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Daughters of the River Huong Reviewed By Truong Buu Lam Of Bookpleasures.com
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Truong Buu Lam

Reviewer: Truong Buu Lam: Dr. Lam earned his Doctorate in History from the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium many years ago. He has since taught history of Southeast Asia at several Colleges and Universities in Vietnam and the USA. He has authored a few works on Vietnamese history. He is now retired and the last affiliation was the University of Hawaii.

 
By Truong Buu Lam
Published on June 3, 2011
 

Author: Uyen Nicole Duong

Publisher: Amazon Encore

ISBN: 9781935597315




Click Here To Purchase Daughters of the River Huong

Author: Uyen Nicole Duong

Publisher: Amazon Encore

ISBN: 9781935597315

This is a good book. Although it is not a suspense novel, it is, nevertheless, difficult to put it down once you start to get into it. The author writes well, cleverly structures her narration, intelligently calibrates her discourse, devotes most of her pages to tell the readers about herself, the fourth generation in a family saga which began toward the end of the 19th century, on the Huong or Perfume river of the royal city of Hue, Vietnam.

The plot parallels the history of that country and the events span three continents of Asia, Europe, America. The author knows exactly what she writes about, describes with authority and authenticity where her characters have gone to and what they have lived through. Does it matter whether this book IS or NOT an autobiography, when the narration flows unimpeded, the details abundant, the circumstances sound, the time fitting. There is no blemish of any kind or dimension. Only one venial mistake: why is the king of Annam’s title His Royal Highness and not His Royal Majesty?

The great grand mother who inaugurated the family epic ferried people across the Perfume River for a living. She was fifteen when she was literally abducted by no other than the king of Annam, who did not rule over his kingdom for the French colonialists had made it into a protectorate.

The royal concubine with her twin daughters and a son moved out of the Royal City after the French had exiled her husband-king. This second generation witnessed the Vietnamese anti-French and revolutionary struggle. Two members of that generation joined the resistance. The son disappeared without a trace and this is how the twins’ daughter described her aunt who came home:

I rushed to the courtyard and found her, the shadow of a woman...The shadow turned around and I had to jerk back. I found not the young, vivacious woman in black pajama…but a stooping, limping old woman with dead eyes and a scarred face. Parts of her brows were missing. …I approached her and grabbed her hands. The wrists, too, were full of scars. One little finger was missing...I felt her face. No longer that amber-sugar brown skin. The scar tissue rubbed against my fingers. She smiled. The mouth was crooked…part of her upper lip was missing…Limping on her foot, the old woman ripped off her blouse. ..I saw scar tissue on her breast. The nipples were missing…They have butchered my beautiful sister. They destroyed her mind. (page 140-142)

The fourth generation was no longer fully a daughter of the river Huong. She did grow up in the “French villa on the Nam Giao slope” of Hue, but soon moved to Saigon, Paris where at the age of 15, she lost her innocence with her French guardian, an old friend of her family. Back in Saigon, events caught up with her: five days before the end of the Vietnam war, she entered the Continental Hotel and gave herself to an American reporter in exchange for seats for members of her family, except her grand mother, on the plane carrying them to America.

I do not think I am doing justice to this book in this short summary. The story is much more captivating; the narration uses an overall better polished language and the characters are presented with a great deal more insight and acumen.



Click Here To Purchase Daughters of the River Huong