I recently read “Village Teacher” by Nguyễn Trọng Hiền. I was fascinated by this book and decided to share my review.
Yes, I admit, my time in Vietnam has stayed with me and I’m drawn to stories of that country, but I liked this book so much that I couldn’t stay quiet about it. My review on Goodreads follows.
Village Teacher by neihtn (Nguyễn Trọng Hiền)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
To me, this story was engrossing. I’ve become a slow, undisciplined reader, but this tale carried me along throughout the entire book.
The story takes place during the early years of the French colonization of Vietnam. It is the story of the schoolteacher in a village in northern Vietnam who participates in the royal examinations in the imperial city of Hue. During his time there, he meets a woman of Vietnamese/French descent and the two are strongly attracted to each other. They face opposition to their budding relationship from the woman’s family and society in general, opposition that turns life threatening to the teacher.
The author, Mr. Nguyễn, does a masterful job of describing the situation in Vietnam at the time the story takes place. It is evident he did exhaustive research into this work, and his knowledge of Vietnamese society shines through.
The characters are artfully portrayed, the drama of the circumstances the teacher and the woman he falls for is superbly written. The action scenes in the novel are excellently written and accurate in their depiction.
Well done, Mr. Nguyễn.
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