Book Review: The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
I got this beautiful book, a hardback, in a giveaway from Audra at Unabridged Chick.

The story sounded interesting and it most certainly was. The writing was exquisite too.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement: What it is about

This is the story of Hu’ng, a pho (soup) seller and Maggie, an American with Vietnamese parents. When Maggie comes to Vietnam to find information about her father who died when she was young, she comes across Hu’ng, an old and poor pho seller who works in the streets of Hanoi.

He used to have a small restaurant where artists, like Maggie’s father, used to come together, until they were arrested by the communist government and put into re-education camps.

Hu’ng is not sure whether he remembers Maggie’s father. Maggie gets some help from a tourist guide, Tu’ and the three of them eventually find out more about Maggie’s father and the movement he was a member of, the Beauty of Humanity Movement.

Interwoven in the story is the love story of Hu’ng and his neighbor Lan, who haven’t spoken to each other for 40 years.

This is a story about hardship and betrayal, but also about friendship and love.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement: What I thought

I had never heard of pho and I have no particular interest in knowing about Vietnam or its history. The sign of a good writer is when she can make you interested in the story anyway. And that is what Camilla Gibb did.

It only took a few pages to feel attached to Hu’ng and to care for his well-being. The other main characters were introduced one by one and they were interesting too: Tu’ the tourist guide who has memorized lots of useless bits of information, Maggie, the American Vietnamese who is desperate to find a trace of her father’s past existence, Lan, the quiet neighbor who is always nearby but never talks or looks at Hu’ng.

The story never felt forced. During the book, more and more is revealed about Hu’ng, about the possible directions in life that Maggie’s father took, and about Lan. It never seemed that the author was forcing new information on the reader so that the reader would have all the information together at the end of the book. Instead, it all came very naturally.

The writing style was really good. Most of the book was written in the present tense, which worked really well, there was a feeling of being there, right there, while it happened.

I loved this book and will be looking out for other books by this author!

Rating: 5/5 stars

I got this book: from Audra at Unabridged Chick in a giveaway

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 320

First published: 2011 (March)

Genre: contemporary fiction, literary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

12 Responses to Book Review: The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

  1. Cindy says:

    Your review makes me want to read this very badly, it is not often that you award 5/5.

  2. Nadine Nys says:

    Sounds like I might enjoy this too. You know, Judith, I hold you personally responsible for the constantly increasing length of my TBR-list. 🙂

  3. Trisha says:

    I have to agree that it takes a good writer to get me interested in something I don’t particularly care about. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I’m so thrilled you enjoyed this — this was such an unexpectedly good book. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it.

  5. I loved Gibb’s earlier book ‘The Sweetness in the Belly’ and so was excited when I heard this one was being released. I’m surprised that she has written a thriller, but pleased that you loved this one so much – I’ll ensure I read it soon.

  6. Aths says:

    Glad you loved this one! I was looking for a book about Vietnam from the perspective of its own people and enjoyed this one for its minimal focus on the Nam war. I thought the writing was fabulous too!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Aths, the writing was so beautiful! I guess even if nothing much had happened in the book I would have liked it. But the story was interesting and taught me a lot about Vietnam in a non-patronising way.

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