Rated of 5
by Patricia S. (Chicago, IL) Beauty of Humanity Movement
This is a wonderful book with a setting that is unique for historical fiction. Set shortly after the opening of Vietnam after the war, on the surface, it is the story of a Viet Nieu (refugee) woman returning to Vietnam to discover the fate of her father, left behind when she and her mother escaped at the end of the war. In reality, it is the story of the Vietnamese coming to grips with the new world of united Vietnam, returning refugees and the modern world. In my mind, the star of the book is Old Man Hung, a pho-seller who ties the other characters together. Maggie's search for her father never quite clicked for me, I never felt that I understood her feelings for her father, but the rest of the characters made up for that. Even the incidental characters are fully realized, and the setting was perfectly described--I felt I was there in the heat and humidity, the old city decaying and the new city rising, and over all of it were the characters who, lacking their original families, make new ones with what is left. This book made me want to run out and find some pho! The writing is beautiful, the characters stayed with me long after putting the book down and the atmosphere was wonderful. I was especially interested in the views of the war from the Vietnamese viewpoints, which I hadn't encountered before. I would have liked a glossary though, as there were many Vietnamese words included in the text and it would have been easier to look them up in a glossary than try to find them again so I could puzzle them out.
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth (upstate NY) fascinating study of a country
A haunting tale of the lingering effects of the Vietnam War for the country of Vietnam and its people. I recently read The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli, which takes place during the Vietnam War, and I found The Beauty of Humanity Movement to be a lovely follow-up. I think my knowledge gained from Soli's novel about Vietnam and the war was helpful and added more meaning to Gibb's work.
Rated of 5
by Florence K. (Encino, California) The Beauty of Humanity Movement
A tautly written book about the long-lasting effects of the war in Vietnam on the Vietnamese people makes for very interesting reading. The three main characters are well developed, especially that of old man Hung. The bitter-sweet romances lighten the harsh realities in which the characters find themselves. A MUST for my reading group not only for story line but also for discussions about the art, government, family life. culture, and traditions of Vietnam.
Rated of 5
by Jerry P. (Santa Rosa, CA) The Perfect Pho!
I enjoyed this book. Ms Gibb is a good writer. (Actually, I have been browsing Amazon.com to select another of her books.) Her characters were very well developed. I was pleasantly surprised by how knowledgeable she was about the conflicts the Vietnamese people engaged against the French and the Americans to regain their country. I lived during those years and was aware of the later conflict since I was a member of the US Army Reserve. However, this book refreshed my memory that people were basically alike regardless of their language, color of their skin, and so forth. As I was reading her book, the statement, "War is Hell", kept surfacing and that common people (like you and I) came to mind for we truly suffer during war time.
I have been reading recently about other Asian countries who have revolted successfully against repressive governments which have become repressive themselves. Having absolute power is very irresistible and addictive.
I would recommend this book to book clubs since it raises many interesting discussion topics.
Rated of 5
by Donna D. (Williamsville, NY) A Different Perspective on Vietnam
This was a difficult book to rate because, while it was slow getting going, I loved the central character, and was led to think a lot about the history and culture of Vietnam from a very new perspective. Since I had many peers who faced the draft during the Vietnam war, my previous exposure to the history and culture was a very westernized version and centered on wartime issues. This novel cast things in a very different light and Gibbs very effectively used Hung, the aging pho vendor, to draw the reader through Vietnam's turbulent late colonial, wartime, and post-war periods, always from the point of view of a poor North Vietnamese man who became educated and heavily influenced by the artists and intellectuals who frequented his pho shop. While vacationing in Vietnam, Gibbs was inspired to write this work, by a young tour guide who allowed her to question him, sharing his thoughts and aspirations. She did a nice job presenting the setting, developed a marvelous main character, but fell just a bit short in the secondary characters and developed a somewhat forced conclusion to the story.
Rated of 5
by Maggie P. (Redmond, WA) The Beauty of Humanity
I loved the prospective of this book. It gives back ground into a world I think is unfamiliar to most people. I found myself not wanting to put it down and/or picking up just to read a couple more lines here and there. It offers mystery, history and culture. I feel this book would appeal to a great many readers.
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...