Friday, 26 February 2016

The Silk Merchant's Daughter by Dinah Jeffries

The Silk Merchant's Daughter

The Silk Merchant's Daughter by Dinah Jeffries
Published: 25th February 2016
Publisher: Penguin UK
Pages: 400
Available in Hardback and on Kindle

1952, French Indochina. Since her mother's death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule - and her own family's involvement shocks her to the core...

Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she's always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem?

The Silk Merchant's Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial era Vietnam.

Last year I read The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries and I loved it, it was probably one of my favourite reads of last year. So I was very excited to hear she had another novel out so soon. The Silk Merchant’s Daughter tells the tale of Nicole Duvall, a young woman who is half French and half Vietnamese.

Nicole looks Vietnamese just like her dead mother and is struggling to relate to her father and sister Sylvie who both look more French and keep her at a distance. When their father signs over the majority of his silk business to Sylvie when previously he mentioned the girls being equal partners Nicole feels even more left out and seeks solace in the small silk shop she is given in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. As political unrest becomes more and more prominent in daily life Nicole must decide where her heart truly lies, with her French family battling for control or with the Vietnamese people battling for their county. Who can she trust her family, Vietnamese insurgent Tran who seems keen for her to join him or the handsome American trader Mark who is Nicole’s dream man.

Just like in Dinah’s previous novel I was blown away by her ability to capture the true essence of a place, I really felt like I was walking the streets of Hanoi along with Nicole. The sights, the sounds, the smells it has all being captured Dinah’s exquisite writing and this really brought the novel and Vietnam alive for me.

Included in the beginning of this novel is a couple of pages which explains the history of Vietnam around the time this novel was set which I suggest you read beforehand, especially if like me you know nothing  about this part of history, as it helped to gain a little understanding of events in the novel.  I felt this novel was initially much more focused on political events of time rather than the more personal story of Nicole and her family and I didn’t enjoy this as much because political differences in countries is not really my thing. I much preferred the last third of the book which focused more on Nicole’s relationship with her sister.

The Silk Merchant’s Daughter is a novel of conflicts, of sisterly rivalry, trust and above all flowing your heart. I did enjoy reading this but for me The Tea Planter’s Wife was better as I loved the mystery within it. I think Dinah Jeffries is an excellent writer and I’m very keen to go back and read her first novel The Separation and will also be eagerly awaiting her next novel.

Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for this review copy in exchange for my review. I’d like to rate The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jeffries 4 out of 5.

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