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The Jade Lily

Praise for The Midsummer Garden

'This is a rich, sensual, and evocative novel, fragrant with the smell of crushed herbs and flowers, and haunted by the high cost that women must sometimes pay to find both love and their vocation.' Kate Forsyth

'...compelling, passionate and admirable.' Australian Women's Weekly

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 gorgeously told tale of female friendship, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage to shape us all.
Booklovers earn $1.45 in rewards when purchasing this title


  • Title: The Jade Lily
  • Author: Kirsty Manning
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • ISBN: 9781760294793
  • Length: 234.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre
  • Languages: English
  • Format: PaperBack
  • Category: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: 24/04/2018
  • Pages: 300


28/04/2018 8:04:54 AM - Glenwyn
Beautiful story
I loved "The Jade Lily". Beautifully written, the story transported me from the beauty and mystery of Shanghai, to the despair, tragedy and heartbreak of war. The book has given me a desire to see Shanghai, taste the foods of the City and visit the beautiful gardens. A truly lovely book.

12/05/2018 3:34:17 PM - Jessica
Great read
A beautifully written story about love and friendship. Set in Shanghai during world war 2, the vivid descriptions of the city and the exotic food and spices draws you in and creates a beautiful backdrop to the story

8/07/2018 12:45:57 PM - Veronica
Dual time line Historical Fiction
The Jade Lily is a dual time-line narrative.<br/><br/> 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.<br/><br/> 2016 Melbourne, Australia – 36 year old Alexandra has rushed home from England to be by her dying grandfather’s side, leaving behind a broken romance. Her Grandmother, Romy, is stoic and strong and with lifelong friend Nina by her side she goes about her business without a fuss. This stoic, strong attitude is so endearing and understandable from the women that have been through countless injustices throughout their life and have learned to keep going and do whatever you can to survive through these adversities with no complaint.<br/><br/> Alexandra’s parents died in a car accident when she was young and she was brought up by her grandparents. She knows that her mother Sophia was adopted by Romy and Wilhelm. There is much secrecy around Sophia’s adoption and whenever Alexandra brought it up with her grandparents she could see they were genuinely distressed, so she let the matter drop. Alexandra’s story is one of trying to find out who she is, what makes her the way she is, her ancestry. Armed with nothing but an old photo, her mother’s adoption certificate, an old diary and a jade necklace she accepts a job offer in Shanghai and starts to ask questions.<br/> When Alexandra visited the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum and saw her great grandparents’ and grandmother’s names engraved on the wall I could almost feel the goosebumps myself. How surreal this moment must have been!<br/><br/> The Jade Lily is an atmospheric tale of the atrocities of war and the stoic, strong women that endured it.<br/> Manning has written a heart-felt historical fiction detailing the hardships endured by the displaced and the unfailing spirit of these people to keep going when all seems lost.<br/> A large focus throughout the story is the blending of cultures as refugees from different countries introduce their cultures and foods into Shanghai. Traditional Chinese medicine is also explored with the healing power and well-being benefits of different blends of herbs and acupuncture.<br/> Shanghai was the star of this story! The people, the food, the customs, the countryside, the refugees and the architecture all feature prominently, then and now.<br/><br/> <i>” this swirling metropolis where decadence and depravity skipped hand in hand and it seemed rules were meant to be broken”</i><br/> <br/> The Jade Lily is an intensively researched story that conveys the shocking cruelties endured by the displaced during the war and one woman’s journey of strength and love as she comes of age during these trying times. The vivid descriptions are a sensual feast of odours, flavours, sounds and sights from the streets of Shanghai.<br/><br/> If you read Historical Fiction this is one book you must add to your shelf.<br/><br/> <i>*I received an uncorrected proof copy from the publisher</i>

2/05/2018 3:05:53 PM - Lara
I received The Jade Lily as an advance copy, and it is simply brilliant. Moving between war time Vienna and Shanghai, and modern day Australia, the imagery evoked by this story is simply stunning. The novel tells the story of a displaced Jewish family who move to Shanghai during the war, and befriend a Chinese family during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in WWII. With love and loss aplenty, we move through their lives from childhood to old age. The twists at the end left me speechless. You must read The Jade Lily - you won't be disappointed (and you will want to visit Shanghai). I would rate this higher than 5 stars if I could.

15/06/2018 12:09:41 PM - Sue
This book opened my eyes to a historical event that I was unaware of - a group of Jewish refugees who traveled to Shanghai during the 2nd World War to escape Hitler. A fascinating story, blending two timelines, one Australian woman in the present day, and her grandmother who was one of the refugees. Well written. Much enjoyed. Thank you Dymocks!

13/05/2018 5:32:14 PM - Jaimee
Heart wrenching and vividly real
It has been a long time since I have been so completely lost in a book after just the first few pages. In The Jade Lily, Kirsty Manning tells a compelling tale of the strength of family to overcome almost unfathomable loss during the tumult of World War 2. After her grandfather's death, Alexandra embarks on a journey to discover her own roots through tracing the parth of her Austrian grandparents Romy and Wilhelm, following their flight from Nazi occupied Austria during World War 2. After their arrival in Shanghai they adopted her mother, keeping the details of the adoption from Alexandra. Alexandra's journey is told through both her own voice as she uplifts her life and career to move to Shanghai for a new job, and through the voice of Romy as a teenager during the war. As Alexandra faces her own struggles for a sense of purpose and belonging in the modern capitalist world of commodities and investments, her experiences are juxtaposed with those of her grandmother Romy, as she struggled merely to live through war ravaged home country and later in Japanese occupied Shanghai. The two contrasting stories portray a stark difference in perspective. Yet I felt the brilliance in the narrative meant the struggles that Alexandra faced in her comparatively blessed life were not trivialised. Her reality was poignant and something many modern woman experience. Manning's prose was so vivid I was more than once reduced to tears on my morning commute. I looked at my children with a new sense of wonder and appreciation for the world they love in, after reading through Romy's struggles. So I finished the book realising it wasn't about loss. But about strength of family to overcome loss. Loss of friends, family members, possessions, identity and even loss of a country. With the perfect amount of romance and a never ending undercurrent of hope I was almost compelled through the novel - By far one of the most captivating books I've read recently.

2/08/2018 1:34:28 PM - Corrine
I loved this book. I am well read in historical fiction, particularly when it it is based on the WWII era. I was pleasantly surprised with this book, I thought myself a small expert on this era and it opened my eyes to the war time experience of occupied Shanghai . It warm, vibrant characters, a strong plot with a few twists. Ive read so many similar books that I can guess the ending 100 pages in but not with this one. Wish I could forget it all just so I could read it for the first time again. Highly recommend.

20/04/2018 9:21:53 AM - Renate
Warm and engaging
A warm and engaging book about friendship, war and decisions to be made. It was a wonderfully descriptive book of life in Shanghai and the horrors of the war, and its relevance to now.

22/04/2018 11:11:23 AM - Christine
Exotic, moving and beautifully constructed. I was swept away to another world.
I was fortunate to have received an advanced copy of "The Jade Lily" and cannot more highly recommend it. The beautifully crafted narrative, tells the story of Romy and her family as they flee Austria during WWII. The anguish and fear of the people persecuted under Nazi regime is depicted with clarity and depth. The dual narrative is seamless as Romy's story alternates with her granddaughter, Alexandra —a young woman with a past she needs to reconcile, following the death of her beloved grandfather. The scene setting is magical— the smells and sounds of old Shanghai combine with the bright lights and frenetic lifestyle of current life in a big city. I particularly loved the imagery of glamorous Art Deco buildings and tranquil, yet exotic gardens. The characters are drawn sympathetically and with sincerity, the trauma of war and loss intertwine with feelings of love and concern. If you feel the need to be swept away for hours in another world and another time..." The Jade Lily" is a great choice!

6/05/2018 10:29:28 AM - Elizabeth
Beautifully moving
As we follow Alexandra's quest to find her mother's birth parents, we also follow her (adoptive) grandmother Romy's escape from Austria during WWII to Shanghai and eventually Australia. The story describes the horror of war but also the beauty and love of a country that accepted refugees when no one else would. As we follow Romy's journey we find acceptance, love, heartache and terror beyond our imagining, whereas Alexandra's journey is centered around learning about the place her grandparents lived during the war and her blooming love for a country that she'd never known but was an integral part of her family history.

15/05/2018 8:29:35 PM - Marianne
Enthralling historical fiction.
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 rites observed, Romy urges Alexandra to go back to work. Her job as a commodities trader gives her the opportunity to transfer to Shanghai, and she hopes she can use her free time to track down her mother’s family. Alexandra had already known as a young orphan that her mother, Sophia Shu was Chinese, and had been brought to Australia by Romy. Now, with their grief still raw, is hardly the time to ask her Oma about it, so Alexandra makes her own enquiries. And tries not to get too distracted by Zhang, the charming garden designer sharing her building. Manning tells her story using a split narrative: Romy’s story begins with her family’s escape from Vienna; Alexandra’s narrative is set in 2016. These are supplemented with letters and diary entries. Manning’s characters are multi-faceted and, mostly, appealing, although sometimes their behavior is disappointing or puzzling. Certainly, the most charming character of all is the city of Shanghai itself. Manning’s evocative descriptions will fill the reader’s imagination with the sights, sounds and smells of the place, the food and the people. The depth of Manning’s research is apparent on every page, and she kindly lists some resources for those readers who are bound to want to know more about the Jewish refugees accepted by Shanghai during World War Two, about the Japanese occupation, and about Traditional Chinese Medicine. She captures the era well, and the mystery of Sophia’s origins will keep readers captivated, even if the reason for the secrecy is less than convincing. Enthralling historical fiction. With thanks to Allen&Unwin for this copy to read and review.

11/08/2018 1:56:46 PM - Tanja
Loved this book!
This was the most deliciously amazing read. Well researched, rich, provoking and truly satisfying.


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