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The Collection of Heng Souk by [Wilsher, S.R.]
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The Collection of Heng Souk Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 324 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

For many, Heng Souk is a hero, to others he is a criminal. Yet Souk sees himself as neither, merely a man seeking to balance what he once was, with what he now is. When the daughter of his estranged brother arrives, with her comes the possibility of atonement.

Sun has come to tell him of the death of her father, and to give him a package. Her frail uncle is a very different man from family legend. Yet when she discovers the notebook of an American POW, detailing his torturous relationship with his captor, she is startled by what she learns.

Meanwhile, Thomas Allen, still reeling from the death of his daughter, learns that the man he called Dad was not his biological father. The tragically unresolved love story his mother tells him, prompts Thomas to find out why her ‘greatest love’ never returned to her after the Vietnam War.

His search leads him to the notorious prison ‘the Citadel’, and to Sun and her uncle. Despite the hostility of her family, Sun and Thomas begin a perilous relationship. Aware that the fate of Thomas’ father is revealed in the notebook, she is torn between helping Thomas, and the damaging affect the notebook’s revelations will have on all of them.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4291 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1520447876
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CMFU3X0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #562,376 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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I loved this novel. I have been to Hanoi and Halong Bay. The imaginary superb and the way the story is woven exceptional. This book held me totally captivated in the way it was written and executed.
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Highly recommend this book. So rich and thought provoking. Shows you the many layers of mankind in many circumstances. Superb.
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A moving and thoughtful story of the Vietnam war and its aftermath. Gentle and sad despite the confronting subject matter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 273 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life, Death, and the Next Generation 13 May 2014
By BirdieTracy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ephraim Luther is a young man taken prisoner during the Vietnam War and held in a place called the Citadel where he is interrogated by the prison commandant, Heng Souk. They will each impact the other's life in unexpected and monumental ways. During his confinement Ephraim is given a notebook and a pencil by Souk and told to write. And he does. Decades later this journal will come into the hands of a new generation. This diary, written by a young man who has become convinced that it will contain his last thoughts before death, will have a profound effect on many different lives.

It's interesting that Sun, the niece of Heng Souk, was sickened by what he had done during the war. This will ever be one of the ironies of war; that those who come after reject the brutality of their forefathers. They are blind to a time when the luxury of taking the long view was impossible. People were dying, countries were being invaded, information had to be obtained, and decisions had to be made. As Heng tells his niece when she asks if the words in the journal written by the young American were true, "I did what needed to be done". I think that therein lies the hope for the human race; that generation by successive generation reject things that were done in the past. And although repelled, Sun is either unwilling or unable to stop reading and questioning, demanding to understand.

Meanwhile Thomas Allen is on his way to Vietnam to look for traces of a father he has never known. His path will cross with both Sun and Heng Souk and the results will be both bloody and unexpected. Thomas and Sun, children of the generation following the war but from opposite sides, are left to find and make peace with the actions of men who fought each other in a war that left deep scars on two different countries.

When our children look into our pasts there is always the chance that they will unearth things better left buried. Secrets long hidden, decisions made, acts committed, pain tucked away, can come back to life to haunt us, and worse, our children. Sometimes they go to the grave with us but many times, through unforseen circumstances, even a kind of cosmic bitter retribution, they are unearthed.

In the end, this is an age old story about children searching for the truth of their lives through the examination of those who came before. Coming to terms with what they find out is a solitary process that can answer some questions and leave them with more. The lessons learned will be shown in how they proceed with their lives.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Each of us sat in the centre of our own universe waitinng for out own sun to perish." 30 April 2014
By Amelia Gremelspacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This lovely book deals with indecent brutality yet never stoops to sensationalism or pathos. Three characters converge in search of a truth buried in The Citadel prison in Thai Binh in Vietnam. All are effectively deeply by a notebook written in captivity by Ephraim Luther. One of the three is a son of a fellow prisoner, hollowed by his own tragedy. Accompanying one of the most feared interrigators, is his niece Sun who has recently learned he may be her father.

The novel beautifully proposes the result if each of us were to be able to leave the citadels of our own minds and observe the soul of other men and women. This construct can easily become maudlin and the temptation must always be to resolve terrifying differences neatly. This author has resisted these traps and crafted a novel that makes me pause deeply. The language is literate and used with elegance. I recommend you read this unknown book and find a truly gifted writer.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So different and so engrossing! 17 October 2014
By weebiscuit - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I think of some of the drivel published by established publishing houses and compare it to this wonderful, self-published book, it amazes me that this one wouldn't have been snapped up in an instant.

This is one of those rare finds, and I believe that it will grow in popularity as more people discover it. This is the story of Sun, a Vietnamese woman, whose father dies. She is instructed to deliver a gun with a pencil stuck in the barrel to her father's brother, Heng Souk. This gun becomes crucial to the story.

Throughout her life Sun has heard her mother talk of this brother in very discouraging terms. Sun, never having met him, seeks him out and delivers the gun. What ensues is her discovery of the role her uncle played in a horrible POW camp in Viet Nam. While at her uncle's shabby apartment, she discovers a notebook and he gives her to read.

Inside the notebook are many pages written by an American POW in the camp. The horrors of his interment and the brutality the POW describes, coming from the hands of her uncle, greatly disturb Sun. But as the days go by, they decide to visit this old POW camp, and Sun slowly changes her mind about her uncle as he talks to her about his role in the camp.

Across the world, in England, the father of a man named Thomas has just died and Thomas finds out that this was not his biological father. His mother and sister tell him the truth.The truth is that his mother, while a young US citizen and still living in the US, had an affair with a GI before he went off to fight in Viet Nam. The GI wrote her a few letters and in writing back to him, she tells him she is pregnant with his child. She doesn't hear from him again, so she emigrates to England to live with her father's relatives there.

Having gone through the accidental drowning death of his three year old daughter and subsequent divorce, Thomas is a shattered man. Finding out about his true parentage, he decides to go to Viet Nam and see if he can discover anything which will lead him to his father. This is where his path crosses that of Sun and her uncle Henk, as Thomas also travels to the old POW camp to search for clues. In her hands, Sun holds the notebook of the American POW. In his notebook, he wrote of Thomas' father, and how he was also a prisoner in the camp, and how he was killed by Sun's uncle.

I fear I've already given away too much of the story, so I'll not spoil it by going into it any further!

The cleverly interwoven stories of Sun and Thomas, two people from different cultures and different lives, did not disappoint. They each came to their own watershed moments of what life should be about. But this was not a love story by any means. Sun and Thomas went on to resume their respective lives, but each was changed and strengthened by what they learned while in the POW camp.

There were so many things to love about this book. The prose was wonderfully constructed and some sentences contained an ethereal, lyrical quality. While the descriptions of the POW camp were depressing and horrifying, they never descended to lurid details designed to sicken the reader. They were realistic without being eviscerating.

This book was different from anything I've read before, and I'm a voracious reader. It was a wonderful escape from the mundane, formulaic historical fictions pieces that are flooding the market. I would heartily recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Put it Down!!! 22 June 2014
By Sue in CT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Collection of Heng Souk by S.R. Wilsher is a fictional story that takes place 40 years after and during the Vietnam War. Sun (one of the main characters) delivers a box to her uncle, Heng Souk after her father's death. It is during this meeting that Sun takes a notebook written by Ephraim (a POW) from her uncle and reads about the past and what really happened while her uncle was commander of the Citadel (POW Camp).

This is a gripping story about love, forgiveness, understanding, and so much more. The emotions of the characters and intensity of the situations within this novel is beautifully written. In fact, it is written so well that you have to be prepared for that which is not written into words. I don't want to write any spoilers so I really can't explain this statement but you will know what I mean once you read it.

The story has subplots that connect to the plot. At the beginning of the book (which is where it is the slowest) I wasn't quite sure where the story was going but it didn't take long for it to take off and then there was no putting it down. I found it interesting the way the story came together and how the war affected the men on both sides, others, and the generation to come.

The endings were unexpected and by endings I mean the closures for the characters toward the end of the book not necessarily just the very last page of the book. There were many things said and done that I didn't see coming but what Sun did (regarding her husband, Huy) and the closure Thomas provided to his mother was amazing.

The characters in the story were believable. Sun was a curious, brave, and smart young women who really knew how to control her temper. Although she had an abusive husband, she seemed like she could hold her own in most situations. She was likable and I found the 'growth' in her character interesting.

I hate Heng Souk for what he did to the POWs but at the same time I found him to be a fascinating character. It was almost like he was two separate characters because of what he was like during the war isn't what he is like now. He seemed distant and a mystery (as he was to Sun) throughout the book. He never directly answered many questions yet he answered them (I was expecting a simple "yes" or "no"). Even at the beginning when Sun brought him the box and was going to tell him that his brother (her father) had passed away she eventually tells him that her father had spoke highly of him and his reply was, "We had different skills. People often hold the skills they don't have in high regards." At another point she asked if he thought highly of her father and he replies, "He was my brother." The most notable one to me is at the Citadel when Sun asked if it felt wrong for him to kill the men and he answers, "Few people commit evil without any stain on their conscience. But there are times when your life changes so gradually that you don't realise what you are doing is wrong. The abnormal becomes normal in slow uncertain steps of misfortune and poor judgement; the worst can unwind so slowly that it appears reasonable. But if you want to win wars you need men prepared to do terrible things."

Then there is Ephraim Luther and the notebook he wrote while he was being held at the Citadel about himself, Heng Souk, as well as other POWs. Enough was revealed in the notebook about the horrors of being a POW, I was grateful it did not go into vivid details of the treatment, torture, and death of the men. (What is written is sufficient enough to get the point across without making me sick to my stomach.) The notebook also reveals how everything isn't what it seems, even to Heng Souk. It also helps provide a better understanding of the other characters and how the war affected them.

I thought I would mention that although I came across a few errors, the author is from the U.K. so there are some spelling differences from "American" English (e.g., realise instead of realize) which to me are not errors at all. Either way you view it, it didn't take away from the story. I did not come across any kind of formatting issues although I should mention that the cover of the book on Amazon is not the cover that I have on my Kindle. The one on Amazon is a picture that I assume is of a Vietnam but the one on my Kindle is a red background with a single (partial) tree that looks to be drawn (vs. photo). I contacted the author and found out that the cover was in fact drawn by his daughter for his book however with the comments he received he changed it. If the cover matters and you got the wrong one I am sure if you contact him he will send you the one on Amazon because he had offered to send to send it to me but I much rather have his daughter's drawing.

I have gone over the review for this book for weeks. It is taking me longer to write this than it did to read the whole book because I want to convey the emotion, the thoughts, the feelings, and everything else that was written into this book but even now I still feel I am not expressing it enough. This is a powerful book that I do recommend to those who enjoy history based fiction.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story that will stay with you long after you close the covers. 11 April 2015
By Arlene Eisenbise - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Collection of Heng Souk

The author interwove the present and the past into a stunning tapestry—a complex story to be savored. His descriptions were so appropriate and perfect that my book was often highlighted so that I might return to them.

I knew little of the war with Vietnam—only that it involved defeat and participants left saddened for years after it ended. This story brought that part of history alive for me through wonderfully developed characters. It is human nature to make a judgment about the enemy in any war. We believe that they were wrong and that we were right. But the book contained a simple explanation spoken by Heng Souk—an interrogator at the Thai Binh prison—that gripped me. His niece, Sun Tieng, asked how he could have shot so many of the men taken prisoner. His answer, “They were coming to kill us.”

The author interwove the present and the past into a stunning tapestry—a complex story to be savored. His descriptions were so appropriate and perfect that my book was often highlighted so that I might return to them.

I knew little of the war with Vietnam—only that it involved defeat and participants left saddened for years after it ended. This story brought that part of history alive for me through wonderfully developed characters. It is human nature to make a judgment about the enemy in any war. We believe that they were wrong and that we were right. But the book contained a simple explanation spoken by Heng Souk—an interrogator at the Thai Binh prison—that gripped me. His niece, Sun Tieng, asked how he could have shot so many of the men taken prisoner. His answer, “They were coming to kill us.”
The book’s characters are destined to travel far different paths to arrive at a place where their individual questions can be answered. One came with his grief, another on an important search, others with long unanswered questions. Bloodlines and tragedy link them. The journal kept by prisoner Ephraim Luther was well utilized throughout the book to provide an important back story. There are multiple story lines occurring and the author manages them all.

Sun’s uncle Heng assures her that “you know what others have told you about the war; it’s not the same.” How true for all of us.