With 22 out of 23 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, The Beauty of Humanity Movement is a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:
I loved this book! Gibb writes with great sensitivity about some very difficult issues, and I was impressed by her ability to weave together the stories of her various characters. Even the minor characters are memorable and add to the richness of the novel. I would definitely recommend it to readers who are interested in the people, rather than the politics or the battles, of the Vietnam War (Kathleen W). 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 (Carrie D). The story touches on political upheaval, repression, and poverty, which might be difficult for some to read, but it also touches on love and survival. It was both haunting and hopeful; I highly recommend it (Mary B).
Some readers enjoyed learning about Vietnam's cultural and political history:
This book is so educational, and the information is delivered in a beautiful and interesting manner. I'm inspired to find out more about the history of Vietnam (Trezeline B). Few Americans have heard stories about how North Vietnam endured during our war there. Having spent time in communist and post-communist countries, I'm familiar with the corrosive effects of that system, and Gibb has skillfully woven them into the narrative. This is a good read for individuals interested in the country and the time period (Claire M).
Others delighted in Gibb's vivid descriptions of the Vietnamese landscape and food:
I felt like I was there in the heat and humidity, the old city decaying and the new city rising - this book made me want to run out and find some pho (Patricia S)! I've been to Hanoi, where the novel takes place, and I found Gibb's descriptions to be so accurate that I assumed her cultural and historical perceptions must be as well. I highly recommend this book (Susan B). The author does a wonderful job in her descriptions of the art, foods, smells, and the beauty of the land as well as the poverty - a lovely and gripping novel (Linda G).
Nevertheless, some readers had a few quibbles with the book:
I never felt that I understood Maggie's feelings for her father, but the rest of the characters made up for that. I also would have liked a glossary as there were many Vietnamese words included in the text, and it would have been easier for me to look them up than to find them again in another context and puzzle them out (Patricia S). Although I really like the author's writing style and the way she brings her characters to life, I found the book to be a little slow in the beginning and hard to get into (Theresa R).
But overall, the majority of BookBrowse readers were captivated by Gibb's writing and couldn't get enough of her characters:
What a wonderful book! The storyline was captivating and the characters so well developed, I felt as though, surely, I wanted to know them; I will be recommending this novel to my book group (Freya H). The author was able to evoke emotions through the skillful storytelling of the three main characters, and a strong cast of secondary characters rounded out the story. Though the Beauty of Humanity Movement refers to a group of artists and poets struggling to express themselves, to me the real Beauty of Humanity Movement is embodied in this small group of people who, in spite of all their hardships, never waiver in their devotion to one another (Iris F).
This review was originally published in April 2011, and has been updated for the February 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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