Anna and the King of Siam

Anna and the King of Siam

Book - 2000
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Anna Leonowens, a proper Englishwoman, was an unlikley 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 lush landscape of mystic faiths and curious people, and 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, abolshing slavery and making many other radical reforms.

Weaving meticulously researched facts with beautifully imagined scenes, Margret Landon recreates an unforgettable portrait of life in a forgotten extotic land. Written more than fifty years ago, and translated into dozens of languages, Anna and the King of Siam (the inspiration for the magical play and film The King and I)continues to delight and enchant readers around the world.

Publisher: New York : The John Day C. ; HarperPerennial, 2000, c1944
ISBN: 9780060954888
Branch Call Number: 959.30340922/LAN
Additional Contributors: Ayer, Margaret


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Aug 24, 2018

I had picked this book up because I thought it would be interesting to read the book that the musical was adapted from.....well, I was disappointed for sure.

I did not really enjoy this book that much. While we did get to explore a tiny bit of the world of Siam, we saw it through Anna's rose coloured glasses. I did not think she was entirely open minded about Siam and their culture and way of life. I felt like she was constantly criticizing them and held herself in high regard given that she was a British subject and therefore rules in Siam does not apply to her. Most of the time it feels like she was unprepared for how the Siamese people do things and it is so shocking to her, there were times when she sought to change things (even though it is completely out of the norm for the Siamese). It's a wonder she was able to be there for 5 years!

Now, Anna did do lots of good! Helping out those who don't have a voice and giving those women who seek to have an education an opportunity to learn and grasp it.

I did not enjoy how 'Boy' and 'Louis' were used so interchangeably. Like stop saying Anna and the Boy in like every paragraph! I got really sick of that. And the exchanges and interactions with the King of Siam, maybe they were exaggerated, maybe they aren't. But at times it feels like Anna focuses more on his lesser qualities instead of his better qualities (like he is very intellectual and did try to introduce science and a better way of ruling his people during his time).

Overall, it was a pretty boring read aside from the very impressive cultural displays during celebrations and interactions with the children and harem.

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