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In "A Hundred Suns," an impoverished young American schoolteacher in Paris, meets and marries a Michelin heir, and convinces him to take a job overseeing the company's rubber plantations in French Indochina. Reminiscent of du Maurier's "Rebecca," most of this novel is set in the northern Tonkin "protectorate" in 1933. It's an atmospheric look at the French colonies that would become modern Vietnam, both a story and a true history of decadence and cruelty, secrets and moral compromises. A rarely explored period, it adds to the reader's understanding of Vietnamese attitudes towards Western interference. For another interesting parallel view of 1930s Western attitudes to Asians, check out the 1932 film "Red Dust," (Clark Gable! Jean Harlow! Mary Astor!): the first few incredibly racist minutes, open a storyline also set in an Indochinese rubber plantation.— From Carla's Picks
Named A Best Book of Spring 2020 by Real Simple · Parade · PopSugar · New York Post · Entertainment Weekly · Betches · CrimeReads · BookBub
"A transporting historical novel, and a smart thriller."— Washington Post
"A luscious setting combined with a sinister, sizzling plot." -EW
A faraway land.
A family’s dynasty.
A trail of secrets that could shatter their glamorous lifestyle.
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 the vast plantations near Saigon are the key to the family’s prosperity, and though they have recently been marred in scandal, she needs them to succeed for her husband’s sake—and to ensure that the life she left behind in America stays buried 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 expat with a wealthy Indochinese lover, the silk tycoon Khoi Nguyen. Descending on Jessie’s world like a hurricane, Marcelle proves to be an exuberant guide to colonial 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.
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 1920s Paris and 1930s Indochine, in a time and place defined by contrasts and convictions, Karin Tanabe's A Hundred Suns is historical fiction at its lush, suspenseful best.
Praise for Karin Tanabe:
"Tanabe is a master of historical fiction." ––NPR
"Riveting...Tanabe pulls the reader in from page one, painting a lush, vibrant paradise with a dark side, and taking us along on a fast-paced, exquisitely layered, beautifully detailed ride to the end." ––Kristin Harmel, international bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amelie and The Winemaker's Wife
"A Hundred Suns has a cinematic quality...This view of French occupation in Indochina is replete with love affairs, revenge and secrets, not to mention a history lesson about the evils of colonialism.” -- Washington Post
"A luscious setting combined with a sinister, sizzling plot." -- EW
"Tanabe reveals secrets in exquisitely paced steps...A smart, riveting psychological thriller."-- Kirkus
"An impeccably researched historical novel that immerses readers completely in a beautiful and haunting place" --PopSugar
"Richly drawn...Tanabe transports readers to the beauty and danger of 1930s Indochina in this stirring, elegant romance...complete with multidimensional characters who gradually reveal their secrets. Fans of historical fiction will be enthralled."– Publishers Weekly
"Stylish, with a dash of noir and heaps of the exotic and elegant setting, A Hundred Suns flips the script of bored society ladies into something altogether more devious and delicious." – Booklist
“This psychological thriller is as twisty and darkly detailed as they come...Tanabe’s attention to historical detail and expert pacing of revelation make this a must-read.” — BookBub
"A lush and glamorous tale of intrigue and romance in 1930's Indochine." ––CrimeReads
"Riveting" ––Historical Novel Society
"This is beautifully written, historical fiction that includes some romance as well as a mystery/thriller twist — a trifecta."-- Columbus Magazine
"A haunting, evocative tale that left me both richly satisfied and deeply unsettled – yet another Tanabe triumph. Captivating, suspenseful, and full of surprises." —Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece
"A Hundred Suns manages the near impossible: it's both a gripping, relevant page turner, and a searing historical examination--in this case, of the brutal atrocities of colonialism. You'll read, as I did, to find out who will win the game of cat and mouse, even as you come to understand that in Indochine in the 1930's--as it is anywhere that one group of people enslaves another--there was no 'winning.' " - Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet and June