Oct 14, 2014

Book Review: The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB.

The Moonlight Palace
Publisher description:
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.

Liz Rosenberg has written more than thirty novels and nonfiction for adults, poetry collections, and books for young readers.

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.
For more reviews, visit the tour schedule

17 comments:

Serena said...

Did you enjoy this one? I think there could have been more about the grandparents, who seemed more interesting to me...Agnes seemed so oblivious.

Harvee said...

Serena, I would have liked the story to be a bit more vigorous and active, not so laid back. That includes the characters.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I have read a couple of other books by this author (and enjoyed them). This one sounds a little different, so I'm curious. Thanks for sharing...and here's mine: “RUIN FALLS”

Literary Feline said...

I've been curious about this book since seeing it featured on another blog yesterday--I didn't know what it was about though. I like the premise, and am still curious about it, even despite the flaws.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) said...

This one sounds interesting - I think I'd like learning about Singapore, a place I don't know much about other than it's an international business center...I'd keep reading!

Sandra Nachlinger said...

I don't know anything about Singapore, so I'd be interested in reading this book just to learn more about the country. I also enjoy coming-of-age stories.
My Tuesday post features WAR BRIDES.

JoAnn said...

The exotic setting would keep me reading!

Chippy said...

Sounds good - for some reason though no matter how much I'm loving reading a book it takes me ages to finish historical novels, so I'd probably be a while reading this book - weird huh?

I'm stopping by from Teaser Tuesday and Tuesday Intros :)

Chippy

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I like that intro and would keep reading. Hope you like this one. The setting especially appeals to me.

Unknown said...

Interesting teaser. Her dreams sound so sad to me. I hope you are enjoying this!

Here are My Teasers.

kayerj said...

it sounds good but I am not a fan of Asian novels. I hope you enjoy your book. Have a nice week! kelley—the road goes ever ever on

Margot said...

I like the setting of Singapore. The cover is beautiful too.

Brian Joseph said...

I never knew much about the history of Singapore. The story and the historical backdrop sound good.

It also looks as if Liz Rosenberg is a very prolific writer.

Mystica said...

I read this last week and review up in November. I enjoyed the cross cultural mix very much in this book.

Harvee said...

Kelly, here's a memoir you might enjoy. It has received awards and great reviews. Poetic writing about such horrific situations. In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. You won't be disappointed in the writing.

Unknown said...

I like the opening paragraph of this one. Dreams are a curious thing. It is kind of sad hers were so limited.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Singapore is a fascinating setting to be sure!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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