sure if you have that). I'll ask "behind the scenes" if there's a quicker way and will let you know asap.
Bethanne 

 

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