The Last Rose of Shanghai: #bookreview

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

-Book Blurb on Amazon

the last rose of shanghai

The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai Randel is mostly set in Shanghai during the 1940s. Some parts of the book are set in the 1980s with Aiyi providing information to a documentarian who is researching the story of Ernest Reismann.

During the 1940s, the Japanese occupy the city and Jewish refugees are seeking a safe haven from the Nazis. Shanghai did not require visas until August 1939.

Ernest Reismann and Aiyi Shao seem like an unlikely couple. Their bond begins with a mutual love of music. The Last Rose of Shanghai is Aiyi’s favorite song. Ernest learns the song so that he can play it for Aiyi.

Aiyi owns a nightclub that has seen better days. Ernest, a talented pianist, begins working at Aiyi’s nightclub in order to make a better life for himself and his sister. Everyone in the city is just doing their best to survive however they can.

Although, Aiyi is an intelligent businesswoman, her older brother and fiance are constantly trying to keep her under their control. She doesn’t want to marry the fiance but it might be her only choice after she loses control of the club. Aiyi wants to run away with Ernest but it’s not that simple. They need finances and a window of opportunity to get away.

Ernest worked at a bakery for awhile after leaving the club. He helps many refugees while working at the bakery by helping them find food or work. I suspect that Ernest was based on Erwin Eisfelder, who operated a cafe in Shanghai that was a popular meeting place for refugees.

Unfortunately, Ernest and Aiyi become separated after the Jewish refugees are kept under guard. Will they ever be reunited? Will they ever find the opportunity to escape?


If you are interested in historical fiction and/or romance set during WWII, then you might enjoy The Last Rose of Shanghai. Nazis won’t like this book but what do they know about good books? In my opinion, not much. Also, Goodreads nominated the book as in the best historical fiction category for 2022.

So give the The Last Rose of Shanghai a chance even if it is just to spite Nazis.


Book Reviews



“Just a small town girl – living in a lonely world.” Concert tickets are practically essential. Musicals are the key to life. I like movies, music,books, and corny jokes.

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