The Lake Pagoda by Ann Bennett / #Extract #BlogTour @maryanneyarde @annbennett71


Indochina 1945: Arielle, who is half-French, half-Vietnamese, is working as a secretary for the French colonial government when the Japanese storm Hanoi. Although her Asian blood spares her from imprisonment, she is forced to work for the occupiers. The Viet Minh threaten to reveal dark secrets from her past if she won’t pass them information from her new masters.

Drawn ever deeper into the rebels’ dangerous world, will Arielle ever escape the torment of her past? Or will she find love amidst the turmoil of war?




Hanoi, March, 1945

Arielle lost track of time and had no idea of how long she’d sat there, tears streaming down her face, but eventually it dawned on her that the guards were still on the door for a reason. Did it mean that the rest of the soldiers were intending to return? Suddenly, she realised that she should try to get home before they appeared. Later, she would try to find out where Papa and the others had been taken. Once she’d resolved to make a move, she wanted to be out of the building as quickly as she could. She scrambled to her feet, and, keeping her eyes averted from Pierre’s body, made her way between the desks to the double doors where the guards stood. Her heart was hammering as she drew closer. She could already see the staircase beyond, only a few steps to freedom.

One of the guards put out a hand to stop her as she tried to pass.

‘Where you go?’ he asked sternly.

‘I need to get home,’ she said without looking into his eyes. Her voice was tremulous with fear.

‘You cannot go,’ the soldier said pushing her back into the room.

‘But why? I am Annamese, not French. I am surely free to leave here?’

He shook his head. ‘You are not free,’ he said, and she wondered what he meant.

‘Please,’ she began, a sob catching in her voice. ‘There is no reason for me to stay…’ but even as she said that she heard the sound of an engine outside, footsteps on the front steps and the doors to the building being torn open violently, slamming against the walls. Then came the sound of boots on the stairs. Several Japanese soldiers appeared at once, and she sensed from the swaggering way they walked, by the fact that they were followed by a retinue and by the way the guards on the door stiffened and stood to attention, that these were important men.

She stood aside as they swept into the room. The man at the front was stony-faced and held a rigid, commanding air. He wore a peaked cap and elaborate uniform, decorated with many coloured medals. The two others were half a step behind him, followed by four ordinary soldiers in khaki uniforms and simple caps, their rifles drawn.

The three officers stopped in the middle of the room and conferred briefly, then one of them turned and shouted at the guards on the door, pointing to Pierre’s body. The guards sprang into action, hurried to where the body was, picked him up by his hands and feet and dragged him unceremoniously out of the room. The commanding officer wandered around the room briefly, running his hand over typewriters, over papers left on desks, occasionally picking something up and peering at it closely. Finally, he settled himself behind the biggest desk in the room and swept everything off the surface. Papers, pens, ink pots, paper clips, photographs, all tumbled to the floor. He barked some orders to the soldiers who immediately rushed over and dropped to the floor to remove the clutter. The other two officers also found themselves desks in the room. Arielle watched, pressed against the wall, her heart beating fast, dreading the moment when they would notice her standing there.

It came when the commanding officer lifted his eyes from the desk and looked around the room. They widened as he caught sight of Arielle.

‘Come here, girl,’ he said in broken French. Slowly, shaking from head to foot, she walked towards him. ‘Vite, vite,’ he said and she sped up, stumbling over an upturned chair.

‘Who are you?’ he asked, and she knew that it would be fatal to give her proper name, which would give away the fact that she was half French.

‘My name is Tuyen, sir,’ she said thinking quickly, ‘Tuyen Nguyen.’ She gave her mother’s name, saying a hasty prayer to her long dead mother, asking her to understand.

‘What do you do here?’

‘I am a secretary, sir. I type letters mainly, and I file papers.’

‘I need a secretary,’ he said. ‘One who can speak both French and Annamese. You can do that, I assume?’

Thank you, Ann Bennett and The Coffee Pot Book Club


About the Author

Ann Bennett was born in Pury End, a small village in Northamptonshire, UK and now lives in Surrey. Her first book, A Daughter’s Quest, originally published as Bamboo Heart, was in-spired by her father’s experience as a prisoner of war on the Thai-Burma Railway. The Plant-er’s Wife (originally Bamboo Island) a Daughter’s Promise and The Homecoming, (formerly Bamboo Road), The Tea Panter’s Club and The Amulet are also about the war in South East Asia, all six making up the Echoes of Empire Collection.

Ann is also author of The Runaway Sisters ,The Orphan House, and The Child Without a Home, published by Bookouture.

The Lake Pavilion and The Lake Palace are both set in British India in the 1930s and 40s. Her latest book, The Lake Pagoda, set in French Indochina in the 30s and 40s, will be pub-lished in April 2022.

Ann is married with three grown up sons and a granddaughter and works as a lawyer


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