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Daughters of the River Huong: Stories of the Vietnamese Royal Concubine and her Descendants    by Uyen Nicole Duong order for
Daughters of the River Huong
by Uyen Nicole Duong
Order:  USA  Can
Amazon, 2011 (2005)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Uyen Nicole Duong's Daughters of the River Huong bears the subtitle 'Stories of the Vietnamese Royal Concubine and her Descendants'. Simone tells the complex story of four generations of Vietnamese women: Huyen Phi, the Mystique Concubine from the Kingdom of Champa (which no longer exists); Huyen Phi's daughters, Madame Cinnamon and Ginseng; and then Simone's own mother.

Vietnam has had a turbulent history - from monarchy to French Colonialism to American intervention to the fall of Saigon and the ultimate rule of Communism. The hard lives these women endured reek of stoicism and a patience beyond belief. Their histories are very important to them. They call upon their memories, as well as ancient stories that have been handed down through the years and generations, to bolster themselves to put one foot in front of the other.

Vietnam-born author Uyen Nicole Duong came to the United States at the age of sixteen as a political refugee. She has been able to do much more with her life than her forebears. She has a degree in Communication and Journalism, a law degree and an advanced LLM degree from Harvard. She trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena and has been a journalist, Public Education Administrator, attorney, law professor, and a self-taught painter. If for no other reason, one should read this book to see what makes a person with such drive tick.

On its own merits, Daughters of the River Huong is a must-read, full of information that was elusive during the Vietnam War. And it gives a true picture of what life was like at that time and for centuries before. Well worth the read.

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