The Jade Lily
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 a short time together, her grandparents begin to reveal a history they have kept secret for more than half a century - their lives in the Shanghai Ghetto during World War II. Alexandra yearns to know the truth about her adoptive Chinese mother, but her grandmother insists some secrets should be buried with the dead.
In 1939, two young girls meet in Shanghai, the 'Paris of the East': beautiful local Li and Viennese refugee Romy form a fierce friendship. Li and her family introduce Romy to the world of Chinese medicine and the greater questions of loyalty and love for one’s traditions. As they grow up together, the deepening shadows of World War II fall over them. In the vivid contrasting settings of the city’s glamorous French Concession and the desperate Shanghai Ghetto, Li and Romy are forced separate ways. And when handsome baker, Wilhelm, meets both young women, Romy must choose between duty, friendship and love.
In the present, Alexandra lands in Shanghai determined to leave her chaotic past behind. As she traces her grandparents’ footsteps, landscape architect Zhang Wei comes into her life. Together they explore the vibrant city's nightclubs, noodle bars and wet markets, and the historic gardens where Alex begins to understand at last the Chinese principles of order and duty, simplicity and restraint. As she searches for her mother’s origins, she begins to uncover the city’s history and to question everything she knows about her family – and herself.
A compelling and gorgeously told tale of female friendship, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage to shape us all.
Kate Cooper manages the translation rights for The Jade Lily
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The audio rights are handled by Clare Forster.
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A charming novel, its narrative across characters and time is deft and often very moving. I thoroughly enjoyed it and shall look for other works by this author.
Kirsty Manning has woven, blended, sewn the threads of history, family secrets, the past and the present into a page-turning, beautiful novel.
Detailed and evocative, a beautiful multi-layered story of friendship and love, family and loyalty. The smells, sounds and tastes of wartime Shanghai are richly re-imagined but it’s the courage of the young women - past and present — which makes the book unforgettable.
International bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives and The Mother-in-Law.
'Manning renders Shanghai as a riot of flavors, sights, and sounds,its elegance clashing against gritty poverty in this exquisite window into the past.'
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