With little choice in the matter, Dieu Lan has become the resourceful and unwavering matriarch of the Tran family, shepherding her divided clan through the turbulent events of her nation's history - the Japanese Occupation in WWII, the Land Reform and the 'American' War.
Narrating the story of their family's fluctuating fortunes, Dieu Lan and her granddaughter Huong tell of survival and resilience, and the triumph of love and hope over conflict and loss.
Based on the experiences of the author's family, this is an unforgettable novel told in beautiful, lyrical prose, with a unique perspective of twentieth century Vietnam.
This book was well received by the group. Although fictional, it provides a startling and at times, harrowing picture of how a family coped in Vietnam in the 20th century. But it also shows the strength of family bonds. We appreciated the perspectives of a Vietnamese author.
We were all equally very pleased with this book. All agreed that we hadn't known a lot about the Vietnam War and Vietnam in general. It was a real eye-opener and very, very sad. Some were not so happy about it going back and forth in time and constantly switching characters, others loved this aspect.
Learnt lots about the history of the time, the culture, resilience...an eye opener into someone else's world.
Harrowing story, but everyone thought it was worthwhile reading a Vietnamese perspective on the war.
We all thought this book was well written and connected, with excellent depiction of characters and settings. It brought back many memories and demonstrated the perspectives of women and families in war situations.
A very interesting novel covering the complex political history of Vietnam. Fear and terror over generations making us more aware of our privileges in N.Z. Rather confusing read with the unfamiliar names of the many characters and constant time shifts.
We really enjoyed this book. Great to hear about the Vietnam War from the side of the North Vietnamese. Loved the cultural aspects especially the family 'closeness'. All want to read her next book 'Dust Child'.
The novel was an important lens for viewing this country's history, especially the war. It was revealing and horrifying, to view the chain of events through the stories of one family, although the plot did feel contrived, an effort to compress all major events into one narrative. Disturbing that this could, however, have been the actual lived experience of some. Those of us who were familiar with Vietnam and its history were more ready to overlook what others saw as barriers to engagement.
At times a harrowing read but most of us thought the writing was wonderful. Very interesting to read about the Vietnam war from the perspective of the North Vietnamese - mostly we get the other side with a heavy U.S. input!