It's Book Club Friday!
This week I'm reviewing:
A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer
in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn
between the love of two men.
On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll
into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through
the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist,
must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has
come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own
conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out
a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn
years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor,
larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen's infuriating love and
fiercest competitor, and Linh's secret keeper, boss and truest friend.
I randomly stumbled across this on Amazon whilst looking for free Kindle downloads and the name and blurb piqued my interest. It's not an easy read, as the Hannah Swenson books are, and I think I liked it for that reason. It was different. It took my full attention to absorb all the details. We are first introduced to the main characters in 1975 at the fall of Saigon, and then after the intro chapter we are taken back to 1963 where the war has been going on for 8 years and the main characters have just met - the story progresses from that point, developing their relationships over the course of the years amidst the war.
Since this is a book about war, it isn't upbeat and is occasionally descriptive of the dead, so if you're really squeamish, this might not be your kind of novel. It is definitely sad in parts - I'm sure most war stories are - but it was good. I liked it. I liked it for the history of Vietnam and the war, and the relationships that form in spite of such horrors. At the end of the novel, I found myself wanting more, just a little bit more, some closure for the characters. I'm glad I gave this book a chance.