Fifties Hanoi in Vietnam is experiencing troubling times with conflict between the French and the Vietminh. Nicole is half French and half Vietnamese so where should her loyalties lie?
Let down (she feels) by both her father a rich silk merchant and her sister, Nicole is torn between Mark who appears to be in cahoots with her father and Tran a Vietnamese local boy with fire in his belly who does not want to sit back and watch the French destroy his city.
Set in the beautiful Old Quarter of Hanoi this story picks up the intense heat and the humidity of south east Asia. I could not put this book down.
I love Vietnam and in particular Hanoi and Dinah has certainly brought back memories for me of this enchanting city and its beautiful and kind people. Much is the same today as it was in the fifties and indeed a hundred years prior to that. Go walk the streets of Hanoi and see the young girls struggling with heavy yokes and selling their wares, see their brightly coloured silk trousers and find a shop just like that of Nicole’s.
Nicole is torn between both her Vietnamese and European roots, torn between two men, and torn between two sets of beliefs and ideologies. She takes risks, leaves her comfortable home behind and follows Tran in his bid to fight back in all that he believes. Alone and pregnant she knows she is vulnerable and unlikely to be welcomed back by her family….who should she turn to?
I also enjoyed Dinah’s notes about her research and how she goes about starting a new novel. Like her I much preferred Hanoi to Hoi An. but each city has its own unique qualities for the visitor. From Dinah’s book I learned much about Vietnam’s history and how those proud gentle folk suffered at the mercy of other nations.
I was very sorry to finish the book….