A bittersweet memoir of French Indochina.
Hanoi, adieu is a memoir of the fragile beauty and dark undercurrents of the years of French occupation in Vietnam. Michel L'Herpiniere was a child of the French empire who arrived in Hanoi in 1936 with his family as a teenager. The family became enamored with the country and the story follows the next fifteen turbulent years: through Michel’s school and university years, his loves and opium addictions, his soldiering experiences, through resistance and incarceration and starvation under the Japanese, his marriage to a planter's daughter and the loss of their estate, through his experiences during the Vietminh siege of Hanoi and its aftermath, and his desperate attempts to keep his business going and raise a family in Hanoi long after most French civilians had left the country. The story is inevitably entwined through the traumatic events of the time, including the Japanese occupation in WWII, the post-war Chinese occupation, the rise of the Vietminh, the fall of French Indochina and the beginning of the American involvement in Vietnam.
Of what has been published in English of the period, most has been written by people who were in Hanoi only briefly or who were never there at all. For this reason, Michel wanted his story told. Mandaley worked with him closely in writing this book, trying to recreate the most vividly remembered scenes in his life. They are his experiences, his memories, his sentiments. Only the words are hers.
Published by Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins, August, 2005.
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