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The Lives Before Us

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4.35  ·  Rating details ·  17 ratings  ·  9 reviews
A beautifully written, sweeping story of survival, community and love ...

It it April 1939, and, in Berlin and Vienna, Esther and Kitty face a brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.

Shanghai … They’ve heard it whispered that Shanghai might offer refuge. And so, on a crowded ocean liner, these women encounter each other for the first time.

Kitty
...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 28th 2019 by Black & White Publishing
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4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  17 ratings  ·  9 reviews


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Peter
Survival
The Lives Before Us is an accomplished, poignant and gracefully compelling story. A story steeped in history but personalised through the characterisation and life of 3 main characters, Esther, Kitty and Yì. Juliet Conlin has written a story conveying a sense of constant upheaval and a struggle to survive, during one of the World’s darkest periods. When hopes and expectations would remain dreams and a harrowing life was all that awaited the victims of a World at war.

In April 1939, 5 mont
...more
Beata
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting novel describing the fate of the Jewish immigrants who were lucky to leave Germany and Austria before WW2 began. The immigration, as it turned out, saved their lives. The destination place was Shanghai, one of the few places then that accepted Jews and where the immigrants lived or rather survived in most dramatic circumstances. Two female characters, Kitty and Esther, have different background and stories that they take when they embark the ship. I liked the way the autho ...more
Whispering Stories
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com

April 1939 German widower Esther Niermann and her little daughter Anneliese and Austrian Kitty Blume are both Jewish and fleeing their respective countries before the war breaks out. They know of what Hitler and his men will do to the Jewish people.

They meet on board a ship heading from Genoa to Shanghai, China when they are both given the same cabin to share for the eight-week journey. The crossing is rough and sickly but the two women become
...more
MrsCookesBooks
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I knew that I would fall in love with this book as soon as I had read the first few pages and I sat about for a long while once it was over, wondering how on earth my review could do this book justice. This is historical fiction at its very best; a moving journey with two strong and brave yet strikingly different women at its heart, entwined with the life of a young boy from Shanghai. Whilst reading, my senses were assaulted by a cacophony of sights, sounds and smells; I really felt as if I was ...more
Joanne
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Lives Before Us is the story of Kitty and Esther, Jewish women fleeing Vienna and Berlin as World War 2 threatens and they face being sent to live in ghettos or worse. Shanghai is one of the few places which still accepts refugees at this point and the women meet when they share a cabin on board the boat there. Esther is a widow, seeking sanctuary for herself and her young daughter Anni. Kitty is travelling to join her wealthy, Russian fiancee Vitali who has promised a life of luxury. Howeve ...more
Annette Jordan
I loved this World War 2 era book, set in the exotic city of Shanghai, which follows the lives and adventures of three very different people. In Nazi occupied Europe in 1939 escape routes for Jews are few and far between. Esther and her young daughter are fleeing and one of the only cities that is still a free port open to all nationalities is Shanghai, so they board an ocean liner in search of a safer future. Once on board they meet Kitty, also Jewish, who is travelling to Shanghai on the promi ...more
Mairead Hearne (swirlandthread.com)
Two women. A world at war.
Can they survive the Shanghai Ghetto?


The Lives Before Us is the latest novel from Juliet Conlin and has just been published with Black & White Publishing. It is a book that invoked such emotions as the characters came alive for me. I travelled across the world with them and followed them into this new and strange environment where their lives would be changed forever.

I had never heard of the Shanghai Ghetto, until now. In the late 1930s, Shanghai was categorized a
...more
Joy Corkery
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review originally published here: https://joyfulantidotes.com/2019/04/1...

I’ve read a lot of WWII books set in England. My favourite aspect of these books is how people bond to get themselves through a hard time. I especially love the female friendships that come from these struggles. I found the exact same with The Lives Before Us and was really invested in what would come of the friendship between Esther and Kitty.

I know some people might turn their noses up at another WWII book but this book
...more
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Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her husband and four children in Berlin. She writes in both English and German. Her novels include THE UNCOMMON LIFE OF ALFRED WARNER IN SIX DAYS and THE FRACTURE ...more
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