Waltzing with the Dragons:
The true story of a mother and daughter in war-torn Vietnam
Born in Vietnam, before emigrating to France at the age of 15, Juliette Mai Triozon has experienced life in two cultures joined by history and conflict. Her experience is shared by many who have exchanged one way of life for another. Juliette's story reflects resilience and strength of character in taking on challenges that span both time and distance.
Vietnam reflects an ancient civilization spanning five millennia, home to a great number of cultures and dynasties over its rich history. It has existed in harmony and in conflict with neighboring civilizations, as well as the outside world, due mainly to its location along navigable rivers and ocean trading routes. During the past century, its course has been influenced by five major world powers, all while sustaining its own unique cultural identity.
In the shadow of this rich cultural history, Juliette (Mai-Tâm) Triozon traces her life and that of her mother, Nguyen Thi Ly, through a turbulent 20th century Vietnam. Waltzing with the Dragons: The true story of a mother and daughter in war-torn Vietnam demonstrates the profound impact of world events on the lives of people who live through them. It is a captivating story traversing all of the key epochs in modern Vietnamese history, beginning with the French colonial period, though the Japanese military occupation, the French withdrawal from Indochina, the war of independence, the emergence of communism and partition of the country, and the war which ensued with the arrival of American troops.
The abandonment of family tradition is a wrenching decision for any young adolescent woman wishing to escape an arranged marriage, especially for one descended from the last of the dynastic mandarins. Taken in by French family friends, Nguyen Thi Ly became Catholic, married a French officer, and became widowed shortly thereafter at the age of eighteen. Ly, who took the name Anna, was a woman ahead of her time, whose independence and force of character enabled her to survive through very demanding times. Her second marriage to a French doctor gave birth to a Eurasian daughter, Mai-Tâm, as ominous events continued to sweep across the country.
Mother and daughter straddled two worlds, accepted by some and rejected by others in the course of their journey. Their stories are depicted without pathos, and without passing value judgments on the choices made in the situations that they faced. Waltzing with the Dragons is a story of our time and of two remarkable women who approached the world on their own terms.