China Dolls Book Review

China Dolls: Book Review by Arlene

4 stars

China Dolls Book Review

Please click here to buy China Dolls by Lisa See.

China Dolls Review:

San Francisco 1938.

Three young women are about to embark on a journey that will take them through their lives until 1988.

 They do not know each other. They are very different in their cultures and life experiences, but they are all at a crossroads in their lives at a pivotal moment, when all three, make a choice that brings them to a chance meeting, from that pivotal moment in time they do not look back and a friendship is formed that will bring them love, sadness, betrayal, success, failure, marriage, children and in the end of it all, will the bond of friendship survive? How could it? This friendship has shaped their lives for 50 years and continued to do so.

 This story by Lisa See gives us the reader a view through the portal of this golden age of the Chinese Nightclub circuit during this time in history.

 Lisa See, through her heartfelt research, reaches us the reader where we can feel the drama of the times, the struggles to make it and become well known, famous and successful and we watch and feel the bonds of this friendship abound, fail and bounce back through their journey together and apart.

China Dolls Book Recommendation:

I enjoyed this book. I did not feel though that it was the best of Lisa See’s work but she did not disappoint me so much that I would not choose to not recommend it.

It was certainly worth the read. If you choose to read it too do so. You will be entertained and learn about who the China Dolls were and how they influenced nightclubs, movies and television during that time.

So come meet Grace, Helen and Ruby as they take you on their journey from San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami and New York.

They danced through their lives together, apart and together again…at least for a little while.

If you liked the China Dolls Book Reviewplease buy here. Or listen to it free with Audible trial.


Please join us in our China Dolls book club  questions, part 1


and China Dolls book club questions, part 2.


16 thoughts on “China Dolls Book Review

  1. Hi Arlene,
    I love books where you can see how characters develop through decades. That’s why I’m such a fan of biographies and autobiographies:) This one sounds like an interesting book to read, so I’ll give it a go whenever I find time.

    1. Hello Kams,
      I do think you would enjoy China Dolls. The three main characters were young women when they met by chance and each character develops throughout the book which spans for many many years. You watch them grow, make mistakes, accept responsibility for their own lives and respect their friendship through it all even through betrayal. It was a very interesting book which takes you through time.

      Thank you for your comments.

  2. Hi Arlene. Thanks for introducing me to a new author! I have never heard of Lisa See. It sounds like a good book to try, I noticed you said that it was a nice book but not her best? Have you done reviews on any of her other books that I can have a look at?
    I am such a bookworm and always love finding new authors.

    1. Hello Lynne,
      I appreciate your comments on China Dolls. I personally have not reviewed any of Lisa See’s other books. If you are interested in getting to know her I would suggest starting with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It is a New York Times bestseller.
      It has been described as “powerfully alive and absolutely impossible to forget.” I have to totally agree with that. This was the first book of hers that I read and I always look forward to the next one. I always learn something and enjoy her style.

  3. China Dolls…Love the title. Haven’t heard of this book before but you’ve given it a great introduction. I’m more into e-books though… Is there an ebook version to it?

  4. Hi!

    Thank you for the review of the book, thorough summary of what to expect.
    I personally likes Chinese classic movies a lot; i can see myself liking this book as well. This reminds me a little of those Ip Man shows where traditional streets are shown as well as the Taiwan Hit Movie – Monga.


    1. Hello Lee,
      I think you will enjoy reading China Dolls. I personally think it would make a great movie. The book moves along nicely while giving you a vivid picture of the history of the Chinese nightclub era.
      Lisa See did a great job of creating characters living and performing during that time.

  5. Hi Arlene

    I found myself interested from the first sentence in your review of this China Dolls review. You have a great way of explaining the plot and enticing the reader to read this book. If I did a lot more reading, I would be very apt to buy this book.

    Well done

    1. Hello Debra
      Thanks for your comments on my review of China Dolls. I really do appreciate your positive feedback.
      I feel doing a review of a book has to be honest and I like to be fair. I always admire the effort the authors put into the story. There are not too many books I regret reading as I always learn something and that is always worth the effort.
      For me reading is not an effort though it is relaxing and time well spent. My days are busy like everyone’s these days so I try to set aside my reading time in the midst of all that I have to do. Thanks again for stopping by.

  6. Hi Arlene, it looks like an interesting novel. I never heard the term China Dolls until now (except the literal meaning: the dolls that were manufactured in China’s factories).

    Is there a movie with this book as a base? Also, is it based on real history? I’m a bit curious there 🙂

    Thanks for reviewing this.

    1. To the best of my knowledge there is not a movie based on the novel.
      It is actually based on real history during the time period of the book.

      Lisa See, as she always does, did extensive research on the subject of the Chinese-American nightclub era.
      She created fictional characters for the book but interviewed actual performers during this period of time who traveled the circuit themselves. The locations mentioned in the book are real except for one. It was a very interesting story.

  7. This is something new, a bit of hidden history brought to our attention. I’m sure many will be interested in reading this.

    1. Thank you for your comments on China Dolls.
      Lisa See did bring to life, as you put it, this bit of hidden history. I appreciated learning about this time in history that I did not know existed. I enjoyed the book very much.

  8. Hi, I had never heard of the China Dolls before, so it certainly sounds like an interesting read. I tend to stay with one genre, but perhaps it’s time to branch out and give this book a try.

    1. Hi Hindy,
      China Dolls is a factual story of history and fate. Although the characters in the story are fictional, they represent the actual lives of the performers during this time period and the fate of the people living there.

      I enjoyed the book and hope our readers do too.

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