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An evocative historical novel set in 1930's Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in—and the truth she may be running from. On a humid afternoon in 1933, American Jessie Lesage steps off a boat from Paris and onto the shores of Vietnam. Acco An evocative historical novel set in 1930's Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in—and the truth she may be running from. On a humid afternoon in 1933, American Jessie Lesage steps off a boat from Paris and onto the shores of Vietnam. Accompanying her French husband Victor, an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune, she’s certain that their new life is full of promise, for while the rest of the world is sinking into economic depression, Indochine is gold for the Michelins. Jessie knows that their vast plantations near Saigon are the key to the family’s prosperity, and while they have been marred in scandal, she needs them to succeed for her husband’s sake—and to ensure that her trail of secrets stays hidden in the past. Jessie dives into the glamorous colonial world, where money is king and morals are brushed aside, and meets Marcelle de Fabry, a spellbinding French woman with a moneyed Indochinese lover, the silk tycoon Khoi Nguyen. Descending on Jessie’s world like a hurricane, Marcelle proves to be an exuberant guide to ex-pat life. But hidden beneath her vivacious exterior is a fierce desire to put the colony back in the hands of its people, starting with the Michelin plantations, fueled by a terrible wrong committed against her and Khoi’s loved ones in Paris. Yet it doesn’t take long for the sun-drenched days and champagne-soaked nights to catch up with Jessie. With an increasingly fractured mind, her affection for Indochine falters. And as a fiery political struggle builds around her, Jessie begins to wonder what’s real in a friendship that she suspects may be nothing but a house of cards. Motivated by love, driven by ambition, and seeking self-preservation at all costs, Jessie and Marcelle each toe the line between friend and foe, ethics and excess. Cast against the stylish backdrop of 1930s Indochine, in a time and place defined by contrasts and convictions, A Hundred Suns is historical fiction at its lush, suspenseful best.


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An evocative historical novel set in 1930's Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in—and the truth she may be running from. On a humid afternoon in 1933, American Jessie Lesage steps off a boat from Paris and onto the shores of Vietnam. Acco An evocative historical novel set in 1930's Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in—and the truth she may be running from. On a humid afternoon in 1933, American Jessie Lesage steps off a boat from Paris and onto the shores of Vietnam. Accompanying her French husband Victor, an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune, she’s certain that their new life is full of promise, for while the rest of the world is sinking into economic depression, Indochine is gold for the Michelins. Jessie knows that their vast plantations near Saigon are the key to the family’s prosperity, and while they have been marred in scandal, she needs them to succeed for her husband’s sake—and to ensure that her trail of secrets stays hidden in the past. Jessie dives into the glamorous colonial world, where money is king and morals are brushed aside, and meets Marcelle de Fabry, a spellbinding French woman with a moneyed Indochinese lover, the silk tycoon Khoi Nguyen. Descending on Jessie’s world like a hurricane, Marcelle proves to be an exuberant guide to ex-pat life. But hidden beneath her vivacious exterior is a fierce desire to put the colony back in the hands of its people, starting with the Michelin plantations, fueled by a terrible wrong committed against her and Khoi’s loved ones in Paris. Yet it doesn’t take long for the sun-drenched days and champagne-soaked nights to catch up with Jessie. With an increasingly fractured mind, her affection for Indochine falters. And as a fiery political struggle builds around her, Jessie begins to wonder what’s real in a friendship that she suspects may be nothing but a house of cards. Motivated by love, driven by ambition, and seeking self-preservation at all costs, Jessie and Marcelle each toe the line between friend and foe, ethics and excess. Cast against the stylish backdrop of 1930s Indochine, in a time and place defined by contrasts and convictions, A Hundred Suns is historical fiction at its lush, suspenseful best.

30 review for A Hundred Suns

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Cupidity A Hundred Suns is a probing story of avarice, power, revenge and colonial politics set in French Indochina in the 1930s. Jessie Lesage and her husband, heir to the Michelin business empire, Victor Michelin Lesage, arrive in Vietnam amidst a global recession to manage the Michelin rubber plantations and grow their fortune. Karin Tanabe paints a vivid picture of the French colonial masters living a profuse lifestyle of opium, glamour and sex, while ordinary plantation ‘coolies’, work in dir Cupidity A Hundred Suns is a probing story of avarice, power, revenge and colonial politics set in French Indochina in the 1930s. Jessie Lesage and her husband, heir to the Michelin business empire, Victor Michelin Lesage, arrive in Vietnam amidst a global recession to manage the Michelin rubber plantations and grow their fortune. Karin Tanabe paints a vivid picture of the French colonial masters living a profuse lifestyle of opium, glamour and sex, while ordinary plantation ‘coolies’, work in dire conditions and live in poverty. The ordinary people dream of independence and communism starts to exert an influence as a means of change. “The most important thing, taking precedence over everything else, is that the plantations continue to make money. If we don’t have profit, we can’t even feed our men. The second priority, which is equal and forever linked to the first, is to keep the communist element from rising up.” Jessie knows she has to support her husband, so after a few years, they can return to Paris a success. She does, however, battle mental issues, some held in secret from her past, some new distressing episodes, and a lifestyle of pleasure and gossip makes exposure much more of a reality. Jessie meets another glamourous woman, Marcelle de Fabry, and their delicate relationship progresses on a fine line between friend and foe. Marcelle is married to a French ex-pat, Arnaud, but has a closer relationship with her Indochinese lover, Khoi Nguyen whom she first met years previously in Paris. Marcelle has a quest to return Vietnam to independence and her first target is the Michelin rubber plantation business. With private investigators seeking evidence of wrongdoing, they uncover secrets they didn’t expect. The story is told from the perspectives of Jessie and Marcelle, both are influenced significantly by their past and both struggle with conflicting ambitions and previous obligations. The suspense is built with schemes and secrets being uncovered, although I did feel it unrealistic at times with some plot holes. The female characters provided a good variation in circumstances, although Marcelle did provide a more intriguing background that provided glimpses into the issues facing the region at the time. In a time when Indochina’s indigenous people struggled with colonial rule and geared itself for a war of independence, the story embeds itself in the unrestrained immoral antics surrounding the aristocratic set and personal revenge. I wish the novel could have provided a more compelling thread in terms of the deeper political and social powder keg, which contributed to the outbreak of the Vietnam War twenty years later. I had an expectation starting this historical fiction novel that wasn’t fully realised but I still felt it was a well-written novel with mystery and suspense, and may resonate better with other readers. I would like to thank St Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    3.5 stars In 1933, Jessie Lesage accompanies her husband Victor to Indochine (Vietnam)— a colony under French rule at the time — where he has taken up a post overseeing his famous Michelin family’s rubber plantations. Not long after they arrive, the Lesages meet Marcelle de Fabry and her husband Arnaud, an expatriate French couple who, like themselves, are rich and well-connected. The two women quickly become friends, and with Marcelle showing her the way, Jessie starts to dive more deeply into 3.5 stars In 1933, Jessie Lesage accompanies her husband Victor to Indochine (Vietnam)— a colony under French rule at the time — where he has taken up a post overseeing his famous Michelin family’s rubber plantations. Not long after they arrive, the Lesages meet Marcelle de Fabry and her husband Arnaud, an expatriate French couple who, like themselves, are rich and well-connected. The two women quickly become friends, and with Marcelle showing her the way, Jessie starts to dive more deeply into the glamorous, exotic world of colonial Indochine. When she meets Marcelle’s Indochinese lover, the rich silk tycoon Khoi Nguyen, and becomes more immersed in their world, Jessie begins to realize that there is more to Marcelle than meets the eye. It is also around this time that dark secrets from Jessie’s past start to catch up with her — secrets that threaten to upend the family and lifestyle that she worked so painstakingly to build. Against a backdrop rife with political tension due to colonialism — where the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” runs in line with oppression of the native Indochinese by their Western conquerors — a complex story emerges, with characters often required to toe the ambiguous line between self-preservation and “doing the right thing.” This is a book that I found difficult to rate, as there were things that I liked (mostly the setting and the writing) but also things that didn’t work as well for me. Going into this one initially, when I saw that the story would take place in 1930s Indochine, I was actually looking forward to reading it, as that particular setting isn’t often covered in historical fiction, plus it was a welcome departure from all the WWII-focused historical fiction that I had been reading in recent months. As is usually the case when I read this genre, I was hoping to learn something new about a country and time period that I was only vaguely familiar with. While I can’t say that I didn’t learn anything at all (because I did), I do have to say that this book fell a bit short of expectations for me from a genre perspective. When I read historical fiction, I expect to be transported to the story’s time and place and feel as though I inhabit the same world as the characters – unfortunately, that didn’t happen in this case. Instead, the Indochine setting felt kind of superficial to me, to the point that the main characters could’ve been transplanted to any other foreign Asian territory (not necessarily Indochine) and the story would’ve played out largely the same way. Don’t get me wrong -- the author did incorporate some cultural elements into the story that gave us some insight into the historical setting, but the references were few and far between, as the focus of the story on the glamorous lifestyle of the wealthy elite as well as the “mystery” piece of figuring out Marcelle’s connection with Jessie, both ended up overwhelming the historical aspects of the story. To me, this book felt like it should actually belong more in the thriller / suspense category than historical fiction – I think if it had been marketed as such, my reaction would’ve probably been quite different, as I did like the writing as well as the flow of the story overall, and the plot was intriguing enough to hold my attention from start to finish. If I had to describe this story in one word, the first word that would come to mind is “lush” — whether it’s the descriptions of the characters’ decadent mansions, or their vibrant lifestyles steeped in lavish opulence, or even the surrounding landscape (both in Indochine where majority of the story takes place and also in Paris, where critical events involving several of the characters occur), it’s hard not to see this story under the light of luxury and privilege. The narration of the story alternated between Jessie and Marcelle, which made sense given the direction of the story (especially if we look at the story from a “thriller” perspective), but from a historical and cultural perspective, I feel that this format didn’t work too well. To strengthen the historical context, I feel like the other alternating perspective should’ve been from that of one of the Indochinese characters in the story, such as Trieu (Jessie’s servant) or Lanh (the Lesage family’s chauffeur) for example – I think this would have provided some much-needed balance to the story, though I guess it can also be argued that this would be an entirely different story then, perhaps not the same one that the author was trying to tell. With all that said, I feel that overall, this was technically a good read – well-written and well-plotted for the most part (except for the ending, which I wasn’t tremendously fond of) – but it could have been so much better. I would still recommend this book, just with the caveat not to go in with specific expectations in terms of genre. Received ARC from St. Martin’s Press directly as well as via NetGalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    3.5 stars, rounded down I love to be introduced to a different time and place by historical fiction. But in order for it to enthrall me, I really want to feel I’ve learned something. A Hundred Suns tackles Vietnam in the 1930s. The French rule, but communists are already causing dissent. This book would have done better to have concentrated more on the issues affecting the country and less on the partying lifestyles of the French expats. Jessie Lesage is the wife of a Michelin heir sent to run th 3.5 stars, rounded down I love to be introduced to a different time and place by historical fiction. But in order for it to enthrall me, I really want to feel I’ve learned something. A Hundred Suns tackles Vietnam in the 1930s. The French rule, but communists are already causing dissent. This book would have done better to have concentrated more on the issues affecting the country and less on the partying lifestyles of the French expats. Jessie Lesage is the wife of a Michelin heir sent to run the rubber plantations. She’s a poor American who married well. Upon her arrival in Vietnam, she meets Marcelle de Fabry, the wife of the president of the chamber of commerce. If Jessie is a bit of a naive, Marcelle is the opposite. Vietnam is a typical colony. There are only 30,000 french in the entire country, but they rule what they perceive as a primitive race. They spend an inordinate amount of time drinking and carousing at all hours of the day and night. In fact, I had a hard time imagining anything got done, for good or ill , with all the drink and opium. This book combines historical fiction, psychological thriller and women’s fiction. The book follows Jessie’s loss of innocence concerning the French and in particular, the Michilens. We are also given glimpses into her mental health, as there are more and more frequent hallucinations. I had trouble relating to her, as she never quite felt real. Marcelle was more interesting. Her sections actually give us much more history about the communist unrest although she’s the most unlikely of communists. Tanabe does a decent job giving a sense of the time and place. The ending is way too pat and unbelievable. I hope that the final edition of the book gives an author’s note that describes her research. My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    3.5 stars I've always enjoyed reading historical fiction but one complaint I have is that most writers seem to stick to World War 2. I was so glad to see this author decided to branch out and set this novel in 1930s Indochine (Vietnam). Even though I've had a difficult time concentrating lately with everything going on in the world, this one hooked me early on. My only complaint is I felt like there was so much build up and anticipation and in the end it fell short. American Jessie Lesage is the 3.5 stars I've always enjoyed reading historical fiction but one complaint I have is that most writers seem to stick to World War 2. I was so glad to see this author decided to branch out and set this novel in 1930s Indochine (Vietnam). Even though I've had a difficult time concentrating lately with everything going on in the world, this one hooked me early on. My only complaint is I felt like there was so much build up and anticipation and in the end it fell short. American Jessie Lesage is the mother of a young girl and is married to a French man, Victor, who is one of the heirs to the Michelin fortune. (Yes, the tire people) In 1933, most people are struggling to make ends meet and that is certainly the case for the workers of the Michelin plantations near Saigon. Victor and his family have recently moved to Indochine and he is in charge of making sure those plantations keep bringing in the dough. Jessie soon meets Marcelle de Fabry a married French woman who also has a lover named Khoi Nguyen. While Jessie is drawn to her new friend, she isn't aware that Marcelle has a hidden agenda. The story alternates between the perspectives of Jessie and Marcelle and bit by bit you learn more of their backstories which certainly play a role in their actions. I don't think it's giving anything away to say wealth vs. poverty is a theme explored in the story as well as the political climate during that time period. This is a book that had substance but in my opinion did not reach its full potential. It's not that I didn't enjoy reading it, more I just ultimately didn't feel satisfied by how everything wrapped up in the end. The last quarter or so of the story is the weakest part in my opinion as things start veering into soap opera territory. Even though this wasn't a perfect read I do think it is worth reading if you enjoy historical fiction. One of the best things about this genre is it can provide you an opportunity to learn and broaden your horizons. I appreciate the author's attempt to let me visit a time period and place that I wasn't too familiar with prior to reading. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for sending me an advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Frenemies, Jessie and Marcelle, narrate this tale of 1930’s Indochina. Both have made the similar journey from humble beginnings to lavish living by marrying well. Moving from Parisian student days to ex-pat living as pampered wealthy wives, one married into the Michelin family and the other married the president of the chamber of commerce. Mixed relationships, opium dens, and opulence are juxtaposed with the atrocious treatment of the “coolie” employees on the Michelin rubber plantations. The r Frenemies, Jessie and Marcelle, narrate this tale of 1930’s Indochina. Both have made the similar journey from humble beginnings to lavish living by marrying well. Moving from Parisian student days to ex-pat living as pampered wealthy wives, one married into the Michelin family and the other married the president of the chamber of commerce. Mixed relationships, opium dens, and opulence are juxtaposed with the atrocious treatment of the “coolie” employees on the Michelin rubber plantations. The revenge aspect of the novel seemed to be a bit flimsy in that it was of the “kill the messenger” variety but nonetheless the tale is tense, chic and possesses more than a little mystique.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    A Hundred Suns begins with the mysterious setting of Indochine near Hanoi in 1933. Karin Tanabe creates a detailed panorama of life carved out of the streets which were lined with French architectual mansions. The well-established from France rule the lives of the less fortunate Indochine inhabitants who have existed there for centuries. Jessie Lesage has convinced her husband, Victor, to take on a larger role in the Michelin rubber plantations of Indochine. With their young daughter, Lucie, they A Hundred Suns begins with the mysterious setting of Indochine near Hanoi in 1933. Karin Tanabe creates a detailed panorama of life carved out of the streets which were lined with French architectual mansions. The well-established from France rule the lives of the less fortunate Indochine inhabitants who have existed there for centuries. Jessie Lesage has convinced her husband, Victor, to take on a larger role in the Michelin rubber plantations of Indochine. With their young daughter, Lucie, they leave France to pursue the challenges of maintaining greater wealth and position in a faraway land. Jessie is an American who met Victor in Paris. Victor still remains on the fringes of the Michelin name and must prove his value to the renowned family line. The central character of Jessie is a highly complicated one. We'll receive glimpses of her former life living in rural Virginia and then the tranformation to speaking fluent French and living in Paris. Tanabe pulls back the curtains here and there on hidden secrets that have and will indeed complicate Jessie's life. All is not what it seems. We'll meet Marcelle who is the wife of one of the businessmen. Marcelle leads a life of intrigue, adventure, and boldness. Her story almost seems to overshadow that of Jessie. There will be plenty of non-stop cocktails, opium, and views into darkened bedrooms here. Tanabe develops her storyline around the powerful French influence, the unfair treatment of the plantation workers, and the heavy presence of the Communist foothold in Indochine. I kicked this one up from a 3.5 to 4 stars for its unusual plot and Asian background. I would have liked to have experience more intrigue with the happenings on the plantation than the playground for the rich and famous. The writing is well done, though, and I look forward to more from Karin Tanabe. I won a copy of A Hundred Suns through Goodreads Giveaways for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Karin Tanabe for the opportunity.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Martie Nees Record

    Genre: Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Pub. Date: April 7, 2020 This historical fiction has moments of greatness. The story is set in Indochina during the late 1920s and the early 1930s. If you are a history buff, you will be delighted to know that this reviewer learned much about Indochina, the French Colony in Vietnam. Unlike any schoolbook, Tanabe makes you feel as if you are there with the ‘coolies’ during their long, impossibly hard workday. The anti-colonialis Genre: Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Pub. Date: April 7, 2020 This historical fiction has moments of greatness. The story is set in Indochina during the late 1920s and the early 1930s. If you are a history buff, you will be delighted to know that this reviewer learned much about Indochina, the French Colony in Vietnam. Unlike any schoolbook, Tanabe makes you feel as if you are there with the ‘coolies’ during their long, impossibly hard workday. The anti-colonialist roots of communism are captured in the abject poverty of the Vietnamese and the abundance of wealth and luxurious living conditions of the French who ruled and lived in Indochina. The author gave me the gift of detailed knowledge. Thanks to “Suns,” I finally have a better understanding of how the Martin Sheen character in “Apocalypse Now” could go from fighting in the jungles of Vietnam to having an elaborate dinner there, while being waited on by servants, with a wealthy French family who insist that Vietnam is their home. The tale revolves around an American wife who marries a Frenchman who is a member of the Michelin dynasty. The famous family is a major part of the story. In real life, the Michelin brothers organized two Indochinese rubber plantations in 1925, where they operated until the end of the Vietnam War. The author does a thorough job regarding less known information about the Michelins. Surprisingly, at least for me, the family is painted as part of the wealthy imperialists who cannot understand the pain of the underprivileged. The quality of life for their workers read as horrendous. Since I have always smiled at the image of “The Michelin Man,” I looked for proof of Tanabe’s descriptions. I found them to be true. On just one Michelin-owned plantation, 17,000 deaths were recorded in the 20 years between the two World Wars. “Suns” is written so the reader will sympathize with the communist Vietnamese. The author has the ability to make one question what you learned in school. I will never again read a “Michelin-Star Rated Restaurant Guide” without thinking of how their rubber and money was made. Turns out, the novel is also written as a psychological thriller regarding the American wife. She has a history of mental illness. The author presents this as an “Or does she?” type of situation. I didn’t mind this component of the novel at all. It did not interfere with the history. I actually found it intriguing. My issue is that romance finds its way into the plot. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that this genre is historical fiction as well as women’s fiction, something I do not usually care for. So my disappointment is on me for not carefully looking over the genre before choosing the novel. My only strong criticism is that Tanabe did not have endnotes. True facts make historical fiction feel authentic and give the author credibility. However, this may be due to the fact that I read an Advanced Review Copy and the citations may come once the book is published. Still overall, I enjoyed this novel very much and recommend it. The entire plot revolving around the history of Vietnam during those years is powerfully written. And the thriller part is clever. Plus, if you enjoy women’s fiction this will be a win-win book for you. I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review. Find all my book reviews at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list... https://books6259.wordpress.com/ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/review... https://www.facebook.com/martie.neesr... https://www.instagram.com/martie6947/ https://www.pinterest.com/martienreco...\ https://www.amazon.com/ https://twitter.com/NeesRecord

  8. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    In 1933, Victor Michelin Lesage, his American-born wife Jessie and their young daughter Lucie move from Paris to Hanoi. Victor is to take over the management of the rubber plantations owned by the Michelin family. In Indochine, Jessie tries to adapt to her new surroundings, while escaping secrets from her past. She is taken under the wing of Marcelle, another wealthy French expat. I really enjoyed this book, told in alternating chapters by Jessie and Marcelle. It explored the tensions between th In 1933, Victor Michelin Lesage, his American-born wife Jessie and their young daughter Lucie move from Paris to Hanoi. Victor is to take over the management of the rubber plantations owned by the Michelin family. In Indochine, Jessie tries to adapt to her new surroundings, while escaping secrets from her past. She is taken under the wing of Marcelle, another wealthy French expat. I really enjoyed this book, told in alternating chapters by Jessie and Marcelle. It explored the tensions between the colonialist French (who spent a lot of time drinking alcohol and smoking opium) and the communists who wanted the French to go home or at least to provide better conditions for the workers who lived under intolerable conditions on the plantations. The relationship between Jessie and Marcelle took an unexpected path. They were well-matched in their determination to achieve their goals. I was afraid that this book would be too “women’s fiction” for me (well, look at the cover) but it was more political and hard-edged than that. It was atmospheric, but not as much as I was expecting. I didn’t really get a feel for the sounds, smells or life of the place. The intensity of the conflicts amped up at the end of the book, and I found the ending satisfying. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I wish to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read the ARC for A Hundred Suns in return for an honest review. I regret to say this book was just not for me, but I have noticed that it is very popular with most readers. I do not want my misgivings to deter any prospective readers who I feel will enjoy it. I thought the historical setting during the 1930s in French Indochina was an interesting one. I wasn’t getting much of the atmosphere or a picture of the country, but m I wish to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read the ARC for A Hundred Suns in return for an honest review. I regret to say this book was just not for me, but I have noticed that it is very popular with most readers. I do not want my misgivings to deter any prospective readers who I feel will enjoy it. I thought the historical setting during the 1930s in French Indochina was an interesting one. I wasn’t getting much of the atmosphere or a picture of the country, but more of the exclusive club for the rich and frivolous ex-pats. There was much drinking, drugs, adulterous relationships, descriptions of fashion, deception, plotting and intrigue. The plight and exploitation of the impoverished, overworked, and abused native plantation workers was relegated to the background as was the start of the Communist movement. I didn’t care for the two main female characters, the scheming and duplicity, their affairs or their family life.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    Whatever complaints or criticisms I might have had about this novel are greatly outweighed by the fact that it held my interest. Not an easy feat in this time of unrest and uncertainty. My powers of concentration have taken a nosedive. When I was a youngster I used to read novels about colonial life under the British Raj and suchlike. In my ignorance of history and what colonialism was all about, I thought it would be so exotically glamorous to be one of those colonials sent to a far-flung outpo Whatever complaints or criticisms I might have had about this novel are greatly outweighed by the fact that it held my interest. Not an easy feat in this time of unrest and uncertainty. My powers of concentration have taken a nosedive. When I was a youngster I used to read novels about colonial life under the British Raj and suchlike. In my ignorance of history and what colonialism was all about, I thought it would be so exotically glamorous to be one of those colonials sent to a far-flung outpost, living in a palatial residence, waited on by numerous servants, and soaking up the local culture. When I grew older I learned that such a life was made possible only by subjugating the native people, stripping them of their sovereignty, stealing their natural resources, and then making them work for a pittance in servitude to the invaders. This novel takes place in French Indochine (now Viet Nam) in the 1930s. It contrasts the intrigues and debauchery of the French colonials with the suffering of the native people, specifically those driven by poverty and desperation to work on rubber plantations. Here in the west we think of Communism as the Great Satan, but given the way these people were treated, it's perfectly understandable that they would be drawn to Communism as an alternative. If you decide to read this book, I highly recommend Googling images of the buildings and other places mentioned. Some of them are quite spectacular.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    A Hundred Suns is a novel written for those who love historical fiction, particularly stories set in exotic foreign lands. It probably has the greatest appeal to women readers, but it is a well written story that I found worthwhile. This story is set in French Indochina in the 1930's and the main characters are among the French elite. You get a real sense of the world they lived in, replete with servants and club outings. It was a world of decadence that could not be imagined back in prim and pr A Hundred Suns is a novel written for those who love historical fiction, particularly stories set in exotic foreign lands. It probably has the greatest appeal to women readers, but it is a well written story that I found worthwhile. This story is set in French Indochina in the 1930's and the main characters are among the French elite. You get a real sense of the world they lived in, replete with servants and club outings. It was a world of decadence that could not be imagined back in prim and proper Paris, a world of opium dens, of open affairs, of excesses. Their lives were separate and apart from the great rubber plantations run by the Michelin family where locals worked for near nothing in harsh conditions. The resistance to colonial rule took the form of Communists who were bitterly opposed. This novel focuses on two women in particular who seemingly befriend each other in their world if elitism and decadence. One's a bit of a gold digger with a difficult past, and often seems to not have a firm grasp of reality. The other is a wolf in sheep's clothing, more a radical than an aristocrat. This is their story which leaves no illusions that all is well in Indochina.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan Johnson

    A surprisingly moving novel about the French occupation of Vietnam in the early 1930's, it grabs your attention as it rolls on. Jessie is married to a minor Michelin heir who convinces him to go to Vietnam and oversee the large family rubber plantations as a means to advance his stalled career. Jessie is an American with a very colorful past that has lived in Paris for the past decade. She prefers to keep her past hidden and sees the move as a way to start over. Her husband, Victor, is also eag A surprisingly moving novel about the French occupation of Vietnam in the early 1930's, it grabs your attention as it rolls on. Jessie is married to a minor Michelin heir who convinces him to go to Vietnam and oversee the large family rubber plantations as a means to advance his stalled career. Jessie is an American with a very colorful past that has lived in Paris for the past decade. She prefers to keep her past hidden and sees the move as a way to start over. Her husband, Victor, is also eager for the opportunity. They immediately enter the French emigrant way of life and join their club and make friends. It turns out the French in Vietnam really like to party and indulge in the local product of opium. It's a very new way of life. Unfortunately, life is not as good for the locals. They labor under terrible conditions for low pay. The French are particularly tough on reported Communists. It's amazing how badly ruling classes treat those under them no matter the nationality. Then Jessie and Victor's past come back to haunt them and life turns very dangerous. This has a lovely sense of place and time and is an excellent historical read. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Constantine

    Rating: 3.5/5.0 Genre: Historical American Jessie Lasage moves to Vietnam, then was a French colony called Indochine, along with her French husband Victor Michelin Lasage and their daughter Lucie. Victor takes his family there due to his new position as the supervisor of the family plantations there. Jessie meets locals there and also expatriates. She becomes a friend with some of the new persons she meets including Marcelle who like she is another expat wife, but it turns out she is different and h Rating: 3.5/5.0 Genre: Historical American Jessie Lasage moves to Vietnam, then was a French colony called Indochine, along with her French husband Victor Michelin Lasage and their daughter Lucie. Victor takes his family there due to his new position as the supervisor of the family plantations there. Jessie meets locals there and also expatriates. She becomes a friend with some of the new persons she meets including Marcelle who like she is another expat wife, but it turns out she is different and has a local boyfriend! Gradually Jessie gets to find out the secrets of people surrounding her, secrets about the plantations and along with that her own secrets also come out. Though this is considered historical it felt more like a thriller to me. I feel what it could give me as a reader more descriptive views about that era and Vietnam at that time. Several times while I was reading I was imagining it as a modern-day thriller. Yes, there are parts where it talks about the plantations but still, I feel it lacked to create the proper setting to make my mind live that era with the characters. This was an enjoyable read overall. At times it slowed down for me and other times it was moving a bit faster. There was no consistency with the pace of the story but still, I feel it was a fun book to read. I feel those readers who enjoy historical books with thriller elements would enjoy it most of all, more than the others. I am going with good 3.5 stars out of 5.0 Many thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for providing me a free advanced reading copy in return for this honest and unbiased review. The book is expected to be released: April 7th, 2020

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    This beautifully written story focuses on a variety of compelling characters, all of whom are harboring secrets during the escalation of unrest leading up to the France-Indochina war. This story is extremely compelling, tense and twisty with an ingenious element that includes American Jessie Lesage, a former Parisian socialite with a history of mental illnes, who moves with her husband to Indochina and who’s world is in question, begging the reader to decide what is real versus imagined.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Books featuring Vietnam seem to be popping up everywhere. This is my third in the past month--two historical fiction and one thriller. This new title from Karin Tanabe is set in the 30's at the height of French colonialism. Jessie and Marcelle tell the story of swanky clubs, fancy yachts, opium parties, and the rise of communism on the rubber plantations. The lives of the two women are intertwined in ways we do not understand until much later in the narrative. Through it all, Jessie strives for Books featuring Vietnam seem to be popping up everywhere. This is my third in the past month--two historical fiction and one thriller. This new title from Karin Tanabe is set in the 30's at the height of French colonialism. Jessie and Marcelle tell the story of swanky clubs, fancy yachts, opium parties, and the rise of communism on the rubber plantations. The lives of the two women are intertwined in ways we do not understand until much later in the narrative. Through it all, Jessie strives for a partnership with her husband who is connected to the iconic Michelin family. Marcelle freely cavorts with her Indochine lover while socializing on the arm of her husband who has his share of affairs and works with the government. When Jessie sees the suffering on the rubber plantations first hand, how can she put her family first and still help the workers live better lives? If this setting appeals to you and you like historical fiction, be sure to check out "The Mountains Sing" by Phan Qu Mai Nguyn. Thank you to St. Martins Press for a paperback ARC and to NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    In the 1930's Indochine becomes the new home for a young family, part of the Michelin empire, as we follow their experiences and adjustments whilst slowly becoming aware of a uniquely original plan to destroy them. The story unfolds slowly between two POVs and at the beginning things seem ideal for the loving couple and their beautiful daughter Lucie. This is a story that embraces the complexity of human emotions, life experiences and moral dilemmas. Through some close encounters with disaster a In the 1930's Indochine becomes the new home for a young family, part of the Michelin empire, as we follow their experiences and adjustments whilst slowly becoming aware of a uniquely original plan to destroy them. The story unfolds slowly between two POVs and at the beginning things seem ideal for the loving couple and their beautiful daughter Lucie. This is a story that embraces the complexity of human emotions, life experiences and moral dilemmas. Through some close encounters with disaster as the tension builds and the evil plotting becomes evident a happy ending seems impossible. I cannot spoil it for others, but I was relieved at conclusion. Net Galley Advanced Reader Copy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Milena

    A Hundred Suns is a captivating historical fiction novel with a dash of suspense. It's set in 1930's French colonial Indochine. Jessie Lesage travels to Indochine with her husband Victor, a member of the Michelin family, whose task is to improve the management of the rubber plantations after a series of strikes and workers' deaths. Upon arriving in Indochine, Jessie meets other expatriates and develops a close friendship with an alluring French woman Marcelle. The life of French colonialists is A Hundred Suns is a captivating historical fiction novel with a dash of suspense. It's set in 1930's French colonial Indochine. Jessie Lesage travels to Indochine with her husband Victor, a member of the Michelin family, whose task is to improve the management of the rubber plantations after a series of strikes and workers' deaths. Upon arriving in Indochine, Jessie meets other expatriates and develops a close friendship with an alluring French woman Marcelle. The life of French colonialists is full of opulence, parties, and opium dens, and Jessie embraces it wholeheartedly with the help of Marcelle until she realizes that not everything is perfect in paradise. The trouble is brewing on Michelin plantations because the workers are not happy with brutal working conditions, and the communists are inciting rebellions. Also, Marcelle might have an ulterior motive in cultivating a friendship with Jessie. But Jessie is determined to make a life for herself and her family in Indochine despite all the complications. A Hundred Suns is a well-written and engrossing book that brings to life the colonialist past with all its issues. I highly recommend this book to historical fiction fans. *ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Karin Tanabe brings to life the beautiful lands of Vietnam, but through the lens of unwelcome invaders of the 1920s and ’30s, when the country was called Indochine. The French colonial time period is another sad era these graceful lands and peoples have endured at the hands of foreigners. The Michelin rubber plantations in Indochine are a huge money-making machine for the French, but they’re a form of torture and slow death for the local inhabitants, or as cruelly labeled by the French, “coolies” Karin Tanabe brings to life the beautiful lands of Vietnam, but through the lens of unwelcome invaders of the 1920s and ’30s, when the country was called Indochine. The French colonial time period is another sad era these graceful lands and peoples have endured at the hands of foreigners. The Michelin rubber plantations in Indochine are a huge money-making machine for the French, but they’re a form of torture and slow death for the local inhabitants, or as cruelly labeled by the French, “coolies”, who are treated to be less than human. The book centers on a few of the families who’ve moved to Indochine to enjoy the wealth, spoils and rewards bestowed upon the winning invaders. Tanabe does an exquisitely beautiful job of showing the foreigners’ lack of compassion and total obliviousness to their cruelty as they drink, eat and cavort, flaunting their ostentatious displays of wealth. This book is packed full of richly colorful and deep-running characters; some born rich, some born poor, and most caught in the middle of political tugs of war. How their lives interweave is fascinating, and the plot is believable, heart-wrenching, and finally at times somewhat redeeming. I thoroughly enjoy a good historical fiction novel, especially when it doesn’t gloss over the painful truth. This is truly a sobering and engrossing historical fiction read. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for making it available.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I received a complimentary digital copy of this arc book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. In September of 1933, Jessie and Victor Lesage move from France to live in the French Indochina to hopefully win favor with his successful Michelin family. There have been many riots and political upheaval at the rubber plant which is in desperate need of supervision in south Cochinchina. Jessie was born the oldest of 7 children in a poor farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. Grow I received a complimentary digital copy of this arc book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. In September of 1933, Jessie and Victor Lesage move from France to live in the French Indochina to hopefully win favor with his successful Michelin family. There have been many riots and political upheaval at the rubber plant which is in desperate need of supervision in south Cochinchina. Jessie was born the oldest of 7 children in a poor farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. Growing up in destitution with minimal parental support, Jessie felt obliged to “parent” her younger siblings. Her desperate situation urges her desire to see the world. She is empowered to attend a small teaching college where she lived in a Manhattan boarding house. Her primary focus was saving enough money to travel to Paris while providing support to her siblings in VA. The story becomes more complicated as Jessie and Victor along with their young daughter, Lucie, settle into their new home in a new country. Because they are affluent, they are buffered from the atrocious living conditions of the native residents. Many of these local residents work under oppressive circumstances which drives their ambitions to overthrow the leaders with their communist agenda. Much to Jessie’s awe and comfort, she is befriended immediately by Marcelle de Fabry and her husband Arnaud. Most of the men are busy traveling for work leaving the women to enjoy the luxuries afforded to them. It is during this time that Marcelle seems to quickly engage Jessie into her world of mischief and debauchery. As the story unfolds it draws the reader into the secrets and deceit which both women don’t want revealed. “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.” - Benjamin Franklin So, the whirl world affairs of the rich and poor are entwined in ways for which the reader could never be prepared. The novel speaks to the political environment as relevant to the extents people will go for redemption and change.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lilisa

    A Hundred Suns has all the trimmings of a historical fiction - history, culture, a bit of suspense, and an array of interesting characters all come together in this enjoyable novel. Set in Vietnam during the 1930s, Jessie Lesage arrives in the French colony to begin the next stage of her life as the wife of Victor Michelin Lesage of the famous Michelin family, who has recently moved there to manage the family’s rubber plantations. Set to enjoy her new life with her husband and daughter in a plac A Hundred Suns has all the trimmings of a historical fiction - history, culture, a bit of suspense, and an array of interesting characters all come together in this enjoyable novel. Set in Vietnam during the 1930s, Jessie Lesage arrives in the French colony to begin the next stage of her life as the wife of Victor Michelin Lesage of the famous Michelin family, who has recently moved there to manage the family’s rubber plantations. Set to enjoy her new life with her husband and daughter in a place where no one knows her so her past can be a closed chapter, she eagerly dives into French colonial high-flying society. But someone knows her secret and before long, she is drawn into a web she doesn’t foresee - a tangled web of ambition, political struggle, love, and intrigue that threaten to shatter the careful cocoon that Jessie has created for herself and her family. Steeped in the history and culture of the times, the author does a fine job of portraying the parallel lives of the colonists and local people, the uneasy relationship that existed between both, and the inevitable collision that will engulf them all. This was an enjoyable read - fast-paced, intriguing, and informative - a great combination for a historical fiction! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy

    Thank you NetGalley and St. Martins for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. A Hundred Suns By: Karin Tanabe REVIEW ☆☆☆ I was a bit disappointed with A Hundred Suns because I was expecting something more from this book. Set in Indiochine in an era I know little about, the story was informative, and I appreciate that. The plot just seemed stuck and not interesting to me because I kept thinking about other things. For whatever reason I made no c Thank you NetGalley and St. Martins for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. A Hundred Suns By: Karin Tanabe REVIEW ☆☆☆ I was a bit disappointed with A Hundred Suns because I was expecting something more from this book. Set in Indiochine in an era I know little about, the story was informative, and I appreciate that. The plot just seemed stuck and not interesting to me because I kept thinking about other things. For whatever reason I made no connection and found this an average read. I can take it or leave it. The story is not my style, but that's an issue of personal preference. It will appeal to many readers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘Off to the house of a hundred suns?’ Set in the French Indochinese (South-East Asia) colonial world of the 1930s, this novel combines romance, intrigue and some of the worst colonial excesses of the era. But the colonists won’t continue to have everything their own way. One humid afternoon in 1933, the American-born Jessie Lesage arrives in Hanoi with her husband and daughter. Her husband, Victor, is an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune. Their daughter, Lucie, is young enough to quickly adapt t ‘Off to the house of a hundred suns?’ Set in the French Indochinese (South-East Asia) colonial world of the 1930s, this novel combines romance, intrigue and some of the worst colonial excesses of the era. But the colonists won’t continue to have everything their own way. One humid afternoon in 1933, the American-born Jessie Lesage arrives in Hanoi with her husband and daughter. Her husband, Victor, is an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune. Their daughter, Lucie, is young enough to quickly adapt to life in Indochine. Jessie sees the move to Indochine as a new beginning: a world away from some secrets she’d rather keep in the past and an opportunity to increase family prosperity while the rest of the world sinks into depression. The Michelin family have large rubber plantations near Saigon: wealth should be guaranteed, provided the family can weather a recent scandal. Jessie makes friends with the fascinating Marcelle de Fabry, a French woman with a wealthy Indochinese lover. Marcelle quickly introduces Jessie to the frenetic, privileged life of the French ex-patriates. But Marcelle has a secret motivation, and Jessie is vulnerable. While I know some of the colonial history of what is now Vietnam, this is the first novel I’ve read set in the colonial world of French Indochine. I found the contrast between excess and exploitation absorbing. I confess that I found the setting more interesting than most of the characters, but I was intrigued by both Jessie’s journey and Marcelle’s motivation. Recommended reading. Note: My thanks to NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lorilin

    In the 1930s, Canadian-American Jessie Lesage has recently arrived in French-colonized Vietnam, to help her French husband, Victor Michelin Lesage, run the Michelin company’s rubber plantations. She’s never felt totally at home among the glamorous French, but she puts on a brave face while she’s in Vietnam. When she meets the uber-gorgeous and worldly Marcelle de Fabry, the wife of the president of the chamber of commerce, Jessie feels an immediate connection—though she also still feels intimida In the 1930s, Canadian-American Jessie Lesage has recently arrived in French-colonized Vietnam, to help her French husband, Victor Michelin Lesage, run the Michelin company’s rubber plantations. She’s never felt totally at home among the glamorous French, but she puts on a brave face while she’s in Vietnam. When she meets the uber-gorgeous and worldly Marcelle de Fabry, the wife of the president of the chamber of commerce, Jessie feels an immediate connection—though she also still feels intimidated. What follows is Jessie’s free fall into an over-the-top world of drugs, sex, and politics as she tries to navigate the complicated role of privileged wife in a poor foreign country. This book is a mix of historical fiction and psychological thriller. Author Karin Tanabe does a phenomenal job of recreating the atmosphere of colonized Vietnam in the 30s—in fact, I would say that the setting is the strongest part of this book. Truthfully, I never felt particularly invested in Jessie, her family, or even Marcelle, but I did enjoy how Tanabe built up the mystery of Jessie’s weird little world and then slowly revealed and explained her secrets over time. A Hundred Suns is a bit of a slow burn for me, but I think it will be popular among book clubs. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the ARC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Interesting historical fiction set in Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Myanmar now) during the 30’s. I enjoyed the history - an area I knew little about - and the background on the Michelin tire company. The characters were complex and not incredibly likable. I found the middle a bit slow and the ending rather too perfect. I received this book as a free giveaway in exchange for my honest review. Worth reading! 3.5 stars

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5, but not rounding up. This book was not at all what I expected. Sort of historical fiction, but more evocative of a time and place--which I love. 1930s Vietnam [Indochine]. Jessie Lange, a dirt poor girl from West Virginia, lands her husband, Victor, a Michelin heir, in Paris. She maneuvers a move from Paris to Indochine where they enter the colonial lifestyle and... Marcelle de Fabry, a married Parisian woman, also of humble I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5, but not rounding up. This book was not at all what I expected. Sort of historical fiction, but more evocative of a time and place--which I love. 1930s Vietnam [Indochine]. Jessie Lange, a dirt poor girl from West Virginia, lands her husband, Victor, a Michelin heir, in Paris. She maneuvers a move from Paris to Indochine where they enter the colonial lifestyle and... Marcelle de Fabry, a married Parisian woman, also of humble origins, has an extremely rich Vietnamese lover, Khoi Nguyen. She befriends Jessie immediately upon her arrival and the wheels are set in motion for a plot/chapters that go back and forth between their voices. This book has a little bit of everything. Colonialism. Excess drinking. Opium. Mixed-race relationships. Deviance and deceptions. Communist threat. Class divides. Rubber plantations. Bribery and corruption [lots of it]. Mental illness. Secrets. Almost too much--I felt it detracted from what could have been a stronger book. There's lot of backstory--in fits and starts. And much of it quite interesting. A fast-paced read [in fact, I couldn't wait to continue reading to see what happens] that devolves into a mystery. And it was this disconnect that bothered me. In the end, it was too much of a mish mash--historical fiction took a back seat and it became more of a mystery/thriller. The writing was fine though nothing particularly memorable. The main characters were well developed. And, the ending [no spoiler alert] just too neat and tidy for all that preceded. I'm in the minority, but... I recommend as a fast, interesting read but it left me wanting more.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Buchta

    This book was another win by Karin Tanabe. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy her previous works, but this story was a real page turner. Set in Vietnam (Indochina) during the early 1930s, we follow Jessie and Marcella as they navigate the Michelin rubber plantations and Communist uprisings of the French colonial time period. I thought this story was fast-paced and the plot was fantastic. I highly recommend!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    A HUNDRED SUNS This was very good. Intriguing story about Jessie and Victor Lesage, a married couple of the Michelin family fame, and their experiences in Indochina in the 1930s. Moving from France to oversee the production process in the rubber plantations, intrigue and hidden pasts begin to surface in mysterious ways. As elite members of French society in colonialist Indochina, the Lesages develop a friendship at the Officer’s Club with Arnaud de Fabrey, the president of the chamber of commerc A HUNDRED SUNS This was very good. Intriguing story about Jessie and Victor Lesage, a married couple of the Michelin family fame, and their experiences in Indochina in the 1930s. Moving from France to oversee the production process in the rubber plantations, intrigue and hidden pasts begin to surface in mysterious ways. As elite members of French society in colonialist Indochina, the Lesages develop a friendship at the Officer’s Club with Arnaud de Fabrey, the president of the chamber of commerce, and his wife Marcelle. The two wives bond quickly and spend a good deal of time enjoying the benefits of their freedom and wealth. As secrets from their pasts are revealed, things don’t go as smoothly as they had at first anticipated. Although this book is foremost a good mystery, a lot of important issues are also introduced, such as French colonialism in Indochina, labor practices, communist uprisings, and the value of family loyalty. It also focuses on two very strong women who are intent upon improving their personal lives and as well as the lives of others. I thought this book also did a particularly good job of presenting many different viewpoints without completely glamorizing or vilifying any perspective. And it keeps you guessing... I would like to thank NetGalley, Karin Tanabe, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

    My favourite of Karin Tanabe's books yet--she does a wonderful job of recreating the glamour of 1930s Indochine in this captivating thriller. She puts a much-appreciated twist on the typical unreliable narrator figure with Jessie. I couldn't put it down!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Rating: 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars Karin Tanabe’s “A Hundred Suns” did not quite fulfill my expectations. Set in 1930’s Indochine (present-day Vietnam) the book introduces us to Jessie and her French husband Victor Michelin Lesage. They are moving from Paris so that Victor can climb another rung on his family’s business ladder. American Jessie comes with her own set of secrets that she is trying to run from and bury. The dissolute ex-pat society that she finds in Indochine exacerbates her Rating: 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars Karin Tanabe’s “A Hundred Suns” did not quite fulfill my expectations. Set in 1930’s Indochine (present-day Vietnam) the book introduces us to Jessie and her French husband Victor Michelin Lesage. They are moving from Paris so that Victor can climb another rung on his family’s business ladder. American Jessie comes with her own set of secrets that she is trying to run from and bury. The dissolute ex-pat society that she finds in Indochine exacerbates her fragile mental state. There are rumblings of rebellion fueled in part by Jessie’s new friend Marcelle de Fabry. Marcelle is part of the ex-pat community, but she also has a local lover and her own reasons to want to overthrow the French regime in Vietnam. The setting is steamy. The ex-pat society pinballs from excessive drinking to opium use. The ex-pats treat the Vietnamese horribly. I am glad I wasn’t actually plunked down in the middle of this setting. Historical fiction and women’s fiction are this book’s advertised genres. However, there is also a strong element of a psychological thriller embedded in the story. Will Jessie crack in this foreign environment? What secrets might she let slip? Will they have the power to destroy her and her family? For me, the book was too muddled. I appreciated the story arc that the author was trying build. However, I thought that arc was too broad. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the focus went deeper on the historical fiction aspect, and less on the psychological thriller aspect. I did learn new things about Vietnam in the 1930’s, which enhanced the book’s experience for me. ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, St Martin’s Press; and the author, Karin Tanabe, for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Victor Lesage, his wife Jessie, and their daughter Lucie, seek to navigate French Indochine [Viet Nam] as the Communists are making inroads. Victor is part of the Michelin family [yes, Michelin rubber] which has vast plantations which "employ" thousands of workers [coolies]. While Victor and his family live in luxurious conditions, the workers' lives are filled with poverty, not enough to eat or drink, and generally abysmal living conditions. Against this backdrop, we see Jessie has found a frie Victor Lesage, his wife Jessie, and their daughter Lucie, seek to navigate French Indochine [Viet Nam] as the Communists are making inroads. Victor is part of the Michelin family [yes, Michelin rubber] which has vast plantations which "employ" thousands of workers [coolies]. While Victor and his family live in luxurious conditions, the workers' lives are filled with poverty, not enough to eat or drink, and generally abysmal living conditions. Against this backdrop, we see Jessie has found a friend, Marcelle, and they swim, drink, eat, drink and party. The longer she is in country, the less confident Jessie becomes - convinced that her tumultuous past will not leave her alone. You will sympathize with the workers, you will begin to understand how Communism might be appealing, and you will see just how treacherous and selfish some people can be. A great storyline with a remarkable ending which shows that true friends can be right under your nose. I read this EARC courtesy of St. Martin's Press and Net Galley. pub date 04/07/20

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