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The Song of the Jade Lily

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  6,017 ratings  ·  918 reviews
Kirsty Manning makes her US debut with this gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII.

1939 : Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as th
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published April 24th 2018)
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Kirsty Manning Hello, thanks for asking. Just the title! It is The Jade Lily in Australia and New Zealand, and The Song of the Jade Lily everywhere else!
Deborah Depends on the young adult, I guess. There are several very graphic depictions of violence and death and a couple of brief sex scenes.

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Angela M
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
There always seems to be something new to learn about WWII and this is another work of historical fiction that has taught me about another facet . I had no idea that Jews migrated to Shanghai before the war. But this story did more than just inform, it moved me because of the strength and courage of the characters and it was a testament to how heartache and loss can elevate people to do things because they love others, because it’s the right thing to do. As a young girl Romy Bernfeld and her par ...more
Kylie D
An enjoyable enough novel set in Shanghai during WW2, it sees Romy flee Vienna with her Jewish family after the Nazi's have taken over, only to have her new home in China suffer the same fate when the Japanese arrive.

We follow Romy and her friend's lives as they try to survive the war in a hostile climate, their loves and alliances. Meanwhile in a second timeline Romy's granddaughter Alexandra is in Shanghai, searching for her family's history. The two timelines intertwine as Alexandra gets ever
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
The Song of the Jade Lily is beautifully told in two timelines. The first is 1939 Shanghai. Two young girls, Li and Romy, become friends. 

Li is from Shanghai, and Romy is a refugee from Vienna. The two become fast friends. World War II seems far away at first, but it descends upon Shanghai and these girls and tears apart their friendship. 

The second timeline is 2016 when a young Alexandra returns to Australia because her grandfather Wilhelm is dying. As Wilhelm spends his last days, he and his w
ℭ𝔬𝔪𝔭𝔢𝔩𝔩𝔦𝔫𝔤. 𝔄𝔟𝔰𝔬𝔯𝔟𝔦𝔫𝔤. ℜ𝔦𝔳𝔢𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤.

Kirsty Manning has written a stunning story filled with secrets, sorrow, and resilience. 1939 Vienna Austria Romy’s family realizes it is in their best interest to leave the country. But the only place that will take them in without a visa is shanghai. Shanghai is miles away, a brief respite from the war, but it isn’t long before shanghai is also impacted by WWII. 2016 Alexandra returns home to Australia from London to see her beloved grandfather before he dies.
Veronica ⭐️
The Jade Lily is a dual time-line narrative.

1938 Vienna, Austria – 11 year old Romy and her parents flee to Shanghai after one of her brothers is shot by German soldiers and the other is herded away with other young Jewish men. On the three month trip to Shanghai by boat, Romy meets Nina and they become firm friends. Their lives take very different paths but bonded by the unspeakable events of war they remain firm friends for life.

2016 Melbourne, Australia – 36 year old Alexandra has rushed home
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ended up being a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this book! I knew before I began that it had dual timelines which is a technique I am getting bored with. I frequently long for a straight, continuous timeline told by one unchanging narrator. It would be refreshing. Anyway the dual timeline in The Jade Lily is okay as my interest in the past and the present was fairly equal throughout. Romy and Nina were fascinating characters when they were young and when they were old. Alexandra was a use ...more
At a time when no other country, including US, UK, Australia, would open its doors to Jews fleeing the concentration camps, Shanghai had opened its doors to more than twenty thousand refugees fleeing Europe during WWII. “It was possible before 1940 to be released from a concentration camp if you had a valid passport, visa, permit to take up residency in another country, and proof of transport. Such release was always subject to the prisoner leaving Germany within a limited time.”

Vienna, Nov. 193
It was 1938 and Romy Bernfeld was forced to flee Vienna with her parents after the Nazis began rounding up Jewish residents. Shanghai was a different city completely – bewildered and afraid, Romy found friendship with a neighbour, Li and her brother, while Romy’s mother was shattered and depressed. Her father, a doctor, began working at the local hospital. Gradually Romy found her way around the French Concession where they lived. But with the Japanese invasion, everything changed once again.

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Jewish families were fleeing Austria, and Romy’s family was on its way to China without her brothers Michael and Daniel. Michael had been shot, and Daniel was taken to Dachau Concentration Camp.

China was the only country during the war that they could enter without a visa.

We meet Romy and her family as they make the journey and settle in Shanghai in 1939.

We then move to 2016 and meet Alexandra who has traveled to Australia from London because her grandfather who raised her was dying.

Being back i
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Kirsty Manning makes a triumphant return to the Australian historical fiction scene with her second novel, The Jade Lily. It is a novel that takes the reader from the precarious times of World War II Austria, to the cosmopolitan streets of Shanghai, through to modern-day Melbourne. If you are looking for a tale that will sweep you away into times gone by, look no further than The Jade Lily.

The Jade Lily is a multiple time frame narrative that begins with pre
His voice started to crack and he took a deep breath. "When we feel that our grief will suffocate us and we simply don't know how to continue, we still have choices. We can choose to give up, or we can choose to fill our time helping others, even if that means you have to step outside the rules sometimes to do the right -- the just-- thing."

Kirsty Manning presents a novel spun differently from the usual thread. It's 1939 and the Bernfelds are fleeing Austria under the threat of Nazi occupation.
Dale Harcombe
This is another story told in two different time frames, which seems to be a popular trend these day. It starts in Vienna in 1938. Given the situation and the persecution of Jews, Romy and her parents are forced to flee. Romy and her family end up in Shanghai. There Romy becomes friends with the budding songstress Li. The other story starts in Melbourne in 2106 with Alexandra, granddaughter of Romy and her husband Wilhelm. When her grandfather dies Alexandra, wanting to know the truth but not wa ...more
DJ Sakata
Favorite Quotes:

Alexandra spent most of her time with men on the trading desks, who walked around the office with their jaws clenched, veins pulsing at their temples. They smelled of adrenaline, expensive aftershave, and fear.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

My Review:

This beautifully written and masterfully crafted book turned me inside out and took my breath away. The writing was elegant, lavishly detailed, evocative, and a feast for the senses with frequent tantalizing descriptions
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Jade Lily is the second novel by Australian author, Kirsty Manning. Alexandra Laird had rushed home from London to be with her grandparents in Melbourne. Opa was dying, and she needed to be with him in his last hours, and to be there for Oma. Her husband’s imminent death brought to mind all the memories that Romy Cohen (nee Bernfeld) had been suppressing. Shanghai, and their years there as Jewish refugees loomed large in her thoughts.

Once Wilhelm has passed, and the proper Jewish mourning r
Kirsty Manning has written a meticulously researched and sumptuously detailed story about an aspect of WWII that - like me - many readers might not be aware of.

The Bernfelds are an Austrian Jewish family that suffers loss during the atrocities of Kristallnacht, but is able to escape to Shanghai before the war really takes hold. There, they initially live in relative comfort in the French Concession, and teenage daughter Romy embraces her new Chinese life and friends. She feels lucky. But as the
Paul Lockman
Kirsty Manning has written an interesting book of historical fiction and there is a lot to like about it. I really enjoyed when we were in Shanghai at the beginning of WWII as I hadn’t read anything about that city at that time. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why I wasn’t as engrossed with this book as most other people are, I almost feel mean only giving it 3 stars. I just felt a little detached from the characters and the story and I also felt that we needed more time in one particular ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve read a lot of Holocaust books, so I appreciated the fact that this one had a setting that was new to me. In 1939, what’s left of the Jewish Bernfeld family is forced to flee from Austria to Shanghai, where most of the book is set. One son has been killed and the other has been sent to a concentration camp, but the teenaged Romy and her parents are able to establish a new home in Shanghai. They form friendships there with the orphaned Nina, the Ho family and various aid workers. Romy has a s ...more
Theresa Smith
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aww2018
The Jade Lily is Australian author Kirsty Manning’s second novel, but it is my first experience of her talent. I’ve read a lot of WWII fiction but my choices have been predominately set in Europe. Even though I have studied WWII history, my knowledge of the war in the Pacific is still more limited than what I know of Europe, so reading this novel set in Shanghai over the war years was an enlightening experience. I had no idea, for example, that Shanghai had opened its borders to Jewish refugees ...more
Robert Sheard
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This may even be a 5-star read for me. I'll have to sit on it a little while. This book is so emotionally powerful, I was completely sucked in. It also had a tremendous string of mysteries and twists, yet Manning plays them all masterfully. Every time I had something "figured out," she'd prove me wrong, in a delightfully shocking way. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. ...more
Laura • lauralovestoread
“𝙹𝚊𝚍𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚖𝚊𝚐𝚒𝚌—𝚋𝚘𝚝𝚑 𝚢𝚒𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚢𝚊𝚗𝚐. 𝙸𝚝’𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚎𝚗𝚎𝚛𝚐𝚢 𝚒𝚗 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐. 𝙰𝚝 𝚒𝚝𝚜 𝚖𝚘𝚜𝚝 𝚋𝚊𝚜𝚒𝚌, 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚎𝚟𝚒𝚕. 𝚆𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚋𝚘𝚝𝚑 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚜𝚎 𝚎𝚗𝚎𝚛𝚐𝚒𝚎𝚜 𝚒𝚗 𝚞𝚜. 𝚆𝚎 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚌𝚑𝚘𝚘𝚜𝚎 𝚠𝚑𝚒𝚌𝚑 𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚠𝚎 𝚞𝚜𝚎 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎.”

What a beautiful story! I just finished reading The Song of the Jade Lily, and it deserves all the stars from me because it pulled the emotion from me, and taught me something new about history which is one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Historical Fiction.

In this novel, dual timelines tell the story of friendship
I’ve read many novels based on WW2 but nothing from the perspective of Shanghai China. It was definitely eye opener for me. Generous and welcoming people who saved so many lives by opening their doors and hearts to European refugees. And for Romy and her family, seeing this country for the first time, so vastly different from their home in Vienna was both thrilling and scaring. I loved reading about their customs and spiritual beliefs - the Yin Yang and sayings to bring them good fortune and saf ...more
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the ARC copy of this that was sent to me.

Unfortunately I struggled with this one. It took me almost a month to read - I picked it up, put it down, and reluctantly picked it back up again.

I’m not really sure what the problem was - the story was written in 2 periods, the WWII period and present day, going back to look at what happened to the grandmother of the present day period during the war period when she was a young woman. I normally like those dual timeline storie
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Jade Lily is Australian author Kirsty Manning's second historical fiction book. It's the first book I have read by Kirsty and I absolutely adored it from the first page! A dual timeline, it alternates between the past and the present in the third person. Set from 1939 onward in both Vienna and Shangahi, I found myself becoming fascinated with both countries, especially Shanghai. I fell in love with Shanghai because of the time and effort Kirsty put into researching this fascinating city. I f ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Jade Lily is a brand new exciting, exotic novel set in Shanghai, China.

The story starts in Vienna then goes to the Brenner Pass in Austria.

It's told over two different time-zones in Shanghai and Melbourne.

Find out the secrets held by two separate families over generations.

What is the Jade Lily and it's meaning and what does it reveal?

Hear about the area famous for its jade carvings.

Will Alexandra be able to find her true past and heritage?

Is all to be revealed from just a photograph and a v
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love learning about aspects of history I didn't know before, like Shanghai housing so many Europeans refugees, or prisoners receiving letters and even being released from concentration camps in the early days, if they had passports and tickets out of Germany! The drawback is I end up reading some truly heartbreaking things. This book truly drew the veil back on life in Shanghai under Japanese occupation, and spoiler alert: it wasn't pretty. But it is also a beautiful story about love and frien ...more
Kate Forsyth
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian, aww2018
I flew off to China on a research trip last month, and so Kirsty Manning’s new book arrived with perfect timing to pack and take with me.

A parallel narrative moving between Australia and China, and modern day and the 1930s, The Jade Lily is a rich and evocative story of family secrets and love.

In 2016, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm, in the final weeks of her grandfather’s life. As she spends time with her grieving grandmother, Alexandra begins to w
I absolutely adored this story. The characters, the settings, all sorts of deep emotional ties - family, friends, acquaintances, and romantic relationships were wonderfully written.

While Jews escaping Kristallnact during WW2 isn’t a new story setting, fleeing to Shanghai, China was a very refreshing and illuminating storytelling. A family escaping Nazis and emigrating smack dab in the middle of Imperial Japan overrunning democratic China was gorgeously laid out. The wonders of a new culture wit
I’m pulling the plug around 40% of the way through. No star rating for a book I read less than half of, but this is just not very good. Far too much overwriting (for instance, nobody smells anything; they “take the fragrance deep into their lungs”). Far too little story. The modern storyline is particularly insufferable, but the WWII storyline is only marginally better.

Finally pulled the plug at a description of a Passover feast in Shanghai written in the Austrian girl’s diary. The presence of
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This book reminded me why I can be picky about historical fiction. The story of Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II was new to me, but ultimately I would have preferred to learn about it through a factual non-fiction book. This story felt exploitative. The plot twists were manipulative and disappointing, the violence was excessive even for a book taking place during World War II in a city with a lot of turmoil. One moment in particular was particularly horrific and egregious and did ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The Author did an amazing job with the Characters. I think I will have to look into other books by this author.
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Kirsty Manning grew up in northern New South Wales. She has degrees in literature and communications and worked as an editor and publishing manager in book publishing for over a decade. A country girl with wanderlust, her travels and studies have taken her through most of Europe, the east and west coasts of the United States and pockets of Asia. Kirsty’s journalism specialising in lifestyle and tr ...more

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