In the Fabled East by Adam Lewis Schroeder (Canada)
Published: March 2010 (Canada only)
Unfortunately I was unable to finish this book. I made it to page 129/408 and just couldn't push myself to trudge through the whole book. I had really wanted to like the book as I loved Schroeder's first book, Empress of Asia, and was eagerly awaiting his second book. Upon finding out the time period of this book Paris, early 1900's and 1930's French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.) I was very excited to read the book. But for some reason I didn't make any connection with the characters at all and found myself putting the book down often and only reluctantly picking it up again and I hate to say it but found boring is the only word that comes to mind. Perhaps it was just the wrong time and place for this reader, I certainly wouldn't advice anyone *not* to read the book based on my humble opinion. I will still be keeping my eye out for Schroeder's next book, as I am not ready to give up on him this soon.
From one of Canada’s best young voices comes a sweeping literary adventure set against the backdrop of French Indochina.
Paris, 1909: Adélie Tremier, a young widow suffering the final stages of tuberculosis, flees for French-occupied Indochina, through the lush forests of Laos, to seek out a fabled spring of immortality that might allow her to return to her nine-year-old son.
Laos, 1936: Pierre Lazarie, a young academic turned Saigon bureaucrat, is sent by Adélie’s son, now an Army captain, to find his longlost mother. Although his assigned quest fulfills Pierre’s fantasy to travel up the exotic Mekong, he is saddled with his colleague Henri LeDallic, an Indochina old-timer who would rather glory in his loutish past than hunt for ghosts in the jungle. Yet what this mismatched pair discovers forms the mysterious heart of Adam Lewis Schroeder’s brilliant and compelling new novel.
Bridging history from 1890s Aix-en-Provence to American involvement in 1950s Vietnam, In the Fabled East is a rich and sensual depiction of Southeast Asia, charting the loss of innocence of both individuals and the world at large. Echoing Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad, this is historical fiction written with wisdom and panache.