Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
December 2020
7 hours 59 minutes

Writer’s Digest GRAND PRIZE

An Extraordinary Multigenerational Saga

Audiobook narrated by two-time Asian American Film Lab best actress winner Rachel Yong and authors Isabel Sun Chao and Claire Chao

“Jaw-dropping, touching, insightful.” Historic Shanghai

A high position bestowed by China's empress dowager grants power and wealth to the Sun family. Isabel lives a privileged life in glamorous 1930s and '40s Shanghai, sheltered from civil war and Japanese occupation by her scholar father and fashionable mother. But they cannot shield the family forever.

When Mao comes to power, 18-year-old Isabel journeys to Hong Kong, not realizing she will never see her father again. The family she has left behind struggles to survive, only to have their world shattered by the Cultural Revolution. Isabel returns to Shanghai 50 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.

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, meticulously researched memoir explores identity, loss and the unpredictable nature of life against the epic backdrop of a nation in turmoil.

To enhance your enjoyment of the book, listen along with a lavishly illustrated printed copy or ebook, which include 160 rarely published historical images, private family photographs and watercolor illustrations.
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Patricia L.

An incredible memoir written masterly by Isabel and Claire Chao, who recreated their Shanghai heritage with an intimate, elegant prose style that was mesmerizing! The story enriched my understanding and appreciation of Chinese traditions, language and culture. I highly recommend the book/audiobook as a required resource for students of all ages of Chinese language and history and for all who want to understand Chinese traditions for living as it affects our local, national and international world today.

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Anthony C.

Very informative and interesting learning about Chinese culture and custom. It kept my attention as I learned about the historical data of Shanghai Thank you

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Valentina R.

Excellent book, a great mix of personal and historical narrative. I never got bored or lost. I would strongly recommend to anybody with a passion for history and a love for family saga

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John R.

Could not stop listening to this, fascinating story well told with excellent narration. Amazing!

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Cheryl S.

We enjoyed listening to this book as much as we enjoyed reading it. Rich family stories from the heart, honest, entertaining and educational. Thank you for sharing this fascinating history, Claire and Isabel.

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Queenie C.

Beautifully narrated, with lovely pronunciation and just the right accents.

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The audio book captured my interest since my relatives lived in Shanghai before coming to Hawaii. I liked the high musical beginning as it reminded me of my father-in-law playing the Chinese violin with his friends. Thank you for this opportunity to enjoy this book and learn more about Shanghai.

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Linda M.

Reading this book when it first came out was a wonderful experience, but I am so grateful to have been able to download the audio version recently. Listening to the excellent narration, there were so many details I had forgotten or missed the first time around and the voices of Isabel and Claire really added another dimension to a fascinating tale. Even for those who've read and enjoyed the book, I would recommend a second visit through the audio. It's been such good company during these days (months!) of isolation. As my first time 'listening' to a book, I am encouraged to try other favorites, but Remembering Shanghai has set a high bar!

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Su G.

I read this book and love it. I really enjoyed listening to this incredible story about Shanghai. It is full of Chinese culture of the time. I am a Shanghainese but know a little about old Shanghai. I particularly like the part describing the author’s house as I know this house and walked by many times last couple of years. My favorite part is the description about the art collection.

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Jean L.

Such an amazing family story intertwined with Chinese History, hard to believe it's actually true! The characters are brought to life beautifully and the actual voice of Isabel is so touching and enjoyable to hear...

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This was an incredible read. I haven't seen inter-genre writing quite like this before. The wide cast of characters as well as the different lenses of Isabel and Claire are a delight to listen to in the audio book. What a complex and deeply human story. If possible, I recommend listening with the hard copy book in hand as the photos and illustrations really enhanced my experience.

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Jennifer D.

Captivating story and wonderful performance! I couldn’t put this audiobook down and didn’t want it to end! Great story and so well-written. I call myself Shanghainese, but I feel like I know so little about the old Shanghai’s glamorous past – the tradition and the culture. Growing up in a different era, the old China/Shanghai was a forbidden topic. The writer’s vivid descriptions brought me back to the old Shanghai, of which I’ve only known bits and pieces. Through this well-researched book, I learned so many facts. Very educational! Wonder if I can get my ABC nephew to read or listen to this book ;) I thoroughly enjoyed this audio version. The narrator was a very good storyteller, and her mandarin pronunciation was excellent. Isabel’s voice at the end was such a treat! I also got a print version of this book as well for the beautiful illustrations and photos. This book has inspired me to learn more about my culture and maybe my family history, too...

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Charlotte B.

Thrilling real life family saga, exploring Five generations of the Sun Family. Intimate stories of love, loss and longing, set against the epic backdrop of Chinese history. An unforgettable memoir - a love letter to Shanghai, and a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

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So well done - I enjoyed the story and narration immensely!

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John S.

A delightful jaunt through Chinese history with a cast of fascinating characters brought to life by the narrator.

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