China Dolls

  • by Lisa See
  • Narrated by Jodi Long
  • 15 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The New York Times bestselling 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.

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What the Critics Say

"China Dolls mines a fascinating part of our cultural history through the story of a trio of women who become a complex constant in one another's lives even as the world serves up painful transformation. Lisa See gets so much just right here. You'll want to dive right in." (Paula McLain, New York Times best-selling author of The Paris Wife)
"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, New York Times best-selling author of Songs of Willow Frost)
"In the beginning of See's stellar ninth book, three young women, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, meet and form an unlikely but strong bond in San Francisco in 1938. . . . The story alternates between their viewpoints, with each woman's voice strong and dynamic, developing a multilayered richness as it progresses. The depth of See's characters and her winning prose make this book a wonderful journey through love and loss." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Narrator Spoiled It For Me

What other book might you compare China Dolls to and why?

This is not unlike some of Lisa See's other books - long Chinese girls making their way in the world, this time beginning in 1938 and moving through their lives together. Well written and enjoyable, as always.


How could the performance have been better?

I normally enjoy Jodi Long as a narrator, but this was not the book for her. I don't know her background, but she sounds like she's from the New York City area (which I am as well). Her accent, although not pronounced, is nonetheless still there. This, combined with the fact that she sounds older than her late teens or early twenties, made it really hard for me to imagine that her words were the thoughts and words of three young Chinese-American girls from Ohio and California. I know it sounds picky, but it was very distracting to me.


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- Susan J. Macaulay

Need a different reader!! Where is Janet Song??

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I couldn't listen to this book. I found the reader totally annoying and hard to listen to. I started this book three times but each time gave up. I love Lisa See books and have listened to all of Janet Song's recordings so was looking forward to this one. What a disappointment.


If you’ve listened to books by Lisa See before, how does this one compare?

The reader makes the audiobook and this reader was not the best choice


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jodi Long?

Janet Song


Could you see China Dolls being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Never could get into the book so can't say.


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- Mary

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-03-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio