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True stories of glamour, drama, and tragedy told through five generations of a Shanghai family, from the last days of imperial rule to the Cultural Revolution.

“Highly enjoyable . . . an engaging and entertaining saga.” —Fionnuala McHugh, South China Morning Post, Post Magazine

“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, author of Old Shanghai

“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, editor in chief of Asia Literary Review


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Now available from 

Hong Kong Bookazine 

and select US bookstores

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About the Book

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 China in turmoil.