Thursday, 30 September 2010

Historical Fiction

Finished September 28
In the Fabled East by Adam Lewis Schroeder
This is the second novel by this author, and it follows two main characters from France into Indo-China. Pierre Lazarie goes to Saigon in 1936, fresh from a degree at the Sorbonne. He has a fascination for the East and thinks this will be good to explore as he awaits an opportunity to teach at the Sorbonne. However, his plans take an abrupt turn when Captain Emanuel Tremier asks for assistance in tracking down his mother Adelie who left France for Saigon in 1909 and never returned. Pierre is drawn to her image and eagerly follows the trail, traveling up the Mekong with his fellow bureaucrat Henri Le Dallic.
The other story is Adelie's herself. She is in the late stages of tuberculosis and desperate to get well to keep her young son Manu out of the military and immersed in his artistic world. She latches onto a fable heard of a secret spring in the Laotian jungle that offers a promise of immortality. We see her desperation and her travels into the jungle.
We also see incidents from a later time period, 1954, where Emanuel himself leads a team through the jungle in the last days of a later war.
Mystery, magic, fable, and dreams wind their way through this story in a way that is unexpected and yet flows naturally. A haunting story and a very engaging one.

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