|The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jefferies
Book Group 1 - March 2019
Dinah Jefferies is known for writing books that take place in Far East locations at some earlier period of history and usually featuring a search for identity, this as a result of her own identity crisis early in life.
Centered in Vietnam toward the end of French colonial rule and the rise of the Viet Minh in the early 1950’s, the story revolves around a half-Vietnamese, half-French girl, Nicole, who lives in the shadow of her dominating sister, Sylvie and her French colonial father. While Sylvie has been handed the family’s large silk business, Nicole has been given an abandoned silk shop to run in old Hanoi. Here she meets a Vietnamese insurgent who opens her eyes to colonial corruption and her family’s involvement. This conflict along with a competition for her sister’s American boyfriend leads Nicole on a journey to seek resolution to her loss of trust in all she has known and all that comes to matter to her.
Generally, we decided this was a good ‘sofa read’ for, while Jefferies’ books are lavish in descriptions of ‘exotic’ locations, they tend to be rather formulaic and seemed geared to European audiences of non-travelers.