Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Book Review - A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

Photo Credit - Amazon
**May Contain Spoilers**

In the year 1933, Jessie Lesage is an American woman traveling to Vietnam to start a new life with her and her husband. She and her French husband Victor, who is an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune, is certain that their new life will be full of promise and fortune. While the rest of the world is facing an economic downturn, the Michelins believe Indochine can improve their financial standing.

The Michelin plantations near Saigon have been plagued by scandals but, Jessie believes the plantations are the key to the family's success. She convinces her husband to move to Vietnam to secure their future along with ensuring her secrets in America stay buried in the past.

Jessie has trouble settling in Vietnam but, when she crosses path with the exuberant Marcelle de Fabry, Jessie's life will never be the same. Marcelle descends on Jessie's world like a whirlwind and becomes a guide to Jessie. However, beneath Marcelle's glamorous exterior she is hiding a deep secret. She wants to put the colony back into the hands of the people including, the Michelin plantations.

I was expecting this novel to be so much more but, instead, I found it to be very boring. I couldn't bond for any of the characters. The author paints Victor and Jessie has the heroes and is saving the colony. However, the plantation prosecutes and tortures people who spread the word of Communism. Jessie only gave money to the sister of one of her servants only after much prodding and complaining that the sister shouldn't be in her home. The author tries to weave Jessie's past life as a sad story of poverty and being abandoned but, it feels like she uses that as an excuse for her behavior. Her motivation to move the family to Vietnam was from her need for self-preservation but, she ends up putting her family in the crosshairs of Marcelle. Overall, the novel was interesting in the beginning but, then went all downhill towards the middle of the novel.

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