If you loved The Book Thief or All the Light We Cannot See, then I am 100% positive you will not be able to put The Jade Lily down. You will probably end up reading it non stop (like I did) and you will honestly thank me later once you have finished reading it (you are welcome). I have read a fair share of WW2 inspired fiction books but this one simply blew my mind away.
Blurb: In 2016, fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm, when her grandfather is dying. With only weeks left together, her grandparents begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century.
In 1939, two young girls meet in Shanghai, the ‘Paris of the East’: beautiful local Li and Viennese refugee Romy form a fierce friendship. But the deepening shadows of World War Two fall over the women as Li and Romy slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession and the desperate Shanghai Ghetto. Eventually, they are forced separate ways as Romy doubts Li’s loyalties.
After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. As she peels back the layers of their hidden lives, she begins to question everything she knows about her family – and herself.
A compelling and gorgeously told tale of female friendship, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage to shape us all.
What I liked about it: After reading a few chapters, I found myself googling locations that were repeatedly mentioned, such as the Shanghai French Concession and Shanghai Ghetto. I could not believe I had never heard of Holocaust refugees fleeing to Shanghai. The more I read, the more of an eye opener this book became for me.
It was fascinating following the parallel narratives and time frames moving between Shanghai (1938) and Melbourne (2016). Kirsty Manning’s brilliant use of descriptive imagery made me feel as if I was being transported to Vienna and Shanghai.
I was heavily invested in both narratives but felt more connected with Romy’s character and story. I particularly enjoyed reading about the use of herbal medicine and her heartbreaking journey from Vienna to Shanghai, and then from Shanghai to Melbourne.
This book was so beautiful and sad. It gently tugged on all of my heart strings, one by one, and left me wishing for more in the end. I really hope this ends up as a film adaption.
What I disliked about it: The first few chapters were a little slow but that definitely did not stop from giving this five stars!
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
I recommend this book if you are interested in:
- Holocaust fiction
- Contemporary fiction
- Historical fiction
- Australian fiction