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REVIEWS


“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

“A front-row-center seat through one of the most turbulent and extraordinary times in Chinese history. Gifted storytelling drenched in insight, wisdom and love.” —Robin Stephens Rohr, Chicken Soup from the Soul of Hawaii

“I couldn’t put it down, as I was drawn into the vivid descriptions of life in Shanghai. This book is a treasure.”—Robert Adler, Rye Brook, NY

“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

“What a remarkable, wonderful and beautiful book. Wow.”—Jamie O’Donnell, Hong Kong

“Sadness, pain, turmoil, love, beauty, and strength, and that is just in the first few chapters ... be prepared to cry and feel deeply." —Cassandra M.'s Place

“I was transported ... from the eyewitness accounts of the jazz era and long-gone bourgeois lifestyle to the wonderful photos of qipao. The historical background is also superbly documented. I highly recommend this book!”—Didier Pujol, Hong Kong & Shanghai Tours blog

“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, associate professor of Asian history (ret.), 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...it is beautifully written.” —Ann B., Mosman, Australia

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

“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!

“...an engaging generational story [that] 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

“This book captures the atmosphere and rich life of Shanghai more than any other I have read.” —Patrick Corcoran, Saugerties, NY

“Beautiful ... touching ... like a dear friend who I wanted to keep talking to about our lives.” —Frances Hallonquist, Honolulu, HI

"Such a vivid memoir with many well-drawn characters. An excellent format, weaving Isabel’s vivid descriptions and affectionate memories of life in Shanghai, alternating with daughter Claire’s background history and context. Beautiful illustrations and photographs really captured the age and added another layer of enjoyment as I read and re-read Isabel’s memoir." —Bee Robb, London

“Fascinating. The mother’s extraordinary life coupled with the daughter’s talent for writing makes for riveting reading. So much history that was new to me added to the enjoyment. I read each night until my eyelids dropped.” —M. L. M., Honolulu, HI

“I re-scheduled work appointments because I was so captivated by this book. I could visualize, smell, and hear what the authors described so eloquently and passionately. I fell in love with Isabel as the unsung heroine—courage and strength that only now as an adult I can appreciate.” —Ray Janssen, Miami, FL

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

“What stands out isn’t the scandals involving the men, but the strength and independence of Isabel’s mother and grandmother … Isabel and Claire’s stories also shed light into 1950s Hong Kong, particularly the new communities settled by Shanghai immigrants … Few books have discussed this.”—Susan B. Kason, Asian Review of Books

“A multigenerational epic ... written to make Chinese traditions easily accessible.” —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, Shanghailander blog

“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

“I am so impressed by Claire’s ability to combine warmth and love for her family history within the context of Chinese history, especially art history. It is fascinating that Princeton’s art collection and her thesis topic brought to light a significant part of her grandfather’s art collection. Claire is such an engaging speaker.” —Mo Chen, following Claire’s 1 June 2018 talk at the Princeton University Art Museum

“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. 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.” —Linda Mettler, San Francisco, CA

Remembering Shanghai had me totally hooked and fascinated ... this beautifully written memoir will touch many.” —Jackie Hui, Hong Kong

“I loved the pictures that gave the reader a visual representation of Shanghai…if you closed your eyes, it would be like you were there. Beautifully written … definitely a keeper.” —Momskoop, named as one of its Five Top Summer Reads

“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...it left me with hope and excitement for future generations.” —Cindy Schultz, Honolulu, HI

“Paint[s] 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, [and for] the painstaking research. 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

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

“An outstanding book.” —Larry Quek, Singapore

“I particularly appreciated the two distinct voices … each independent, yet they strengthen each other. I enjoyed the family saga via the lens of an innocent girl so much that I almost forgot the wartime setting, challenging my usual perception of historical unrest. I cherished the forgiving tone throughout the book, as well as the lovely illustrations and reader-friendly chapter breaks. Admirable work indeed!" —Nianci Li, Shanghai

“A great book about Shanghai … full of beautiful photographs which, with the beautiful writing, goes a long way towards imagining what Shanghai was like at the time.” —Fleur Huijskens, China 2025 blog (translated from the original Dutch)

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

“It has been some time since I have found a book I truly could not put down—Remembering Shanghai is a beautiful narrative peppered with insights, illustrations, and commentary to paint a Shanghai that would otherwise be lost.” —Jennifer J. Lau, PhD, Fête Chinoise

“Must read if you are interested in Shanghai.” —shanghai-today.com

Remembering Shanghai is so dramatic it reads like fiction ... providing 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

“This is the best book I’ve read in years! The writing is exquisite. The illustrations and photos bring the story to life. It will touch anyone who has wished to understand the lives of their ancestors.” —Kathy Jimenez, Norwalk, CT

“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 ... 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 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

“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

“What distinguishes this story is the beauty of watching the bond between mother and daughter grow as they discover their often shocking ancestral secrets. The history, the culture, and the voice of this memoir will keep you reading until the very end.” —Jamie Sumner, Literary Mama blog