I first learned about paper wives and paper daughters in a different historical fiction story, and I knew it was a topic I wanted to know more about. When I came across this book, I knew this was what I had been searching for. This was a wonderful mix of fiction and real historic information. I felt like I was able to learn a lot and be swept away by a story.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown focuses on Donaldina Cameron’s work at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in San Francisco. We follow 15 years of her story in saving women and children from the clutches of opium dens and prostitution rings.
I loved the way the chapters flowed from one story to another. Sometimes the POV alternates between Donaldina and a young Chinese girl taken from her home and brought to San Francisco. Both perspectives are wonderful, and I loved the addition of the perspective from one of the girls.
Each chapter has a real excerpt from an interview, a newspaper article, or a journal. I really enjoyed these snippets of historical information. It helped to round out the story, and I thought it was such a wonderful addition to the book.
Donaldina, “Dolly”, was an amazing main character. She was easy to like, I mean who wouldn’t like a woman that breaks into brothels to rescue women asking for help? But, I really liked the way she is written. We get to see her struggles with her job, how she worries about what she should or shouldn’t do, how she takes risks to save just one life. She clearly becomes a woman to look up to, and I loved her.
My only complaint with the story is that at times, it moved too fast. It’s a fairly well-sized novel, so I don’t necessarily want it to be longer, but I wanted some portions of the story to have last a little longer, and have some additional information. The book spans 15 years, so there is a lot to talk about. I got connected to some of the girls, and I just wanted a bit more of their story.
Overall, I absolutely loved this one! It’s historical fiction that you can enjoy well-researched details and a great story!
To Read or Not To Read:
If you enjoy historical fiction around real events and people,