The Song of the Jade Lily
Booklist Reviews 2019 May #2
*Starred Review* Why would she ask for forgiveness? Alexandra is stunned to witness her beloved grandmother, Romy, apparently ask her husband to forgive her as she lay dying. But for what? The question spurs Alexandra into a journey to Shanghai to uncover the secrets of her family's past in this entrancing novel. Manning was inspired to write The Song of the Jade Lily after spotting a Star of David in the city's Hongkou District, learning that the city took in more than 20,000 refugees during WWII. In the novel, that number includes young Romy, whose family flees Austria after one of her brothers is shot in the immediate aftermath of Kristallnacht. They find refuge in Shanghai, able to live in comfort for a time until the realities of war come crashing in. But even amid the fear and privation, there is friendship and romance. Alexandra, a commodities trader reeling from a recent breakup, was raised by Romy and her grandfather, her mother's adoptive parents, after her own parents were killed in a car crash. But her mother's true origins are a mystery, and when Alexandra returns to Shanghai, she learns the full repercussions of Romy's life there during the war. Manning renders Shanghai as a riot of flavors, sights, and sounds, its elegance clashing against gritty poverty in this exquisite window into the past. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.