Winner of 28 Awards including
the Writer’s Digest Grand Prize​

Remembering shanghai

A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels

Isabel Sun Chao and Claire Chao

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“Beautiful and rich, with fascinating details—transports the reader to Shanghai and Hong Kong ...This volume is a treasure.”

Lisa See, author of Shanghai Girls and The Island of Sea Women


Reader Views

“Engaging and entertaining.”

South China Morning Post


Hong Kong Review of Books

“An unexpected gem.”

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of China

“Absolutely gorgeous.”

Asia Literary Review

True stories of glamour, drama, and tragedy told through five generations of a Shanghai family, from the last days of imperial rule to the Cultural Revolution.

A high position bestowed by China’s empress dowager grants power and wealth to the Sun family. For Isabel, growing up in glamorous 1930s and ’40s Shanghai, it is a life of utmost privilege. But while her scholar father and fashionable mother shelter her from civil war and Japanese occupation, they cannot shield the family forever.

When Mao comes to power, eighteen-year-old Isabel journeys to Hong Kong, not realizing that she will make it her home—and that she will never see her father again. Meanwhile, the family she has left behind struggles to survive, only to have their world shattered by the Cultural Revolution. Isabel returns to Shanghai fifty 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.

Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, 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 memoir explores identity, loss and the unpredictable nature of life against the epic backdrop of China in turmoil.

Remembering Shanghai is available as a hardcover, paperback, audiobook and ebook. The print and ebooks include 160 full-color illustrations and vintage black-and-white photos.

To order online: for US and Canada addresses, please go to Use promo code SHANGHAI20 to receive a 20% discount. For additional volume discounts, order here.

For other destinations, we recommend, which offers free worldwide shipping.


With the voices of Rachel Yong, Claire Chao and Isabel Sun Chao

Listen to audiobook samples below

  • Preface: Just Eighteen 00:00

Preface: Just Eighteen

  • Chapter 4: Tael End 00:00

Chapter 4: Tael End

  • Chapter 18: Good Time Harley 00:00

Chapter 18: Good Time Harley