Book Clubs

Discussion questions for The Last Rose of Shanghai:

  • When Aiyi first appears in the novel, she wears “a custom-made shoe.” Was that surprising to you?
  • When Ernest Reisnmann arrived in Shanghai, how did he feel about the city?
  • When Aiyi Shao first met Ernest, why did she refrain from expressing her gratitude?
  • Shanghai in 1940 was a divided city. How did politics affect the people living in those separated districts? Can you give some examples?
  • Can you give a few examples of cultural differences in the novel?
  • How would you describe the character of Aiyi Shao at the beginning? Did she change? How?
  • Does the character Ernest Reismann feel realistic to you? Why?
  • Discuss the sibling dynamic in the novel. How did Aiyi get along with her brothers, Sinmay and Ying? How did Ernest get along with his sister Miriam?
  • Sir Victor Sassoon was a historical figure. Have you heard of him before? How would you describe the character of Sir Victor Sassoon in this novel?
  • Emily Hahn was a historical figure. How would you describe the character in the novel, the journalist, an independent woman living in Shanghai on her own, an opium addict, and an American who fell in love with a Chinese poet?
  • How important do you think music plays in the novel?
  • Laura Margolis was a historical figure. Describe her contribution to the Jewish refugees in the novel.
  • How would you describe Yamazaki?
  • Describe the horrible condition inside the Jewish Ghetto. Do you think this tragic confinement could have been avoided?
  • Was the ending predictable? Why?

Discussion questions for The Moon in the Palace:

  • How much did you know about the palace women in ancient China before you read this novel? In what ways do you think the palace women in China were similar to those in Europe?
  • Discuss the many facades of love in the novel, and how it manifests itself in the following characters: Mei, Pheasant, Jewel, Emperor Taizong, Taizi, and the Noble Lady.