Discussion:
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See - not a mystery but lots of suspense
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Carol Dickinson
2017-05-26 13:04:31 UTC
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I just finished Lisa See's Dreams of Joy, which is a sequel to her Shanghai Girls. I believe I had read that the first one was biographical about her family but it was fiction after all. Shanghai Girls is the story of 2 sisters, May and Pearl who were models for a famous artist. Both girls were in love with he, but he was in love with May. She became pregnant about the time their father gambled away his business and they were married off in the traditional manner to men they did not love. They illegal emigrated to the USA in the 30's and lived more than a year in an internment camp. May was pregnant with the artists child. And was forced to give the girl named Joy to her sister and her husband to raise.

Dreams of Joy takes place 20 years later. Joy is grown and a university student in Chicago, and completely idealistic about the Peoples Republic of China. A government investigation into the family (its 1957)leads to great tragedy and a family quarrel causing Joy to learn her supposed parents are her aunt Pearl and uncle, and her mother is really her aunt May and her father the unknown artist. So she runs away to China making several blunders on her entry losing her papers and passport in the process.

Her mother Pearl follows her to China 2 days later to bring her back. Unfortunately when the artist is found he's in political trouble and is sent to a country village. Joy goes with him and falls in love. Pearl returns to Shanghai and lives in her previous home with several other people in the new system, taking up a position as a garbage collector while she spends months trying to find Joy. Things don't go well, and Joy refuses to reconnect with Peal when found. Joy returns to the country village and despite warnings that she doesn't know what she is doing, she marries into a peasant family and Pearl is forced to return to Shanghai without her.

The rest of the story is the 3 years they live in China during the great famine cause by the Great Leap Forward policies. I have liked all See's books, but this one set in relatively modern times was a powerful reading experience. It gives a really close look at the transition period when the Chinese people were learning to put aside traditions and become communists. The deprivation and famine in the countryside, and comparison of the changes to the cities like Shanghai painted a picture just knowing facts about that period could not really make one understand. It truly makes you understand how it came to be that millions died due to mismanagement by the government. Along side that is the struggle by Pearl to make sense of what has happened in her girlhood home and friends and to reconnect with and rescue Joy and her child.

Although it was placed in a time much later that the stories by Pearl Buck this one much more than the others is reminiscent of her writing. My goodness I had not been expecting so much power when I started reading this one.

I know its not a mystery, but this was a fantastic read. I hope some of you might venture to read it. And it does have a happy ending but nail biting suspense right up until the end and Pearl, Joy as their loved ones work to survive starvation and escape back to the USA.
Nancy Spera
2017-05-26 14:23:05 UTC
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Post by Carol Dickinson
I just finished Lisa See's Dreams of Joy, which is a sequel to her Shanghai Girls. I believe I had read that the first one was biographical about her family but it was fiction after all. Shanghai Girls is the story of 2 sisters, May and Pearl who were models for a famous artist. Both girls were in love with he, but he was in love with May. She became pregnant about the time their father gambled away his business and they were married off in the traditional manner to men they did not love. They illegal emigrated to the USA in the 30's and lived more than a year in an internment camp. May was pregnant with the artists child. And was forced to give the girl named Joy to her sister and her husband to raise.
Dreams of Joy takes place 20 years later. Joy is grown and a university student in Chicago, and completely idealistic about the Peoples Republic of China. A government investigation into the family (its 1957)leads to great tragedy and a family quarrel causing Joy to learn her supposed parents are her aunt Pearl and uncle, and her mother is really her aunt May and her father the unknown artist. So she runs away to China making several blunders on her entry losing her papers and passport in the process.
Her mother Pearl follows her to China 2 days later to bring her back. Unfortunately when the artist is found he's in political trouble and is sent to a country village. Joy goes with him and falls in love. Pearl returns to Shanghai and lives in her previous home with several other people in the new system, taking up a position as a garbage collector while she spends months trying to find Joy. Things don't go well, and Joy refuses to reconnect with Peal when found. Joy returns to the country village and despite warnings that she doesn't know what she is doing, she marries into a peasant family and Pearl is forced to return to Shanghai without her.
The rest of the story is the 3 years they live in China during the great famine cause by the Great Leap Forward policies. I have liked all See's books, but this one set in relatively modern times was a powerful reading experience. It gives a really close look at the transition period when the Chinese people were learning to put aside traditions and become communists. The deprivation and famine in the countryside, and comparison of the changes to the cities like Shanghai painted a picture just knowing facts about that period could not really make one understand. It truly makes you understand how it came to be that millions died due to mismanagement by the government. Along side that is the struggle by Pearl to make sense of what has happened in her girlhood home and friends and to reconnect with and rescue Joy and her child.
Although it was placed in a time much later that the stories by Pearl Buck this one much more than the others is reminiscent of her writing. My goodness I had not been expecting so much power when I started reading this one.
I know its not a mystery, but this was a fantastic read. I hope some of you might venture to read it. And it does have a happy ending but nail biting suspense right up until the end and Pearl, Joy as their loved ones work to survive starvation and escape back to the USA.
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I have enjoyed all Lisa See's books and am always looking for when
a new one comes out. Her latest, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
doesn't look to be suspense or mystery but I so enjoy her writing I
am looking forward to getting it. I also enjoyed her On Gold
Mountain which is the chronicle of her family.

Nancy
Nyssa
2017-05-26 16:13:22 UTC
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Post by Carol Dickinson
I just finished Lisa See's Dreams of Joy, which is a
sequel to her Shanghai Girls. I believe I had read that
the first one was biographical about her family but it was
fiction after all. Shanghai Girls is the story of 2
sisters, May and Pearl who were models for a famous
artist. Both girls were in love with he, but he was in
love with May. She became pregnant about the time their
father gambled away his business and they were married off
in the traditional manner to men they did not love. They
illegal emigrated to the USA in the 30's and lived more
than a year in an internment camp. May was pregnant with
the artists child. And was forced to give the girl named
Joy to her sister and her husband to raise.
Dreams of Joy takes place 20 years later. Joy is grown and
a university student in Chicago, and completely idealistic
about the Peoples Republic of China. A government
investigation into the family (its 1957)leads to great
tragedy and a family quarrel causing Joy to learn her
supposed parents are her aunt Pearl and uncle, and her
mother is really her aunt May and her father the unknown
artist. So she runs away to China making several blunders
on her entry losing her papers and passport in the
process.
Her mother Pearl follows her to China 2 days later to
bring her back. Unfortunately when the artist is found
he's in political trouble and is sent to a country
village. Joy goes with him and falls in love. Pearl
returns to Shanghai and lives in her previous home with
several other people in the new system, taking up a
position as a garbage collector while she spends months
trying to find Joy. Things don't go well, and Joy refuses
to reconnect with Peal when found. Joy returns to the
country village and despite warnings that she doesn't know
what she is doing, she marries into a peasant family and
Pearl is forced to return to Shanghai without her.
The rest of the story is the 3 years they live in China
during the great famine cause by the Great Leap Forward
policies. I have liked all See's books, but this one set
in relatively modern times was a powerful reading
experience. It gives a really close look at the transition
period when the Chinese people were learning to put aside
traditions and become communists. The deprivation and
famine in the countryside, and comparison of the changes
to the cities like Shanghai painted a picture just knowing
facts about that period could not really make one
understand. It truly makes you understand how it came to
be that millions died due to mismanagement by the
government. Along side that is the struggle by Pearl to
make sense of what has happened in her girlhood home and
friends and to reconnect with and rescue Joy and her
child.
Although it was placed in a time much later that the
stories by Pearl Buck this one much more than the others
is reminiscent of her writing. My goodness I had not been
expecting so much power when I started reading this one.
I know its not a mystery, but this was a fantastic read. I
hope some of you might venture to read it. And it does
have a happy ending but nail biting suspense right up
until the end and Pearl, Joy as their loved ones work to
survive starvation and escape back to the USA.
I studied Chinese history back in my undergrad days when
Mao was still alive and kicking. This book sounds like
something I might like to read when I burn out on cozies
and thrillers.

It's good to change up once in awhile and read something
more serious or even a biography or non-fiction just for
variety and a better scope of understanding the world.

Thanks for the review, Carol!

Nyssa, who needs to restack her TBR pile before it falls
over and harms someone
Carol Dickinson
2017-05-29 08:21:51 UTC
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Post by Nyssa
I studied Chinese history back in my undergrad days when
Mao was still alive and kicking. This book sounds like
something I might like to read when I burn out on cozies
and thrillers.
It's good to change up once in awhile and read something
more serious or even a biography or non-fiction just for
variety and a better scope of understanding the world.
I think you would enjoy this book then. But all of her books
would likely please you. I especially enjoyed Snow Flower and
the Secret Fan which is about the a lifelong friendship of two
girls and the secret womens writing.
Post by Nyssa
Thanks for the review, Carol!
You are welcome
Post by Nyssa
Nyssa, who needs to restack her TBR pile before it falls
over and harms someone
Mike Burke
2017-05-29 11:27:38 UTC
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Post by Carol Dickinson
Post by Nyssa
I studied Chinese history back in my undergrad days when
Mao was still alive and kicking. This book sounds like
something I might like to read when I burn out on cozies
and thrillers.
It's good to change up once in awhile and read something
more serious or even a biography or non-fiction just for
variety and a better scope of understanding the world.
I think you would enjoy this book then. But all of her books
would likely please you. I especially enjoyed Snow Flower and
the Secret Fan which is about the a lifelong friendship of two
girls and the secret womens writing.
Post by Nyssa
Thanks for the review, Carol!
You are welcome
Post by Nyssa
Nyssa, who needs to restack her TBR pile before it falls
over and harms someone
Nyssa, have you read Jung Chang's books, eg Wild Swans and the biography of
Mao that she wrote with her husband?
--
Mique
Nyssa
2017-05-29 12:50:37 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Mike Burke
Post by Carol Dickinson
Post by Nyssa
I studied Chinese history back in my undergrad days when
Mao was still alive and kicking. This book sounds like
something I might like to read when I burn out on cozies
and thrillers.
It's good to change up once in awhile and read something
more serious or even a biography or non-fiction just for
variety and a better scope of understanding the world.
I think you would enjoy this book then. But all of her
books would likely please you. I especially enjoyed Snow
Flower and the Secret Fan which is about the a lifelong
friendship of two girls and the secret womens writing.
Post by Nyssa
Thanks for the review, Carol!
You are welcome
Post by Nyssa
Nyssa, who needs to restack her TBR pile before it falls
over and harms someone
Nyssa, have you read Jung Chang's books, eg Wild Swans and
the biography of Mao that she wrote with her husband?
No, I've never heard of it before this. I'd probably go
for the biography. What is Wild Swans about?

Nyssa, who is reading "End Game" by David Hagberg and will
post a blurb about it when finished
Mike Burke
2017-05-30 02:08:33 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Nyssa
Post by Mike Burke
Nyssa, have you read Jung Chang's books, eg Wild Swans and
the biography of Mao that she wrote with her husband?
No, I've never heard of it before this. I'd probably go
for the biography. What is Wild Swans about?
Nyssa, who is reading "End Game" by David Hagberg and will
post a blurb about it when finished
This is the story of Jung Chang, her mother and her grandmother in
China. It's a marvellous book which records the transition of the
"old" China to the "new" with its effects on the people.

This is what Amazon says about it:

"Few books have had such an impact as Wild Swans: a popular bestseller
which has sold more than 13 million copies and a critically acclaimed
history of China; a tragic tale of nightmarish cruelty and an
uplifting story of bravery and survival.

Through the story of three generations of women in her own family –
the grandmother given to the warlord as a concubine, the Communist
mother and the daughter herself – Jung Chang reveals the epic history
of China's twentieth century.

Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its descriptions, this is
a masterpiece which is extraordinary in every way."

I agree with every word. It's really a pearl without price, but at
$2.97 for the Kindle version, it's the best value for money you'll
find in the real world.

Grab it.

Mique

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