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A HUNDRED SUNS
St. Martin’s Press
April 7, 2020
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 for the ARC!