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The Song of the Jade Lily

A Novel
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (67 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Kirsty Manning weaves together little-known threads of World War II history, family secrets, the past and the present into a page-turning, beautiful novel." (Heather Morris, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz)

A 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 they slip between the city's glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon, the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart. 

2016: Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks, Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother's history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother's own past in Shanghai. 

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents' past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family - and herself. 

The Song of the Jade Lily is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

©2019 Kristy Manning (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

So Boring!

1/2 a star for the historical interest.

I am struggling my way through this book and am posting a review as I go because it is such a frustrating (not to mention boring) book. Just because you have an interesting historical fact (Some Jews fled to Shanghai just prior to WW2) does not, ipso facto, mean you have an interesting novel. You still need some interesting characters and some narrative tension. I believe I'm on chapter 19 of this book and it is literally going nowhere. Romy is in Shanghai (in 1939) and Alexandra is in Shanghai (in 2016)...and that's really about it. That is what has been covered in 19 blooming chapters. I'm listening to this book on audible and I keep speeding up the narration to see if it goes anywhere, like if there is a plot that is, you know, interesting and keeps you riveted. So far. Nothing. Zippo. Nada. It kind of reminds me of Cheech's "what I did last summer" essay on the comedy sketch "Sister Mary Elephant." "On the first day of summer, I woke up. Then I went down town to look for a job. On the second day of summer, I woke up. Then I went down town to look for a job. On the third day of summer..."

You get my drift. A good novel needs narrative tension and so far this novel is clearly lacking.

*Update* 65% of the way through this book and it still reads like “Sister Mary Elephant.”But wait! Apparently there is a big secret to be revealed! Oooo...after spending 7 hours so far, surely the big secret will make the book all worth wading through.

*Update* It was not worth it. When the big secret was finally revealed...meh...it was really not a,big surprise at all, and certainly not having to wade through the aimless 65% of the beginning of the book.

I really, really did not like this book. I felt it lacked narrative tension to drive it along and the characters were not interesting enough to sustain a story that drifted along slower than Tom Sawyer going to his chores.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful

This story is beautifully written. I did not know a lot about the Jews in China during WWII. Since reading this story I have done some research on the Subject matter.
I truly enjoyed this story!

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The Song Of The Jade Lily

Rich in layers, outstanding storyline. Very gratifying - a group of characters I will think of again and again.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty good, not great.

Story:
Good in macro, but needs better stitching together of scenes. Initially confusing about who all the characters are and in which time and place cuz story jumps around so much in time and place. Characters need to be better introduced in the beginning and chapters maybe could be better arranged. Where was the editor?

Narration:
Well done, except narrator needs bit of coaching in pronunciation of Oma and Opa.