MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of Le Colonial by Kien Nguyen

Le Colonial

by Kien Nguyen

Le Colonial by Kien Nguyen X
Le Colonial by Kien Nguyen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Aug 2004, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Drawing from a richly layered history and based loosely on the life of Pierre de Béhaine, Le Colonial is an unforgettable and romantic epic. A shimmering tapestry of swords and silk, it explores faith, passion, and the perils of ambition.

A stunning epic of Asian history in the tradition of James Clavell, from the author of The Tapestries and The Unwanted.

Paris in the late 1700s. The France of Victor Hugo. This is the world that three men will leave behind as they embark on a mission of faith and passion in Annam, an exotic land in the Far East. And although they imagine that they will sail into the harbors peacefully and bring hope and meaning into the lives of the faithless, what they discover when they arrive is civil war, warlords on horseback, floods, and famine. In a hostile new world, these three men - François Gervaise, a handsome painter; Henri Monange, a young runaway; and Pierre de Béhaine, a charismatic priest - discover that although they have come to convert the heathens, it is their own hearts and souls that are changed forever. Their dreams of colonial glory dashed, they must reinvent the meaning of their journey.

Drawing from a richly layered history and based loosely on the life of Pierre de Béhaine, Le Colonial is an unforgettable and romantic epic. A shimmering tapestry of swords and silk, it explores faith, passion, and the perils of ambition.

CHAPTER ONE

Avignon, France, 1771

The brush was a hickory twig, its end hammered into a soft, pointed fringe. The painter drew it across the canvas, tracing a long stroke of cobalt blue - the light of predawn. Another dash, a smear, a twist of the bristles, and a cluster of areca palms silhouetted the horizon. The only movement was a blur of wind across a colony of stars.

It was the first day of winter. The inside of the church was so cold that he could see his breath in the candlelight. The painting was a rectangle of oils on sheepskin, stretched on a wooden frame. Its image resembled nothing of the splendor and immensity of the surrounding medieval architecture but was cast in the bold colors of his imagination. Hanging by cords over his wool coat was a collection of curios - fragments of broken clay pots, pinecones, a metal goblet, clumps of feathers, a bird's wing. The rest of his belongings ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

The New Yorker
Nguyen's first novel, The Tapestries, followed the long silk thread of his Vietnamese family's history (his grandfather was a court embroiderer) against a background of strife, oppression, and social change. Here he reaches further back into Vietnam's history it is 1773, the country is called Annam, and three French missionaries, financed by the French government, set off to convert the Annamese to Christianity. The trio are confronted by relentless horrors—executions, pillage, starvation—which challenge their religious faith. The violence of the story is sometimes at odds with the author's penchant for poetic description, which is more suited to quieter interludes, as when a character walking along the coast of the South China Sea watches as the sun bloomed like a red dahlia, petals ablaze.

Library Journal - Barbara Hoffert
In his second novel, the Vietnamese-born Nguyen delivers a rich, satisfying tale that goes just beyond the typical historical saga to raise interesting questions of faith and culture while instructing us in the history of a country with which we were once at war. Recommended for most collections. 

Kirkus Reviews
An intriguing epic of ethical, moral, and spiritual conflicts from an emerging talent worth watching. 

Publishers Weekly
Nguyen maintains the impressive period detail that made his first novel, The Tapestries, so compelling, but his narrative is much sharper this time around, with the story drawing energy from the contrast between the characters' various agendas, particularly the constant clashes between Gervaise and Béhaine. Nguyen's take on the meeting of East and West is intelligent, heady and memorable.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Kien Nguyen

If you liked Le Colonial, try these:

  • The Last Gods of Indochine jacket

    The Last Gods of Indochine

    by Samuel Ferrer

    Published 2016

    About this book

    Nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize ("The Booker of Asia")

    "A sublime tale told by a master storyteller, steeped in the lore of old. Ferrer's conjuring of romantic Indochine is a journey that lures, stirring up ghosts in a wild phantasmagoria, reckoning with forces both entwined and eternal." - Angela Kan, Travel Host & Writer, The ...

  • War Trash jacket

    War Trash

    by Ha Jin

    Published 2005

    About this book

    More books by this author

    A powerful, unflinching novel that opens a window on an unknown aspect of a little-known war: the experiences of Chinese POWs held by Americans during the Korean conflict.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Good Neighborhood
    A Good Neighborhood
    by Therese Anne Fowler
    After fictionalized biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald (Z, 2013) and Alva Vanderbilt (A Well-Behaved ...
  • Book Jacket: Little Gods
    Little Gods
    by Meng Jin
    Little Gods, Meng Jin's intricate, emotionally intelligent debut, opens with a scene in which ...
  • Book Jacket: The Truants
    The Truants
    by Kate Weinberg
    The Truants opens with Jess Walker, a first-year university student in Norfolk, England, ...
  • Book Jacket: The End of the Ocean
    The End of the Ocean
    by Maja Lunde
    In The History of Bees, her debut novel for adults, internationally bestselling Norwegian writer ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Dirt
    by Jeanine Cummins

    A new American classic, and the first book to ever score a perfect 5-stars in BookBrowse's early reader program!
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cartier's Hope
    by M. J. Rose

    A Gilded Age gem of ambition & betrayal from the author of New York Times bestseller, Tiffany Blues.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The Lost Family

The Lost Family
by Libby Copeland

A deeply reported look at the rise of home genetic testing and the seismic shock it has had on individual lives.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A F I Need I A F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.