Book Review | Daughters of the River Huong
Title: Daughters of the River Huong
Author: Uyen Nicole Duong
This is an absolutely riveting book. It tells the story of Simone, a young Vietnamese woman who must face her past and honor her ancestors. Through the telling of the story of her great-grandmother, Huyen Phi, who became the Mystique Concubine, one of the brides of the Vietnamese king. A puppet of the French, he eventually is exiled, taking only two of his wives with him and leaving Huyen Phi behind with her twin daughters and pregnant with their son.
One of the twins, Cinnamon (the other is named Ginseng), is the grandmother of Simone, always teaching about their family’s legacy and preserving the artifacts of a forgotten empire. Simone is thought by the family to be the reincarnation of the Mystique Concubine and is raised to hold the hopes of the family. When the war is coming to a close it is Simone who succeeds in securing her family’s passage out of Vietnam.
It is also the story of Andre Foucoult, the grandson of the man who oversaw the exiling of the king. He is trying desperately to redeem his family’s name to the children of the Mystique Concubine. He falls in love with Simone and eventually must turn away from her to marry a proper French wife. A revealing look into the lives and traditions of Indochina, I highly recommend this book. Uyen Nicole Duong writes from personal experience, meticulous research and, in my opinion, a deep emotional connection to the history of Vietnam. Both a historical novel and a romance, I give this two thumbs way up!
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*