The Last Rose of Shanghai – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★✰✰  (3.5 / 5 stars)

When Aiyi Shao meets Ernest Reismann in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, she sees a business opportunity. He can play jazz, and is a perfect addition to her night club. What she didn’t expect was to fall in love him. Drawn together in a story of forbidden love, war, and different cultures, Aiyi and Ernest must choose their path…whether together or seperate.

In a heartbreaking story that takes a different approach to World War II, we see the Jewish Refugees of Shanghai as well as the Japanese Occupation there, two things often not approached in literature. Wrapped in a beautiful story, it will captivate audiences (and I believe, would make a great book-to-movie adaptation).

As beautiful as this story was, and as much as I should have loved it, I was left a bit underwhelmed. While I loved learning about Aiyi and Ernest’s plight, and I should have been drawn into the story (I went in convinced, actually, that this would be a 5-star read)…something was missing. I didn’t care about their romance, and the ending…it felt off somehow. The emotion wasn’t there. I think, in all honesty, it came down to the writing style for me. It didn’t resonate with me, and that is a personal opinion. While I did cry after what happened to Ernest’s sister, Miriam, and I was happy to see what occurred in the end of the story (which actually took me off guard), a lot of the time I was left pushing through to the next chapter. I do give this book 3.5/5 stars though because of the beauty in this story though, as well as telling a different part of WWII history that not everyone is familiar. Perhaps if it was written differently, I might have fallen in love the same way Ernest and Aiyi did.

Again, that is just personal taste.

I do think overall it is a lovely story though. As I mentioned above, it would be perfect for a book-to-screen adaptation, as I think screen could convey some of the emotion that I was missing in the writing style.

I still do recommend this book though for lovers of historical fiction and romance. I don’t regret reading it, even if wasn’t quite what I expected.

What’s it about?

In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, two people from different cultures are drawn together by fate and the freedom of music…


1940. Aiyi Shao is a young heiress and the owner of a formerly popular and glamorous Shanghai nightclub. Ernest Reismann is a penniless Jewish refugee driven out of Germany, an outsider searching for shelter in a city wary of strangers. He loses nearly all hope until he crosses paths with Aiyi. When she hires Ernest to play piano at her club, her defiance of custom causes a sensation. His instant fame makes Aiyi’s club once again the hottest spot in Shanghai. Soon they realize they share more than a passion for jazz—but their differences seem insurmountable, and Aiyi is engaged to another man.


As the war escalates, Aiyi and Ernest find themselves torn apart, and their choices between love and survival grow more desperate. In the face of overwhelming odds, a chain of events is set in motion that will change both their lives forever.


From the electrifying jazz clubs to the impoverished streets of a city under siege, The Last Rose of Shanghai is a timeless, sweeping story of love and redemption. ading to the risk of exposing a secret he’s been desperately trying to bury? Meet Patrick, a man who seems to have it all, yet faces the frightening possibility of throwing it away because of his own hubris and ignorance. How far will he go to protect his identity and keep his secret hidden?

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