South China Morning Post, 16 March 2023

It’s hard to imagine a world without Isabel; at 91 she was still playing mahjong two days before her hospitalization.

Isabel Sun Chao 趙孫樹瑩

“I was born in what they now call ‘Old Shanghai’ but, to me, it was just my beloved home. I became one of the last to live that legendary lifestyle, as my childhood coincided with the last eighteen years before Mao came to power. My family’s experiences are not ours alone, but of many who fled under more dramatic and distressing circumstances. Even if the specifics may differ, I hope this gives voice to all those in my generation who suffered, survived, and re-invented themselves.”

Excerpt from Remembering Shanghai:

I reflect on the innocent pig-tailed girl I once was, who relished Hollywood films and raising silkworms. I don’t realize yet that my daughter and I have embarked on a journey into the past that will stretch over ten years and uncover a family bank heist, my grandfather’s gangland kidnapping and a lifelong feud between a mob boss and my godfather, a warlord’s son; or that we will discover how my glamorous mother, while trekking across war-torn China, was sold to a stranger, and how the theft of a precious art object offered redemption for my father’s broken dreams.

Claire Chao 趙芝潔

“Growing up in 1960s to ’70s Hong Kong, I was educated in British- and American-run schools, and identified as Shanghainese in a mainly Cantonese and expatriate environment. Though only two hours away by air, Shanghai was inaccessible during my childhood years. Although unaware of it at the time, as a youth I continually sought connections to my parents’ Shanghai homeland. That is probably why, after thirty years in corporate life, I immersed myself for a decade in researching and writing our amazing family stories, uncovering an uncanny connection with the grandfather I’d never met.”

Claire graduated with highest honors from Princeton University and was named to Avenue magazine’s “500 Most Influential Asian Americans” and Hong Kong Tatler’s “Who’s Who in Hong Kong.”

She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband and a lovable chihuahua-pug.

The last photo of Isabel and Claire together,
Hong Kong, October 2022

The 160 sumptuous images in Remembering Shanghai include rarely-published historical illustrations from private collections, original watercolors by two artists and the authors’ own family photographs.