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REVIEWS

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South China Morning Post

Dec 9, 2017

Fionnuala McHugh

 


“Absolutely gorgeous—so beautifully done—the book is such a pleasure to hold and a visual delight with the turn of every page.” —Martin Alexander, the Asia Literary Review

“Absorbing—an amazing family history filled with tragedies and triumphs—a story of resilience and valor told with candor and humor.” —Nelly Fung, Beneath the Banyan Tree and Fung Ping Shan, the Man and His Library

“Sadness, pain, turmoil, love, beauty and strength and that is just in the first few chapters. The book gives the reader a power from truth and a story that will take them on a journey of struggle with light at the end. You must be prepared to cry and feel deeply, but then have a few bits of laughter brought in between. By the end of the book there is a connection and sense of closure." Cassandra M.'s Place

“As an Old Shanghai fan, I was transported by Claire and Isabel’s family saga, from the eyewitness accounts of the jazz era and long-gone bourgeois lifestyle to the wonderful photos of qipao. Historical background is also superbly documented, helping the reader understand what was at stake during China’s dramatic twentieth-century changes. I highly recommend this book!” —Didier Pujol, Old Shanghai blogger, Hong Kong

“Engaging characters, richly detailed descriptions and exquisite illustrations [...] We mourn what might have been yet savor what Isabel and Claire have restored via memory and meticulous research. Long after reading their book, you’ll fondly remember Shanghai.”  —Debra Lee Baldwin, photojournalist and author, Escondido, CA

“This insightful memoir provides personal details that [serve] as living history to better understand China today and yesterday.” —Dr. William Zanella, (ret.) associate professor of Asian history, Honolulu, HI

Remembering Shanghai is the most interesting and well written book I have read in recent years. [...] Isabel will always remain my idol!” —Julie C., Hong Kong

“Positively riveting—a real gem!”  —D.L., Hong Kong

Remembering Shanghai is a memoir that reads like an epic novel and a poem at the same time. I was utterly hooked from the first line until the very last page. [...] An astonishing story, the kind that stirs deeply and stays with you.” —Sally Nhomi, Honolulu, HI

“Extraordinarily well-written [...] I want to get more copies to give to those who want to know more about the history of Old Shanghai.” —S.M.G., Hong Kong

Remembering Shanghai is masterful, intriguing and delightful—a labor of love.” —Priscilla G., Honolulu, HI

“Beautifully written, historically educational and a fascinating story.” —Laura W., Honolulu, HI

“I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, especially the tidbits about old Shanghai [...] invaluable to the younger generation such as myself, and without which we’d lose a precious connection to our past.” —Kenneth Y., Shanghai

“I absolutely loved this book. More so having known Claire Chao, but more importantly it is beautifully written. Anyone with longtime Hong Kong connections will enjoy it.” —Ann B., Mosman, Australia

"A masterpiece—a fascinating part of history, but also a fascinating family progression—truly epic.” —Karen Thorne, New York, NY

“Kudos to Isabel Sun Chao and Claire Chao for this beautifully written account of their impressive and colorful family history spanning five generations. I was captivated by the stories from beginning to end, and thoroughly enjoyed it.” —Dinah Lin, MBA, Daring to Dream Once Again—It’s Never Too Late!

Remembering Shanghai is an engaging generational story in which a daughter asks her mother for the details of her early life. Many childhood experiences once buried come to light. The thoughtful remembrance draws the reader into the lives of this amazing family and focuses on the consequences of an era that still affects society.”—Sharon Fairbanks, Honolulu, HI

“Extraordinary in every way. The family story is fascinating, well organized and colorful—a great legacy.” —Adam Inselbuch, Litchfield, CT

“Absolutely spellbinding—a chronicle of tragedy and hardship, leavened with a persistent optimism and endurance. It is a triumph of the human spirit, conveyed compellingly.” —Bill Clark, Marblehead, MA

 

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

“The book is written to make Chinese traditions easily accessible for non-Chinese readers.” —John Berger, Honolulu Star Advertiser

“I truly enjoyed reading Remembering Shanghai. It evoked Shanghai so vividly I felt I was there, [...] and it brought tears and laughter to me for over a week.” —Nicholas von Sternberg, cinematographer, Valencia, CA

“Unforgettable. [...]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, www.shanghailander.net

“You can hardly put down the book once started … such an engaging and intimate account of a prominent Shanghai family charted over five generations of change and turbulence.” —Cheongsam Connect

“What a fabulous book! I love everything about it—the lively anecdotes, the evocative illustrations, and the brilliant way in which Isabel’s personal memories, Claire’s perspective, and rich historical and cultural information are blended. [...] All too soon I was marveling at the magical ending. A wonderful read!” —Carmen Chan, Tokyo

“I finished Remembering Shanghai with tears in my eyes. [...] Mother and daughter share a gift for storytelling that captivates and brings to life the rich history, culture, food and everyday life of a time and place that most of us have little opportunity to learn about. They’ve created a treasure—a family history that is a gift to all. —Beth C., Brooklyn, NY

Remembering Shanghai felt like a visiting friend and companion whom I was sad to say bye at the end of the book. Heartfelt and engaging, it is a wonderful read.” —Debbie C., Mountain View, CA

“This is such a great read—an amazing and inspirational book on many levels—luxuriously colorful and detailed descriptions that made me swoon and laugh out loud, offering important insights that would otherwise be lost. [...] An enriching and gorgeous, tragic, victorious story that nourished my heart and my brain.” —Bernice Kiyo Glenn, Lanikai, HI

Remembering Shanghai is a magical passport into a place and a life that was and is extraordinary. I don’t remember ever being so engaged by a personal history, so rich in detail on so many levels. [...] Apart from the story itself, the collaboration between mother and daughter over such a long period is striking and enviable.” —Linda Mettler, San Francisco, CA

Remembering Shanghai had me totally hooked and fascinated. My grandmother left Shanghai on her honeymoon and never went back; I can only guess that she shared many of the same hardships. I am sure this beautifully written memoir will touch many.” —Jackie Hui, Hong Kong

“The striking exterior of this book lured me in. Leafing through the pages, I was delighted by the exquisite drawings and curious about the people in the photos.” —Lori Eldridge, Honolulu, HI

“A fascinating story of how a family endures hardship, betrayal and separation, covering the history of China from the mid-nineteenth century until modern times. . . . It tells the importance of forgiveness and love in family dynamics, and left me with hope and excitement for future generations.” —Cindy Schultz, Honolulu, HI

“The stories shared by Isabel and Claire paint a portrait of life in Shanghai in the 1930s for a privileged class. I’m thankful that they took the time to share Isabel’s story, as well as the painstaking research in piecing the background together. Looking forward to the televised treatment!”—Peter Y., Stanford, CA

“An entertaining and informative version of ancient to modern china—a gem!”—Jean-Luc B., Hong Kong

“A terrific book—the Sun family’s story seems like the stuff of fantasy and yet there it is, real, researched, documented and told so well. I was amazed how everything tied together, culminating in the heartwarming gift of a grubby package. An incredible story!” —Susan Essoyan, Honolulu, HI

 

“Mesmerizing ...  magnificent. I finished Remembering Shanghai in one sitting.” —Betty Peh-T’i Wei, PhD, Old Shanghai and Shanghai: Crucible of Modern China

"Must read if you are interested in Shanghai." shanghai-today.com

"Remembering Shanghai [is] so dramatic [it] read[s] like fiction [...] provid[ing] valuable insights for western readers into Chinese cultural practices.” —Heather A. Diamond, American Aloha: Cultural Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition

“An absorbing true tale of Old Shanghai, beautifully written and illustrated.” —Genevieve Young, book editor, New York, NY

“I loved it [...] very moving.”   —Diane T. Woo, New York, NY

“A delight from cover to cover, I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the story of this very intriguing family. I truly did not want this book to end!” —Kathy C., Sarasota, FL

“Claire and Isabel took me back together in their journey and it’s amazing! [...] Wonderful narratives so vividly written. The fact that mother and daughter co-wrote this is so touching and heartwarming.” —Vanessa Hui, Hong Kong

“A tapestry of sheer delight [...] a narrative that’s enjoyable, enlightening and compelling.” —Shirley Chen, Hong Kong

“A remarkable true story that will be savored by any reader. [...] Like an exquisite silk fabric, the expertly crafted anecdotes, memories, illustrations and photos are lovingly stitched together to bring this memoir to life.” —Carol Braig, Longmont, CO

“Cover to cover; I could not put down this beautifully illustrated gripping account of the Sun family’s evolution from accidental wealth and privilege through the cruelty of Mao to the modern generation.” —Barbara Stehouwer, Honolulu, HI

“Beautifully written and illustrated. I plan on sharing it with my friends, especially those who remember this time in China.” —Melanie F., Honolulu, HI

“Claire Chao [writes] with great accuracy and with vivid images of Shanghai. Her mom, Isabel Sun Chao created a historical base for a legendary family story rich with anecdotes.” —David Au, Hong Kong

“Wonderful [...] a great ride.” —Robert E., San Francisco, CA

“This family story is one for the ages, with unexpected twists and turns—a treasure and a labor of love. Fate had a hand in this drama being told. I want to read it again!” —J. B., Honolulu, HI

“A wonderful book that comes alive as you read it [...] A must read for 2018 [...] Fantastic!” —Suzanne Angelides, Solihull, UK

Remembering Shanghai transports one almost magically through the unforgettable events of Chinese twentieth-century history. Isabel and Claire capture the voices, the moods and the motivations of their family members, all constricted by seemingly inflexible tradition. Each in the family is treated with the relative gentleness, respect and forgiveness the passage of time allows. The resulting beautiful book rings so true that one can hear them speak. Close your eyes, and you’re in old Shanghai.” —Diane Hastert, Honolulu, HI

“I just love this book. The intimate details drawn within the historical context of Shanghai at a crucial time for China made for a book I couldn’t put down.” —Sarah Puhy, Westport, CT

“An outstanding book.” —Larry Quek, Singapore

“An incredible 200-year journey that is much more than a memoir—a beautifully detailed recounting of the lives and places we need to hear about in order to better understand ourselves, and help untangle the complex strands of Chinese history and culture.” —Susan Paolini, New York, NY

“The stories shared by Isabel and Claire paint a portrait of life in Shanghai in the 1930s for a privileged class. I’m thankful that they took the time to share Isabel’s story, as well as the painstaking research in piecing the background together. Looking forward to the televised treatment!” —Peter Y., Stanford, CA