Remembering Shanghai

Remembering Shanghai : A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels

4.3 (738 ratings by Goodreads)
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Outstanding Memoir winner and Book of the Year, second place, awarded by the Independent Author Network

A high position bestowed by China's empress dowager grants power and wealth to the Sun family. For Isabel, growing up in glamorous 1930s and '40s Shanghai, it is a life of utmost privilege. But while her scholar father and fashionable mother shelter her from civil war and Japanese occupation, they cannot shield the family forever.

When Mao comes to power, eighteen-year-old Isabel journeys to Hong Kong, not realizing that she will make it her home--and that she will never see her father again. Meanwhile, the family she has left behind struggles to survive, only to have their world shattered by the Cultural Revolution. Isabel returns to Shanghai fifty years later with her daughter, Claire, to confront their family's past--one they discover is filled with love and betrayal, kidnappers and concubines, glittering pleasure palaces and underworld crime bosses.

Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, Remembering Shanghai follows five generations from a hardscrabble village to vibrant Shanghai to the bright lights of Hong Kong. By turns harrowing and heartwarming, this vivid memoir explores identity, loss and the unpredictable nature of life against the epic backdrop of a nation and a people in turmoil.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 308 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 21mm | 558g
  • English
  • 160 Illustrations; Illustrations, color
  • 0999393812
  • 9780999393819
  • 112,556

Review quote

Outstanding Memoir winner and Book of the Year, second place, awarded by the Independent Author Network

"A highly enjoyable addition to a crowded genre. Its subtitle--A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels--sets a certain rollicking tone that's sustained throughout . . . an engaging and entertaining saga."

--Fionnuala McHugh, South China Morning Post

"In this elegantly written, intimate and compelling account spanning turbulent centuries, Remembering Shanghai's authors, mother and daughter, have brought warmly and vibrantly to life their family's extraordinary story of lowly origins, high office, austere scholarship, filial loyalty, scandalous betrayal and fabulous wealth."

--Martin Alexander, the Asia Literary Review

"I finished Remembering Shanghai in one sitting. Isabel's mesmerizing stories of her ancestors are brought vividly into the readers' experience by her daughter Claire's magnificent language. I could not put it down!"

--Betty Peh-T'i Wei, PhD, Old Shanghai

"This book is Isabel and Claire's journey in divining their family history--which is also Shanghai's history--in a well-told tale that is by turns jaw-dropping, exciting, touching, tragic, and insightful."

--Tina Kanagaratnam, Historic Shanghai

"Unforgettable. Many books have been written by former residents of Shanghai in the 1930s and '40s, but few by Chinese. The stories of Isabel Sun Chao and her family give us a unique point of view of Old Shanghai, a place that is long gone but still very vivid in the imaginations of a few."

--Hugues Martin,

"Remembering Shanghai is so absorbing--an amazing family history filled with tragedies and triumphs--a story of resilience and valor told with candor and humor. It is charmingly illustrated and enriched with wonderful photographs. Sections on Chinese customs and traditions are helpful."

--Nelly Fung, Beneath the Banyan Tree and Fung Ping Shan, the Man and His Library

"The facts in Remembering Shanghai are so dramatic they read like fiction. The weave of voices in this book does a terrific job of setting one family's repeated rags to riches story against the backdrop of Shanghai and Chinese history in an era of drastic changes. The illustrations and photos bring the story to life and the sidebars provide valuable insights for western readers into Chinese cultural practices."

--Heather A. Diamond, American Aloha: Cultural Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition
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Rating details

738 ratings
4.3 out of 5 stars
5 51% (378)
4 31% (232)
3 14% (105)
2 2% (15)
1 1% (8)
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