The Jade Lily follows two connected stories – in one it is the late 1930s and Romy is a young Jewish girl who has escaped Austria, fleeing with her family to Shanghai. In the other it is is 2016 and Romy’s granddaughter Alexandra is trying to find out more about her Chinese heritage (Alexandra’s mum was adopted from China by Romy and her husband).
Kirsty spoke so beautifully about the books – her inspiration and her research, and how important it was to her to represent this time and place appropriately. It was so interesting to hear about her discussions with people who had lived the experience she was writing about – living in Shanghai during WW2 – while she worked on the book. I think it is always interesting to hear about the process authors take to make sure a story is told in an appropriate way when they writing something outside of their own experiences. You could tell from the way Kirsty spoke about her research that this had been super important to her, and it seems like she has done a wonderful job. (Check out her website for some info about her inspiration and research for The Jade Lily, including a video where she talks a bit about it)
I really enjoyed the plot (plots) in this books, and the beautiful, descriptive writing made it even better. The sights and smells – good and bad – were described so perfectly in this book, I felt like it really helped transport me to Shanghai and I felt completely immersed in the story. I especially loved the description of food and herbs and traditional medicine throughout – herb lore and the ‘medicine/healer women’ are some of my favourite things in books.
Overall, this was a gorgeous book, and the event was really special. I’m looking forward to reading Kirsty’s other book The Midsummer Garden too!