A historical novel set in 1930's Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in--and the truth she may be running from.
Tanabe shows the gaping disparities between the life of leisure and richesse led by the French occupiers, and that of the oppressed Indochinese, who can barely scrape by ... This is a book of secrets, but not of great subtlety. Where the reader could have been left to make inferences, the characters spell out their emotional conditions. The plot moves quickly, often in long passages of expository dialogue ... has a cinematic quality — which may be telling, given that Tanabe’s second novel, The Gilded Years, is being made into a film starring Zendaya. 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.
Shifting focus back and forth between characters, Tanabe reveals secrets in exquisitely paced steps—just when the reader thinks she knows who can be trusted, Tanabe’s tale twists into another back alley, exposing another unexpected skeleton in a closet. With doubt clouding every corner, Tanabe ratchets up the tension as Marcelle seeks political and personal vengeance, and Jessie increasingly cannot tell reality from imagination ... A smart, riveting psychological thriller.