Always a Lisa See fan, I was eager to be absorbed into a world of Chinese historical fiction with this book. China Dolls is actually set in San Francisco in 1938, where three friends, Ruby, Helen and Grace decide to put their dance talents to work in a popular Asian night-club. The girls all come from different backgrounds. Grace is from the Midwest, Helen from a traditional and well-off Chinese family in Chinatown, and Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese because the nightclubs prefer to hire Chinese dancers. They achieve some success, and then, in December 1941, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and everything changes. Someone tips off the authorities and Ruby is arrested and sent to an internment camp. Who betrayed Ruby?
I enjoyed this book, as I do all Lisa See novels, but it did not hold the same affection as her earlier books. The absence of the more traditional Chinese backdrop had something to do with my reaction, and it definitely had a “chick-lit” feel that I didn’t appreciate. Still, I won’t give up on Lisa See and I’m eager to read her latest novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2014
Amazon Book Preview of China Dolls