"I wasn't sure I liked the sound of it. Even my vivid imagination could hardly fathom a place as tight, or dense, or narrow as Shanghai."
It's April 1939 and, with their lives in Berlin and Vienna under threat, Esther and Kitty - two very different women - are forced to make the same brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.
Shanghai, they've heard, Shanghai is a haven - and so they secure passage to the other side of the world. What they find is a city of extremes - wealth, poverty, decadence and disease - and of deep political instability. Kitty has been lured there with promises of luxury, love, marriage - but when her Russian fiance reveals his hand she's left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai's nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her little girl take shelter in a house of widows until the protection of Aaron, Esther's hot-headed former lover, offers new hope of survival.
Then the Japanese military enters the fray and violence mounts. As Kitty's dreams of escape are dashed, and Esther's relationship becomes tainted, the two women are thrown together in the city's most desperate times. Together they must fight for a future for the lives that will follow theirs.
PRAISE FOR THE LIVES BEFORE US:
'The Lives Before Us opens up a captivating new world in a war I thought I knew about, a raucous Casablanca transposed to the East, filled with the intrigues of outcasts and determined survivors.' - ALEX CHRISTOFI, author of Glass
'Juliet Conlin brings wartime Shanghai to vividly to life with a wealth of fascinating detail.' - SARA SHERIDAN, author of The Ice Maiden
'Chronicles the courage and endurance of two women in wartime Shanghai, separated, then reunited, in a dangerous and desperate place. Strongly drawn characters quickly demand attention, and empathy, and their compelling story charts a little known aspect of the Second World War, and of a persecution felt far beyond Europe.' - SARAH MAINE, author of The House Between Tides
Publisher: Black and White Publishing
Number of pages: 400
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm