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    Historical fiction at its best - beautifully writt

    This is historical fiction at its best. It’s a story of WWII and how people adjust and cope as the war changed and sometimes destroyed their lives, but this story is from a different perspective, in a different setting, than what we’re generally used to, and it’s a story you won’t soon forget. As the Nazis are beginning to persecute the Jews in Vienna, fourteen year-old Romy and her parents escape to Shanghai but not before one of her brothers is killed in the street and the other taken to a concentration camp. Life in Shanghai is unlike anything they have ever experienced or expected to experience, but they are lucky to be alive and make friends like Li and Jian and their parents, and Wilhelm, another relocated Austrian Jew, find jobs and live a fairly prosperous, if different, life in their new home. At least for a while. But the tentacles of the war reach even Shanghai. The story begins in the present with Alexandra, Romy’s granddaughter, returning home to Melbourne, Australia for her grandfather’s funeral. While there she gets a hint of Romy’s former life in Shanghai and of that of her mother, born in Shanghai and adopted by Romy and Wilhelm. Alexandra will be living in Shanghai for a few months for her job and resolves to find out all she can about her birth mother. The pacing of The Song of the Jade Lily is perfect. Just when you think you can’t stand the suspense any longer and your fear is growing for Romy and Li and their families, the story switches to the present, but then the suspense builds there for the secrets that seem to be just out of Alexandra’s reach. So many well-developed characters, such a beautifully multilayered story – and such sadness but in the end strength and bravery and hope, and love. The Song of the Jade Lily is filled with rich detail. I learned many things about WWII that I never knew had happened. The information about historical events and medical practices in Shanghai is fascinating and the detail enriches the story rather than suffocating it. Vienna, Shanghai and Melbourne are very different, but author Kirsty Manning’s description of each setting is full and lush. Each time the story changed location I felt as if I was magically transported. This is a book you must read. It will make you laugh and cry and stay with you a long time. Thanks to William Morrow/Harper Collins Publishers for an advance copy of The Song of the Jade Lily in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed it, highly recommend it, and will be looking for other books by Kirsty Manning to add to my library.
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