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Daughters of the River Huong

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  699 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews

Daughters of the River Huong by Vietnam-born, Houston-based writer Uyen Nicole Duong is a richly woven tapestry of family, country, conflict, and redemption. A saga spanning four generations of Vietnamese women, we discover lives inextricably tied to their country’s struggle for independence.

Narrated by the teenaged Simone, a girl who flaunts convention and enters into a f

Kindle Edition, 405 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2004)
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Carolyn Roys
May 01, 2011 Carolyn Roys rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I inter-library loaned this book as I though it sounded fabulous. This is several hours I will never get back. I kept hoping it would get better. The book came all the way from a Wyoming library so I'm sorry for the wasted effort. The writing was scatter-brained but I could have handled that if the story had been as compelling as advertised. I love books with some historical context, especially set in countries that have deep ties to the US. The character that holds the book together is a concub ...more
Tara Chevrestt
I thought this was a beautiful, well told, and engaging read. It's about five women, really, not three. The book opens with a very unhappy modern day Simone.. Why is she unhappy with her marriage? What's the deal with the husband? I immediately sensed a secret there..

The narrative then goes back to Simone's great grandmother in central Vietnam in the days when there was still a king, tho under French occupation. The Mystique Concubine catches the eye of the king when she is a boat paddler with a
Utah Hornbakers
It was difficult to rate this book, as I loved part and totally did not enjoy other parts. It was almost as though the book were written by two different authors.

The sections telling the tale of Simone's ancestors were wonderful to read. Also loved hearing about the changes in the country of Vietnam and getting a taste of what those changes did to the people who lived there.

The love story felt intrusive to the story of the ancestors, and was not enjoyable to read at all IMHO. If you are reading
Jun 11, 2013 Zelda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, shelved
I didn't get very far into this. French poetry, conjugal discord, cancer and mythology based visions is a lot for one chapter. The protagonist was long-suffering by the third page and while I love an e-Reader I do miss the satisfaction of being able to slam a book shut with a hearty, "Get over it, Sweetie!"
This was a story about multiple generations of women in Vietnam, beginning with the Concubine wife to an Annamese King, up to the generation that left Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. I enjoyed the stories of the great-grandmother and grandmother much more than the modern byline. However, as the novel progressed, it became clear that many of the stories related about some of these women were shrouded in mystery or fables. Some of the stories were made up and handed down to cover uncomfortable t ...more
Kayla D
Read Asia Challenge 02

Daughters of the River Huong is the first book that I have read that takes place in Vietnam. I was initially planning on searching for a novel that tackled the Vietnam War as that is one of the most well-known topics on the country, but the plot of Uyen Nicole Duong’s novel suited my mood and I was very much intrigued by how it discussed parts of Vietnam’s history that aren’t that widely known.

The book was told from four different points of view, in varied settings and time
May 22, 2011 Gayle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a child of the 60s & 70s, when I think of Vietnam I think horror, and pain, and body bags. I think of all the beautiful boys that were my friends who went away to war and either came back in one of those caskets draped with the American flag, mothers, fathers, and siblings crying and wondering why, or of those sweet innocent boys who left thinking of Chevy's, and girls, and Saturday night dances, and came home quiet and subdued, sweating and screaming in their sleep, never to return to th ...more
I downloaded this book for free as one of Amazon's daily deals. I visited Vietnam almost two years ago and I would like to know more about the country and the people. I thought a novel written by a Vietnamese-American might tell me something about both.

The story was fine and I am not sorry that I read it. The premise was interesting and the writing good enough to hold my interest. I am not sure that I actually learned any more about the history of Vietnam, but that did not really matter. I fell
Shawn Davis
Fleeing falling Saigon via the last American airlifts of the Vietnam war extracts a significant emotional toll and ripples unrelentingly through life from the moment the decision is made.

So it was for Simone, who chose to save her family from the advance of the Viet Cong by offering herself to and marrying the journalist Christopher Sanders. It is a marriage that is not made in love, but out of necessity. And though Christopher loves Simone very much, she cannot bring herself to love him.

There a
Jan 05, 2016 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading for a glimpse into Vietnamese history. I would have given it 3.5 stars if you could give half stars. What I enjoy most about historical fiction is the chance to imagine and get a sense of what life was like in the culture and during the time period of the character(s). I thought this book did a good job recreating some of the Vietnamese history and painting a picture of the lives of the main women characters. I also enjoyed reading about the different generations of the women and t ...more
Donna LaValley
Mystical, memorable, melancholy, and finally, melodramatic. Starting with the last kingdom of today’sViet Nam (1880), through four generations of women, we see the French taking over, the influence of China, American “help” and the Tet offensive with the Viet Cong. The story ends in the late 1990s with Simone’s return as a corporate attorney from an American firm. This is a totally feminine view, however. If you want historical fiction, look elsewhere. This one is heavier on myth and the fortune ...more
Margaret Harrison
Jan 25, 2014 Margaret Harrison rated it it was amazing
Daughters of the River Huong that spanned multiple generations and embraced the timelessness of a culture that faced loss and tragedy with dignity and grace. it was good to be reminded of the beauty and the rich culture rather than just focus on the ravages of a lingering war. At times it was difficult to separate the generations and characters, hence four stars; however, a worthy read that honored the nostalgia and mystery of a country and people that have persevered. I enjoyed the book and rec ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Catherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I gave it three stars for all the interesting history about Vietnam under the French and during the American intervention, but otherwise I was disappointed with this story of 3 generations of women from one family. The primary narrator, the youngest of the three, was especially unsympathetic. She thinks her fate is bound to the history of her grandmother and great-grandmother. It is not clear, however, whether in telling her own story she is simply noting the parallels or trying to escape them. ...more
Mary Frances
This is an odd book. The author has chosen an episodic structure that travels back and forth thru time. I think that damages the book, leaving the reader frustrated again and again in following the story. Worse, the modern day protagonist is unlikeable- I wanted to feel empathy for her as a troubled young woman facing the horrors of the fall of Saigon, but I never liked her enough to do so. Other characters were mere sketches or, in the case of the Mystique Concubine, a very interesting characte ...more
Sharon Enright
I read this for my May 2016 Book Club. I did not really enjoy it much, although much of it takes place in Hue, a city with fascinating history in central Vietnam. I have visited Hue and the Citadel, so it was interesting to try to imagine that history. The early story of the Mystical Concubine was definitely interesting. The story quickly turns to her great grand daughter, who escapes Vietnam as the Americans are leaving. Much of the story involves this young woman's affection for a Frenchman wh ...more
Jan 19, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a bit of a struggle initially to get into this book - and I even put it aside and read something else - but once I got about a third of the way, I could not put it down. Daughters of the River Huong tells the story of three Vietnamese women, from different generations, connected spiritually and genetically. As the description states, you follow the characters from the early dynasty days, through the Vietnam war, and into the new Vietnam of the '90's. The journey takes the reader also to P ...more
Patty Brandl
Daughters of the River Huong was fascinating from the start, a story of generations of Vietnamese women paralleling the country's turbulent history. Unfortunately, when the story swings back to Simone, who appears to be a thinly veiled character based on the author, the story becomes hard to take. Maybe because Sone is the most beautiful, most talented, bravest woman in existence. I loved the book when it described the lives of her grandmother and great-grandmother (the most beautiful royal conc ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Trang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book greatly. It painted such a romantic picture of Vietnam, so different from the one I grew up in. I was born a decade after the Vietnam war ended and into a very different country. I also didn't pay much attention in history class when I was a child, so to me this book is very intriguing and educating. The author mentioned some folk stories in the book that I barely remember, it invokes nostalgia. But you don't have to be Vietnamese to appreciate this book, you just need to hav ...more
April Martinez
Apr 02, 2015 April Martinez rated it liked it
Daughters of the River Huong by Uyen Nicole Duong

I always finish a book, good or bad! This is a hard book to read, had to force myself to return to it. Maybe it's the cultural differences or just the style of the author, it seemed to jump from character to time line. I found myself lured to one story only to be in the middle of a different story. Of course as an American we all know the tragic end of this story, yet we seem to be searching for the "rest of the story" so to speak. This was a frus
Mary Glass
Mar 25, 2014 Mary Glass rated it really liked it
Four women, four generations, one country

Four women, four generations, one country

Mostly praise, few disappointments and a learning experience. It was a fount of new history information as regards Vietnam for me. Just makes me want to understand more. Compelling first generation heroine. Smart, had to adapt and did. Second generation, convictions and loyalty, but above all family. Third generation, barely sketched in. Weird, considering the character lives for a good long time. For me, the disap
Puck Winqvist
Sep 03, 2012 Puck Winqvist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in preparation for a trip to Vietnam. It added to my experience of what is left of the Royal City near Hue. The descriptions are wonderful, the story an interesting depiction of life in the Citadel, and of the struggle after the emperor was removed. The recent history of Vietnam through the eyes of the descendants of the imperial concubine, whose daughter (now an elderly woman) stays behind in Saigon when the rest of the family flees to the USA.
The tone is somewhat dreamlike, especiall
Jan 15, 2016 Asl4u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read - 1) it is a great story (or stories - because there are several generations being told)... 2) it is subtly Vietnamese... not so foreign that you cannot quite wrap your head around the motivations - but there are definite cultural/expectational differences present 3) it has a really nice wrap around... not an ending I would have wished for (were it my story)... but considering the archetypes - absolutely believable.
Overall - I enjoyed it - and will probably come back
This is a very interesting story about Vietnam as told through the main character Simone, who is in fact the great-granddaughter of the "Mystique Concubine" of the abdicated king/emperor. Very rich in detail and in portraying not only the beauty of the country but it's history as well. This is not a long book to read, although there were parts were I did get a bit confused in the story line. All in all I enjoyed it very much and may consider reading the other two books she has written.
Oct 06, 2014 Nicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was on my reading list for some time and I decided to read it before my trip to Vietnam to get a feel of the place. I really loved this book. It was well written in places. So much description about the history of Vietnam. The only downside was it appeared disjointed in places especially at the beginning of each chapter. It could have been an excellent book if the publisher had edited the book properly .
Jul 13, 2014 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the 1st book of a trilogy, well written, with a lot of interesting history of Vietnam. It is the story of a Vietnamese royal concubine & her descendants starting in the French colonial time to the revolutionary struggle for independence to today's socialist cum capitalist society. The book takes you back and forth from the past to present with Simone the great granddaughter of the royal concubine, as the main character. It takes place between Vietnam, Paris and USA. Worth a read.
Jan 10, 2010 RYCJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dynamic-reads
A beautiful story bejeweled by songs, myths, taboos, and memories imbibed from factual events pivoting around a river spanning four generations. There is the concubine (loved her memoir--absolutely beautiful)... and Dew, one of the twin's daughters' (very touching)... and then Simone's memoir, Dew's child... wrapping up a powerfully moving tribute to the women who collectively make Daughters of the River Huong royal.
Jan 02, 2012 Bianca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because I was traveling through Vietnam and thought it would be a good idea to read something related...
I was looking for more historical content and characters who were engaging, I didn't quite get what I was after...
Only the 24hour train ride from Nha Trang to Hanoi got me through this book, if I had something else to do I'm not sure I would have made it.
I have donated this book to the book exchange at my hotel in Hanoi; I hope the next owner enjoys it more.
Victoria Vivian
I really enjoyed most of this book. I would say it is a combination of historical fiction and fantasy. The main characters were strong women who were not without fault and flaws which is what made them believable. I loved the way the author blended Vietnamese folklore, french poetry, and history into a very readable story.

However I felt that there was a definite natural ending to the book and the author went well pass that.
May 10, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This multi-generational story set in Vietnam was incredibly touching. Each person has their own opportunity to narrate, but most of the story is told by the youngest of a past royal family. While I loved her self-discovery of her past as well as her family's, I was a bit disappointed with some the her personal decisions. But the story flowed well and kept me involved. The descriptions of the Hue River make me incredibly sad that I have not yet visited Vietnam myself.
Feb 05, 2014 Judie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I enjoyed this book, the history of Vietname, what the war did to Vietnam and its people,but the self indulgent love story was the part I liked the least. The intereaction between the vietnamese and French charcters and their worlds is interesting despite the love angle. I recommend the book because it is interesting and the love story is only a small part of the story.
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“I had offered O-Lan money. Just like Comrade Chuyen, she refused my gift. She did not come to see me for money, she said. “Is there anything you want or need, O-Lan?” She hesitated for a while and then spoke, almost too eloquently, as though she had planned the speech. “I have grown children, and many granddaughters. They are all healthy and good. I would be pleased if you could take one of my grandchildren to America. You can just pick one among them. Any particular one you like. A little girl, perhaps?” 0 likes
“I began to read Son La’s handwritten notes, describing the making of a royal concubine—the transformation of the poor paddle girl of the Perfume River into the legendary Mystique Concubine of the Violet City.” 0 likes
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