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.
Tanabe (The Gilded Years) transports readers to the beauty and danger of 1930s Indochina in this stirring, elegant romance. American-born Jessie Lesage leaves Paris with her French husband, Victor, and their daughter, Lucie, in 1933 so that Victor, whose family owns the Michelin tire company, can oversee his family's rubber plantations in Phu Rieng, Cochinchina. Once Jessie arrives in Hanoi, she meets Marcelle de Fabry, the wife of Arnaud de Fabry, a successful Hanoi financier. Marcelle introduces Jessie to the excesses of the colony, inviting Jessie onto a sailboat belonging to her lover, Khoi Nguyen, a silk scion and Communist sympathizer. After Jessie meets Hugh "Red" Redvers, a handsome British man working to expand the railroad in Indochina, Red gives her opium and encourages her to visit the rubber plantations to witness the conditions faced by the workers, which she had yet to see firsthand. As she tries to reconcile love for her husband with her newfound outrage at his industry's abuses, her emotional torment and opium use lead to hallucinations. Tanabe's richly drawn novel is complete with multidimensional characters who gradually reveal their secrets, leading Jessie to discover that her frequent bouts of confusion are not only caused by opium. Fans of historical fiction will be enthralled.
Slow start... great ending
Was very excited to read this book after hearing about it on NPR. This had a slow middle, but the end made it worth it. If you liked this, read The Diplomat’s Daughter.