Anna Lenowens, a proper Englishwoman, was an unlikely candidate to change the course of Siamese (Thai) history. A young widow and mother, her services were engaged in the 1860's by King Mongkut of Siam to help him communicate with foreign governments and be the tutor to his children and favored concubines. Stepping off the steamer from London, Anna found herself in an exotic land she could have only dreamed of: a lush landscape of mystic faiths and curious people, and a king's palace bustling with royal pageantry, ancient custom, and harems. One of her pupils, the young prince Chulalongkorn, was particularly influenced by Leonowens and her Western ideals. He learned about Abraham Lincoln and the tenets of democracy from her, and years later he would become Siam's most progressive king. He guided the country's transformation from a feudal state to a modern society, abolishing slavery and making many other radical reforms.
Weaving meticulously researched facts with beautifully imagined scenes, Margaret Landon recreates an unforgettable portrait of life in a forgotten exotic land. Written more than fifty years ago, and translated into dozens of languages, Anna and the King of Siam (the inspiration for the musical play and film The King and I) continues to delight and enchant readers around the world.
Review by Amanda Evans
Idealist, former perfectionist, and now mother of five, Amanda Evans is also former co-owner of Exodus. Amanda's reviews focus on those items that matter to wives and mothers (which covers more than you might think!). Read more of them here.
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