|The Moonlight Palace|
Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British. Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, she struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in unexpected places.
The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and characters set against the backdrop of 1920s Singapore. Published Oct 1, 2014 by Lake Union Publishing.
First chapter, first paragraph:
I have always lived in the crumbling Kampong Glam Palace. Istana Kampong Gelam. Because it is white, with rounded arches in a row, it has the look of an ancient wedding cake. It has always been falling apart, as long as I have known it. Even my nighttime dreams are always set inside the palace compound. Unlike friends and schoolmates who share exciting flying dreams, where they sail away over the tiled rooftops through surging grey clouds beyond tiny Singapore, in my own dreams I skim low through the rooms of the palace, barely above the ground. I see the patterned carpets, the wooden floorboards worn to the smoothness of satin. But never have I risen above the level of the palace ceiling , not even in my dreams.My comments:
I learned something new about the history of the tiny country of Singapore, a sliver of land that was "created" by the British who took control of it and developed it. The mixture of people and cultures there at that time and into the present is fascinating. Our heroine Agnes is part Chinese, part English, part Malaysian, and describes her family as both Buddhist and Muslim.
Agnes almost loses her family inheritance, the Kampong Glam Palace, because some resented that her ancestor, Sultan Hussein Shah, "gave away" to the British the land that later became Singapore. She fights to save her palace inheritance in spite of everything. An intriguing look at history and place, with a charming story of a young girl growing up and finding love in the Singapore of the 1920s. My objective rating: 3.5/5.
She is a professor of English and creative writing at Binghamton University, New York, and has written a book column for the Boston Globe for the past twenty-five years.
Her best selling novels are Home Repair and The Laws of Gravity. She and her husband, David, were raised on Long Island.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a review ARC of this book.
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