A true story of cultural clash and hedonism gone awry as a good girl from a conservative Chinese-Australian family becomes a Shanghai showgirl.
From Sydney suburbia to the grey clouds of London, Jenevieve Chang has been running away for as long as she can remember. Now along with other Westerners trying to escape the 2008 GFC – she has arrived in Shanghai, a city from her family’s past. But this glittering metropolis once known as the ‘Whore of the Orient’ throws up more hurdles than she bargains for.
As her marriage collapses and she struggles to fit in with this over-the-top new world, Jenevieve searches for a place to call home. And then she finds it: Chinatown, Shanghai’s first Vaudeville, Variety and Burlesque Club. She will remake herself as one of the Chinatown Dolls, the most sought-after showgirls in town.
When the club begins to spectacularly derail, though, and with memories of the past pressing in, Jenevieve finds herself more lost than ever. Struggling with her identity amid the hedonism and history of Shanghai, she realises that she’s following in the footsteps of her parents and her grandparents in unexpected ways she hadn’t realised. Now she must decide between the pleasure of propping up illusions or the possible redemption of facing up to her past.
Vibrant, bold and raw, The Good Girl of Chinatown is a memoir weaving multiple narratives across three generations and continents. It is a story about the boundaries we choose to cross and the roles we choose to play. And it is a story about family and the ways we try but sometimes fail to be good for them.
‘Jenevieve Chang is a natural storyteller, and her absorbing memoir spanning China, Britain and Australia is told with grace, precision and unmatched elegance.’ Benjamin Law