Mark Sasse’s historic novel/contemporary romance takes place in Vietnam during two time periods, World War II and present day. Estranged from his father Charles Regal Carson II of Carson Oil, Chip (Charles Regal Carson III) travels to Tan Trao, North Vietnam and discovers a connection to his paternal grandfather, the Flying Dutchman, an American soldier on a mission to help repel Japanese aggression. Chip and his fiancé Thuy explore the Phuong Hoang Cave Historical Site. Vietnam wasn’t something his grandfather talked about, and when Chip comes across a carving in stone – his grandfather’s name linked to the name of a woman Mai, Chip finds himself wondering who Mai was. The discovery opened a vault of questions that wouldn’t be answered until Chip, through a life changing mishap, was given the key to unearthing the mystery.
“This banyan tree is many centuries old. It stands a sacred test of time…not just because of its beauty and majesty. It is a symbol of life coming from death…the branches never forget where they came from. This is the land of Vietnam.” (From The Reach of the Banyan Tree – p. 70) There are many references to the banyan tree throughout the book. Its importance to the village of Tan Trao never waned through the years; it was as relevant during the Chip’s story as it was during the time of his grandfather.
Sasse’s depiction of Vietnam during both eras was accurate, though the characters are fictitious. His story focuses on the coming together of two different cultures, American and Vietnamese, at different times, and shows that love knows no political boundaries.
The plot explores the complexities of then and now Vietnam and the lives of two Americans living there. The characters are well defined, and so believable it is difficult to separate historical fact from fiction. Add the elements of romance and mystery, and you have a book that is hard to put down.
Mark W Sasse was born in western Pennsylvania, but has spent nearly two decades living, teaching, and writing overseas in Vietnam and Malaysia. He has advanced degrees in Humanities and English. His debut novel, Beauty Rising, was released in December 2012 which was followed by The Recluse Storyteller in October 2013. He is also an enthusiast of live theatre. He writes and directs for the drama troupe The RLT Players. He won the award for “Best Script” in 2013 Penang Short & Sweet Festival for his script “No In Spite of Itself.” His short play “Drive All Night” won the Audience Choice award at the 2012 Penang Short & Sweet Festival. The Reach of the Banyan Tree is his third novel.
The Reach of the Banyan Tree is due out July1, 2014.
To follow Mark Sasse on Facebook, click here.
To go to Mark Sasse’s author page on Amazon, click here.
To visit Mark Sasse’s blog mwsasse, click here.
This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.