Growing up in Hanoi, Haiphong, and Saigon, Mai Elliott loved listening to the stories told by her parents and other relatives about their parents and grandparents. She found these tales fascinating - some funny, some tragic. She knew one day she would tell their stories and she has in her book The Sacred Willow. In The Sacred Willow Mai tells the story of her family over four generations, from the 19th century to the present. She takes us back to the vanished world where her great-grandfather, Duong Lam, rose from poverty to become a mandarin at the imperial court. She tells of childhood hours spent in her grandmother's sil shop - and of hiding while French troops torched her village, watching blossoms from the trees torn by fire flutter "like hundreds of butterflies" overhead. She reveals the agonizing choices that split Vietnamese families, while her father, loyal to his mandarin heritage, served the French colonial regime, her eldest sister joined the Communist guerillas and vanished for years into the jungle. Finally, Mai traces her family's journey through some of the most harrowing events of recent times - the fall of Saigon, the exodus of the boat people, and the re-education camps endured by those who were left behind. Writing with insight and compassion, Mai Elliott weaves a narrative with the richness and colour of a historical novel. Haunting, heartbreaking and inspiring, The Sacred Willow wo;; fprever cjamge pir imderstamdomg pf Vietnam and our role in it.