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The Song of the Jade Lily: A Novel by Kirsty…
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The Song of the Jade Lily: A Novel

by Kirsty Manning

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Song of The Jade Lily is a story about family secrets, set in a backdrop of World War II Shanghai. Romy is a young Austrian Jewish girl whose family escaped the concentration camps by settling in Shanghai. There, she meets Li, a local girl, and they form a friendship that the war will test.

The story flashes forward to 2016, where we meet Alexandra, Rory's granddaughter, who feels a tug to investigate her biological mother's life (and the circumstances surrounding her birth). Her investigation reveals many startling realizations (no spoilers here!) that puts her family's relationship at risk.

I enjoyed the Shanghai parts of this book much better than the modern telling. In fact, I wish I could have only read that portion of the story. It was far richer and more interesting for me. Alexandra felt a bit contrived and her investigation somewhat predictable. At least for me! Other readers may find it intriguing.

I would recommend The Song of The Jade Lily to fans of World War II fiction. Rarely do we get to read about a European's experience in Shanghai during World War II, and that history alone is worth the read. ( )
  mrstreme | Apr 23, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a great story. I've read several books that take place during WWII but never have I read one that takes place mostly in Shanghai. All new history for me.

As others have stated the book takes place during WWII and back to present day. The story is about a Jewish family living in Austria but having to leave once Hitler invades their country. Escaping is not easy and the family ends up in Shanghai but not before one son is killed by the Germans and another son spends the war in Dachau. Romy and her parents arrive in Shanghai and become good friends with the Ho family who have a son and daughter. How they lived their daily lives always living with fear and uncertainty.

In present day Alexandra, Romy's granddaughter, is wanting to know more about her Chinese adopted mother. Alexandra's parents died while Alexandra was a child and she was raised by her grandparents. Alexandra goes to Shanghai hoping to discover more about her mother.

There is a lot going on in this book and I went through quite the emotional roller coaster. I wish I could do the book justice. All I can say is read the book. It's a book I'll be thinking about and one that I will be reading again. On a second reading I'll be taking my time and savoring each page. ( )
  written | Apr 7, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This novel is told in alternating time frames between WWII and present day. It is an engaging story about a Jewish family forced to flee Austria when the Nazis arrived. One of their sons is killed in Austria and the other is sent to Dachau. Their remaining child, Romy, is featured in both the former and current events. Their escape to Shanghai is interesting since it's a little-known destination of the Jewish displacement to me, especially since the Japanese were waging war with the Chinese.

There is an intriguing mystery at the core of this book with well-defined strong characters. Due to the alternating time frames, there are multiple layers of understanding that are explored.

My thanks to LibraryThing and the publisher for the opportunity to review this well-researched book. ( )
  pdebolt | Apr 6, 2019 |
What a wonderful book...I love books that blend history and fiction...I was unaware that Shanghai opened its doors to over 20,000 refugees in the 1940's fleeing the cruelties of war...Eventually the horror catches up, even in a place of safety.....The Song of the Jade Lily is one of the best books I have read in a long time....the sights and smells of Shanghai are so vivid....the story of friendship and love and a desire to just live is so strong.... ( )
  ccheripka | Apr 6, 2019 |
With a plot full of secrets, this novel may be remembered most for its description of Shanghai, leading up to and including World War II. Young Romy escaped from Austria with her parents after one brother was murdered by the Germans and another one sent to Dachau. They relocated to Shanghai where all seemed safe, only to be persecuted again by the Japanese during the brutal occupation. The story moves back and forth between the war years and 2016, when Alexandra, Romy's granddaughter, is trying to sort out the story behind her Chinese mother's adoption. Her quest brings her from her high power job in London, to Australia where she grew up with her grandparents, and a new job in Shanghai. The moving around in time and geography is smooth and the characters are clearly enough drawn that they are distinct for the most part. The plot is lightened a bit by the promise of romance as well as the mysteries that Alexandra uncovers. ( )
  sleahey | Mar 22, 2019 |
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Epigraph
Yes, the past is in the present, but the future is still in our hands.
Elie Wiesel, "Bearing witness, 60 years on", speech to the United Nations General Assembly, January 24, 2005
Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.
Confucius, 551-479 BCE
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To my parents, Richard and Carolyn,
who showed me that family is always home
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This is the first time she had broken Papa's rules.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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