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A Hundred Suns

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,283 ratings  ·  351 reviews
An evocative 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.

On a humid afternoon in 1933, American Jessie Lesage steps off a boat from Paris and onto the shores of Vietnam. Acco
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by St. Martin's Press
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Karin The Lover by Marguerite Duras is a wonderful book. It's set in 1929 in Indochine. …moreThe Lover by Marguerite Duras is a wonderful book. It's set in 1929 in Indochine. (less)
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A Hundred Suns is a probing story of avarice, power, revenge and colonial politics set in French Indochina in the 1930s. Jessie Lesage and her husband, heir to the Michelin business empire, Victor Michelin Lesage, arrive in Vietnam amidst a global recession to manage the Michelin rubber plantations and grow their fortune.

Karin Tanabe paints a vivid picture of the French colonial masters living a profuse lifestyle of opium, glamour and sex, while ordinary plantation ‘coolies’, work in dir
Mar 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars, rounded down
I love to be introduced to a different time and place by historical fiction. But in order for it to enthrall me, I really want to feel I’ve learned something. A Hundred Suns tackles Vietnam in the 1930s. The French rule, but communists are already causing dissent. This book would have done better to have concentrated more on the issues affecting the country and less on the partying lifestyles of the French expats.
Jessie Lesage is the wife of a Michelin heir sent to run th
3.5 stars

In 1933, Jessie Lesage accompanies her husband Victor to Indochine (Vietnam)— a colony under French rule at the time — where he has taken up a post overseeing his famous Michelin family’s rubber plantations. Not long after they arrive, the Lesages meet Marcelle de Fabry and her husband Arnaud, an expatriate French couple who, like themselves, are rich and well-connected. The two women quickly become friends, and with Marcelle showing her the way, Jessie starts to dive more deeply into
Katie B
3.5 stars

I've always enjoyed reading historical fiction but one complaint I have is that most writers seem to stick to World War 2. I was so glad to see this author decided to branch out and set this novel in 1930s Indochine (Vietnam). Even though I've had a difficult time concentrating lately with everything going on in the world, this one hooked me early on. My only complaint is I felt like there was so much build up and anticipation and in the end it fell short.

American Jessie Lesage is the
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frenemies, Jessie and Marcelle, narrate this tale of 1930’s Indochina. Both have made the similar journey from humble beginnings to lavish living by marrying well. Moving from Parisian student days to ex-pat living as pampered wealthy wives, one married into the Michelin family and the other married the president of the chamber of commerce. Mixed relationships, opium dens, and opulence are juxtaposed with the atrocious treatment of the “coolie” employees on the Michelin rubber plantations. The r ...more
A Hundred Suns begins with the mysterious setting of Indochine near Hanoi in 1933. Karin Tanabe creates a detailed panorama of life carved out of the streets which were lined with French architectual mansions. The well-established from France rule the lives of the less fortunate Indochine inhabitants who have existed there for centuries.

Jessie Lesage has convinced her husband, Victor, to take on a larger role in the Michelin rubber plantations of Indochine. With their young daughter, Lucie, they
Martie Nees Record
Genre: Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: April 7, 2020

This historical fiction has moments of greatness. The story is set in Indochina during the late 1920s and the early 1930s. If you are a history buff, you will be delighted to know that this reviewer learned much about Indochina, the French Colony in Vietnam. Unlike any schoolbook, Tanabe makes you feel as if you are there with the ‘coolies’ during their long, impossibly hard workday. The anti-colonialis
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1933, Victor Michelin Lesage, his American-born wife Jessie and their young daughter Lucie move from Paris to Hanoi. Victor is to take over the management of the rubber plantations owned by the Michelin family. In Indochine, Jessie tries to adapt to her new surroundings, while escaping secrets from her past. She is taken under the wing of Marcelle, another wealthy French expat.

I really enjoyed this book, told in alternating chapters by Jessie and Marcelle. It explored the tensions between th
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I wish to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read the ARC for A Hundred Suns in return for an honest review. I regret to say this book was just not for me, but I have noticed that it is very popular with most readers. I do not want my misgivings to deter any prospective readers who I feel will enjoy it.

I thought the historical setting during the 1930s in French Indochina was an interesting one. I wasn’t getting much of the atmosphere or a picture of the country, but m
Jeanette (Again)
Whatever complaints or criticisms I might have had about this novel are greatly outweighed by the fact that it held my interest. Not an easy feat in this time of unrest and uncertainty. My powers of concentration have taken a nosedive.

When I was a youngster I used to read novels about colonial life under the British Raj and suchlike. In my ignorance of history and what colonialism was all about, I thought it would be so exotically glamorous to be one of those colonials sent to a far-flung outpo
A Hundred Suns is a novel written for those who love historical fiction, particularly stories set in exotic foreign lands. It probably has the greatest appeal to women readers, but it is a well written story that I found worthwhile. This story is set in French Indochina in the 1930's and the main characters are among the French elite. You get a real sense of the world they lived in, replete with servants and club outings. It was a world of decadence that could not be imagined back in prim and pr ...more

Rating: 3.5/5.0


American Jessie Lasage moves to Vietnam, then was a French colony called Indochine, along with her French husband Victor Michelin Lasage and their daughter Lucie. Victor takes his family there due to his new position as the supervisor of the family plantations there.

Jessie meets locals there and also expatriates. She becomes a friend with some of the new persons she meets including Marcelle who like she is another expat wife, but it turns out she is different and h
Susan Johnson
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
A surprisingly moving novel about the French occupation of Vietnam in the early 1930's, it grabs your attention as it rolls on. Jessie is married to a minor Michelin heir who convinces him to go to Vietnam and oversee the large family rubber plantations as a means to advance his stalled career.

Jessie is an American with a very colorful past that has lived in Paris for the past decade. She prefers to keep her past hidden and sees the move as a way to start over. Her husband, Victor, is also eag
Joy D
Historical fiction set in French Indochina, present day Vietnam, in the 1930s. Protagonist Jessie Lesage, an American with a troubled childhood, has arrived in Hanoi from Paris with her French husband, Victor Michelin Lesage, and young daughter, Lucie. Victor is the new manager of the Michelin rubber plantations near Saigon, which have recently been a source of scandal. Jessie meets French expat Marcelle de Fabray, a glamorous woman having an affair with an Indochinese silk magnate. The story is ...more
Karen R
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This beautifully written story focuses on a variety of compelling characters, all of whom are harboring secrets during the escalation of unrest leading up to the France-Indochina war. This story is extremely compelling, tense and twisty with an ingenious element that includes American Jessie Lesage, a former Parisian socialite with a history of mental illnes, who moves with her husband to Indochina and who’s world is in question, begging the reader to decide what is real versus imagined.
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books featuring Vietnam seem to be popping up everywhere. This is my third in the past month--two historical fiction and one thriller. This new title from Karin Tanabe is set in the 30's at the height of French colonialism. Jessie and Marcelle tell the story of swanky clubs, fancy yachts, opium parties, and the rise of communism on the rubber plantations. The lives of the two women are intertwined in ways we do not understand until much later in the narrative. Through it all, Jessie strives for ...more
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the 1930's Indochine becomes the new home for a young family, part of the Michelin empire, as we follow their experiences and adjustments whilst slowly becoming aware of a uniquely original plan to destroy them. The story unfolds slowly between two POVs and at the beginning things seem ideal for the loving couple and their beautiful daughter Lucie. This is a story that embraces the complexity of human emotions, life experiences and moral dilemmas. Through some close encounters with disaster a ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Karin Tanabe brings to life the beautiful lands of Vietnam, but through the lens of unwelcome invaders of the 1920s and ’30s, when the country was called Indochine. The French colonial time period is another sad era these graceful lands and peoples have endured at the hands of foreigners.
The Michelin rubber plantations in Indochine are a huge money-making machine for the French, but they’re a form of torture and slow death for the local inhabitants, or as cruelly labeled by the French, “coolies”
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Hundred Suns is a captivating historical fiction novel with a dash of suspense. It's set in 1930's French colonial Indochine. Jessie Lesage travels to Indochine with her husband Victor, a member of the Michelin family, whose task is to improve the management of the rubber plantations after a series of strikes and workers' deaths. Upon arriving in Indochine, Jessie meets other expatriates and develops a close friendship with an alluring French woman Marcelle. The life of French colonialists is ...more
A Hundred Suns has all the trimmings of a historical fiction - history, culture, a bit of suspense, and an array of interesting characters all come together in this enjoyable novel. Set in Vietnam during the 1930s, Jessie Lesage arrives in the French colony to begin the next stage of her life as the wife of Victor Michelin Lesage of the famous Michelin family, who has recently moved there to manage the family’s rubber plantations. Set to enjoy her new life with her husband and daughter in a plac ...more
I received a complimentary digital copy of this arc book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

In September of 1933, Jessie and Victor Lesage move from France to live in the French Indochina to hopefully win favor with his successful Michelin family. There have been many riots and political upheaval at the rubber plant which is in desperate need of supervision in south Cochinchina.

Jessie was born the oldest of 7 children in a poor farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. Grow
Jun 13, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martins for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Hundred Suns
By: Karin Tanabe

I was a bit disappointed with A Hundred Suns because I was expecting something more from this book. Set in Indiochine in an era I know little about, the story was informative, and I appreciate that. The plot just seemed stuck and not interesting to me because I kept thinking about other things. For whatever reason I made no c
Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This book was such a breath of fresh air for me. You ever have those books where you know that it was exactly the right moment for you to read them? That was this book for me. This story was so different and lush, and it was just not what I was expecting. I love it when that happens--it's so refreshing. A Hundred Suns transported me to a time and place that I had never read about before, and I think that historical
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Off to the house of a hundred suns?’

Set in the French Indochinese (South-East Asia) colonial world of the 1930s, this novel combines romance, intrigue and some of the worst colonial excesses of the era. But the colonists won’t continue to have everything their own way.

One humid afternoon in 1933, the American-born Jessie Lesage arrives in Hanoi with her husband and daughter. Her husband, Victor, is an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune. Their daughter, Lucie, is young enough to quickly adapt t
Randi (readsrandiread)
Historical fiction taking place in 1930s Indochine (Vietnam). Not at all an area or history I was familiar with. There was a lot of history lessons packed into this book, which some people in our buddy read chats found a little like reading a textbook, but I really enjoyed. I thought the middle lagged a little bit, but the beginning gets you invested quickly and the end gets a little thrillery which got my blood pumping. ⁣
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5, but not rounding up.

This book was not at all what I expected.

Sort of historical fiction, but more evocative of a time and place--which I love.

1930s Vietnam [Indochine]. Jessie Lange, a dirt poor girl from West Virginia, lands her husband, Victor, a Michelin heir, in Paris. She maneuvers a move from Paris to Indochine where they enter the colonial lifestyle and...

Marcelle de Fabry, a married Parisian woman, also of humble
Jenny Buchta
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was another win by Karin Tanabe. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy her previous works, but this story was a real page turner. Set in Vietnam (Indochina) during the early 1930s, we follow Jessie and Marcella as they navigate the Michelin rubber plantations and Communist uprisings of the French colonial time period. I thought this story was fast-paced and the plot was fantastic. I highly recommend!

Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


This was very good. Intriguing story about Jessie and Victor Lesage, a married couple of the Michelin family fame, and their experiences in Indochina in the 1930s. Moving from France to oversee the production process in the rubber plantations, intrigue and hidden pasts begin to surface in mysterious ways.

As elite members of French society in colonialist Indochina, the Lesages develop a friendship at the Officer’s Club with Arnaud de Fabrey, the president of the chamber of commerc
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite of Karin Tanabe's books yet--she does a wonderful job of recreating the glamour of 1930s Indochine in this captivating thriller. She puts a much-appreciated twist on the typical unreliable narrator figure with Jessie. I couldn't put it down!! ...more
Rating: 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars

Karin Tanabe’s “A Hundred Suns” did not quite fulfill my expectations. Set in 1930’s Indochine (present-day Vietnam) the book introduces us to Jessie and her French husband Victor Michelin Lesage. They are moving from Paris so that Victor can climb another rung on his family’s business ladder. American Jessie comes with her own set of secrets that she is trying to run from and bury. The dissolute ex-pat society that she finds in Indochine exacerbates her
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Play Book Tag: A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe - 3 stars 1 8 Feb 19, 2021 09:57AM  

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KARIN TANABE is the author of five novels, including A Hundred Suns and The Gilded Years (soon to be a major motion picture starring Zendaya, who will produce alongside Reese Witherspoon/Hello Sunshine). A former Politico reporter, she has also written for The Washington Post, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, and Newsday. She has appeared as a celebrity and politics expert on Entertainment T ...more

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