OMG, just spent 20 minutes typing a post and then accidentally messed it up! 🙁 Going to try to re-create it…
Done! Glad I read the book, and it flowed pretty quick for me. I always wanted to see what was going to happen next. Mary, like you, I had almost the same exact feelings about the book. I won’t go into too much redundant detail. Like you, I enjoyed the cultural aspects and the historical-cultural side of the book. I like how LS flavors her book with her personal background. I agree though, that at times I felt like the book was too removed personally, and that made it tough to connect with the characters sometimes. I wanted to dig deeper and see more of some of the relationships, especially Pearl and May, and Pearl and Joy. I was disconnected from Pearl many times, because I just felt like her connections to others weren’t written deep enough.
I don’t think I’ll read the sequel. Too many books, and too little time!
Thanks for sharing your story Mary. I think it’s cool when a book can connect to the reader on a personal level.
Same here. There are several things in this book that made me think of my mom’s family a LOT. They were from a different ethnic group, Hispanics. But, they started out in San Francisco in the 30s and 40s, and then moved to Los Angeles in the 40s and 50s. That’s where my mom was born and grew up (which is why I was born there). My mom’s sister is disabled, and lived at home with the family, like Vern. Many of my Mom’s uncles and cousins would go and be movie extras all the time. They also would get cast in stereotypical roles like the Mexican “bandito” or the Mexican bad guys in old Westerns. I think it is kind of cool on the one hand, but then not so much on the other. My Mom went to Catholic school in what was a Hispanic area, but is now a Korean area. She was rebellious young, and was even in a gang! I remember as a young girl in the early 80s, when I’d be at my grandparents house, they always had something to say about some ethnic group or another. Even other Hispanic ethnic groups. Especially my grandmother. She was a trip! It must have been both such an exciting time, but such an unusual time back then for all these different ethnic groups to have “their” parts of the city, and all sorts of different levels of assimilation, relationships with others, etc.
I will have to ask my Mom about Chinatown and China City and all that, and what she remembers of it from back then. I’ll bet she has some good stories.
And shout out to Lisa See for the Clark Gable mention. Woo hoo! There was a scene where she describes May and Joy being extras in a Clark movie. He did do several movies with Asian themes, so it totally fits.
I have seen The Good Earth before, but it’s been a while. I will have to watch it again, paying more attention to the sets that were eventually used in China City. Hollywood was/is so crazy. Can you imagine those old sets being used to simulate China for tourists. Ugh! Only in L.A. and Hollywood! It is sometimes hard for me to watch some of those old movies from a modern perspective. Because they would cast non-Asian actors in the leads, Luise Rainer played the lead, and then alter their faces, hair, etc. to make them look Asian. So weird to watch now. The Good Earth from 1937 is also notable since Luise R. is the only actress to win back-to-back Oscars, one from 1936, the other from The Good Earth.