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Anna and the King of Siam

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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 exo 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.


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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 exo 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.

30 review for Anna and the King of Siam

  1. 4 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    I had no idea this was based on a memoir. So I was quite excited to give it a shot. Then I became swallowed in the minutiae of description and filler. I think I made the right choice in audiobook with this one. I think a person interested in Siam or that area of Asia in the mid 1800s may find this book interesting; otherwise, it becomes rather flat with constant recitation of children's lessons. I'm glad I read it, but dare I say this...I think I'd rather see the movie.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    A biographical retelling (with fictional bits to fill in the holes) of Anna Leonowens life. A daughter of a British military man, and spending part of her childhood in India, Anna was acquainted with many customs that may have been deemed exotic to the Western world. After school in England, and reuniting with her mother in India, who had remarried after the death of Anna's father, Anna bucked the controlling step-father and married another British military man whom her step-father felt was bene A biographical retelling (with fictional bits to fill in the holes) of Anna Leonowens life. A daughter of a British military man, and spending part of her childhood in India, Anna was acquainted with many customs that may have been deemed exotic to the Western world. After school in England, and reuniting with her mother in India, who had remarried after the death of Anna's father, Anna bucked the controlling step-father and married another British military man whom her step-father felt was beneath her position. Having a few children, (2 died in infancy), and suffering further tragedy with the loss of her mother and then husband, she was hard pressed to provide for her children. Anna decided to open a school for military children out of necessity for income, but her success as an educator soon reached the ears of King Mongkut, king of Siam. He corresponded with her to try to secure her to teach his 82 royal children as well as some of his favored harem. Against the advice of her closest friends, she agreed, taking her young son Louis with her, and having to part with her daughter Avis that had to leave to begin her education in England. Upon arriving in Siam, she was hit with tons of culture shock, and the harsh realities of life there, not only for the poor, but women of any class, and the institution of slavery that was very much a part of life. The longer she was there, the more she saw the injustices on many levels, and she felt it was her mission, or "calling" you might say, appointed by God to make a difference for the future of these people through the education of the royal young. The story draws on not only her diaries and journals, but letters from her children, from her to others, from the King to other dignitaries, and even official royal decrees. The down-trodden and even women of the harem would often come to her for help in some injustice because of her close proximity to the king and access to his ear, along with her unwillingness to back down. She had much success and the king was often angry with her, but her drive to make a difference did not go unnoticed-- even years later, when her grandson visited the country and wanted to see where she had lived, all gladly showed him the home of "the white angel". Her efforts did make a tremendous impact too, even though at the time she felt as if no progress was being made, when one of her students, Prince Chulalongkorn, became king. Because of the impact of her teaching on him, he himself said that he desired to abolish slavery in Siam, do away with the custom of prostration and human worship, building schools and hospitals throughout the country..... and much more, so that the Thai consider him their greatest king. I loved this book, and another example of how one person can make a powerful difference.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    When my friend Kelsey suggested this book, I didn't expect to be so moved. I will try to gather my thoughts and write more soon. ----- Okay, now I can put some of this into words. This is not an easy book to read. While it handles many situations with uncommon delicacy, many things that Anna witnessed were hard. She spent almost six years daily teaching in a haram. Slavery was everywhere; women were not valued, jealousy, false religion, and indecency of all kind abounded. People failed to treat her When my friend Kelsey suggested this book, I didn't expect to be so moved. I will try to gather my thoughts and write more soon. ----- Okay, now I can put some of this into words. This is not an easy book to read. While it handles many situations with uncommon delicacy, many things that Anna witnessed were hard. She spent almost six years daily teaching in a haram. Slavery was everywhere; women were not valued, jealousy, false religion, and indecency of all kind abounded. People failed to treat her well. The king allowed his emotions to rule him which meant Anna was in and out of favor. She watched people tortured to death for crimes they didn't commit. With all of this Anna kept her goal in mind. She knew that she didn't have the power to change the king. She knew that she could not affect political change in Siam herself. She did know that because she could teach the crown prince and the other royal children, she had the ability to influence the future of a nation. So often, if we can't affect change quickly, we stop trying. We stick labels on people and cultures, throw up our hands and walk away. Anna knew that she had to be persistent and keep her goal in mind. She knew that the only way to provide lasting change for a nation was by changing the hearts of the next generation. I was moved by her faithfulness, her courage, and her perseverance.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Antof9

    I really had no idea what to expect when I read this, knowing what I know about both the musical and the more recent movie with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat and how musicals really compare to books (I've read the book and seen on Broadway Wicked, after all). It was really interesting to start with the preface by Margaret Landon and learn more about Anna Leonowens. It made me once again glad that I read prefaces, because it put me in the right state of mind to read this book. One of the first thin I really had no idea what to expect when I read this, knowing what I know about both the musical and the more recent movie with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat and how musicals really compare to books (I've read the book and seen on Broadway Wicked, after all). It was really interesting to start with the preface by Margaret Landon and learn more about Anna Leonowens. It made me once again glad that I read prefaces, because it put me in the right state of mind to read this book. One of the first things I noticed was that the writing was definitely an older style than I normally read ... which made me wonder: if I checked the copyright dates of my current reads, what would the average date be? hmmmm... Anyway, I really -- I mean really -- enjoyed this book. I felt like as "historical fiction", it was one of the most accurate books I've ever read. As non-fiction, it read like a novel. As a biography, I learned so much about this amazing woman, and the incredibly difficult choices she made. Any way you look at it, this is a really good book. There are a million things to write about here, but maybe I'll just leave it at how Anna's teaching and presence affected the future of a country, and how although her opinions may not have affected King Mongkut much (although you could argue that they did); they had a HUGE impact on Prince Chulalongkorn, who later became king. His desire to abolish slavery, and his first official proclamation which eliminated "prostration" were profound.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Evangeline

    Anna and the King of Siam started out on a really high note. I loved the description that dripped with atmosphere, the characters were spunky and unique, and the best part was that it was based off a true story! But then it went on. And on. And on. And ON. The description never ended and the plot never started. Since it is based on a true story, I'm not sure there is a particular plot. It was a struggle to finish.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    Anna and the King of Siam is a fictional account of an English teacher's two volume "memoir" that had long gone out of print. Margaret Landon combined these two books together into a historical novel. As there are so many points of elaboration it is hard to get any real sense of the events that might have actually taken place back in the 1860s. A quick search online will bring up numerous opinions and essays on the story in its many forms: The English Governess at the Siamese Court, The Romance Anna and the King of Siam is a fictional account of an English teacher's two volume "memoir" that had long gone out of print. Margaret Landon combined these two books together into a historical novel. As there are so many points of elaboration it is hard to get any real sense of the events that might have actually taken place back in the 1860s. A quick search online will bring up numerous opinions and essays on the story in its many forms: The English Governess at the Siamese Court, The Romance of the Harem, Anna and the King of Siam, and The King and I. This 1950s reprint of the 1945 novel came my way via the old Bookrelay site. I've seen the musical The King and I a number of times as it was one of my grandmother's favorites and she and I spent a lot of time together. I can't say I agree with grandmother on the film. I've always found it a little boring and off-putting. The book suffers from many of the same problems. The book is long and dry. There are scenes designed for a melodramatic impact but they often fall flat. Landon's descriptions of the scenes reads more like a book report (or perhaps a dull copying job from Leonowen's books?) that are often tedious to read. After having suffered through 352 pages of minutiae one might has well have read a history book on the same subject and at least come away with having learned something! Anna for all her "good intentions" comes off as so xenophobic that it is hard to believe she has as much influence as the novel would have one believe. I am not expecting a "politically correct" novel but Anna's distrust of her Siamese hosts is extreme compared with similar books I've read from similar eras (both the 1940s and the 1860s).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    A fascinating read- I love Thailand and this was an interesting look into its past. The writing style comes across somewhat disorganized and apparently there is some dispute into the veracity of all of her claims. What did I learn from this- there are strong women all over the world who can and do make a difference. As Margaret Landon wrote of some of the Thai women "they were not surpassed by the women of any nation in the world. But the system under which they lived! That was the crux of the m A fascinating read- I love Thailand and this was an interesting look into its past. The writing style comes across somewhat disorganized and apparently there is some dispute into the veracity of all of her claims. What did I learn from this- there are strong women all over the world who can and do make a difference. As Margaret Landon wrote of some of the Thai women "they were not surpassed by the women of any nation in the world. But the system under which they lived! That was the crux of the matter!" That was the best part of this book- the stories of these women- their heroism, kindness, quiet ways of getting what they want or need for those around them. We could all learn from them. It is not your circumstances in life- it is what you do within those circumstances!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mareli Thalwitzer

    For the full review, please visit: http://marelithalkink.blogspot.co.za/... In the early 1860's, Anna Leonowens, a widow with two young children, was invited to Siam (modern day Thailand) by King Mongkut who wanted her to teach his children and wives the English language and introduce them to British customs. Inspired by two memoirs written by Mrs Leonowens, Margaret Landon took the first person narratives and enhanced them with details about the Siamese people and their culture from other source For the full review, please visit: http://marelithalkink.blogspot.co.za/... In the early 1860's, Anna Leonowens, a widow with two young children, was invited to Siam (modern day Thailand) by King Mongkut who wanted her to teach his children and wives the English language and introduce them to British customs. Inspired by two memoirs written by Mrs Leonowens, Margaret Landon took the first person narratives and enhanced them with details about the Siamese people and their culture from other sources. The book has been translated into dozens of languages and has inspired at least six adaptations into various dramatic mediums. Now, for the first time, it is also available on electronic format. Anna's relationship with King Mongkut is complicated from the start (he did promise her a house of her own). As governess, Anna often finds herself at cross-purposes, marveling at the foreign customs, fascinating people and striking landscape of the kingdom and its harems, while simultaneously trying to influence her pupils with her Western ideals and values. Especially young Prince Chulalongkorn. When the young prince became king, Anna's influence has lead Chulalongkorn to abolish slavery in Siam and introduce democratic reform based on the ideas of freedom and human dignity as first learned from his beloved tutor. Anna also assisted King Mongkut to communicate with foreign governments. One actual historical event portrayed in this novel, was King Mongkut's written offer of several pairs of elephants to President Buchanan of the United States. According to King Mongkut, the elephants would be useful in the unsettled parts of the United States. President Buchanan's successor, Abraham Lincoln, responded to the extraordinary offer. In a letter dated February 3, 1862 - he graciously accepted the sword and photograph from the King, but politely declined the elephants. This brilliant novel combines in-depth research with richly imagined details to create a lush portrait of 1860 Siam. Margaret Landon drew her research from Siamese court records and Anna Leonowens' own writing, the two memoirs, The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870) and Romance of the Harem (1872). Anna and the King of Siam has enchanted millions over the years. It's an historical tale of cultural differences that invites readers into an ancient, but vivid world told through the eyes and real-life experiences of unforgettable characters.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura C.

    Anna Leonowens was a real woman and this really happened, and that statement alone seems crazy when you read the book. This is a fabulous story about one woman who happened to be British when the English ruled the world. Behind the familiar story of “The King and I” (which a lone is pretty fabulous!) is the story of Anna’s determination to make the most of the situation she found herself in. It is true that the Brits bowed to no one but their queen and that attitude of “Noblese obligue” gave her Anna Leonowens was a real woman and this really happened, and that statement alone seems crazy when you read the book. This is a fabulous story about one woman who happened to be British when the English ruled the world. Behind the familiar story of “The King and I” (which a lone is pretty fabulous!) is the story of Anna’s determination to make the most of the situation she found herself in. It is true that the Brits bowed to no one but their queen and that attitude of “Noblese obligue” gave her backbone, but it was her own sense of how terribly wrong slavery was, that animates and ennobles much of the story. I loved it so much more than I thought I would.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    In 1951 the well-known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” premiered on Broadway. The basis for the musical play is this book, published in 1944. There really was an Englishwoman who traveled with her son to Bangkok to serve as a school teacher for the many children (and some of their mothers) of the King of Siam in 1862 (he really did have a harem of concubines). Her name was Anna Leonowens. She was recently widowed (her husband had been a British officer serving in the Far East) a In 1951 the well-known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” premiered on Broadway. The basis for the musical play is this book, published in 1944. There really was an Englishwoman who traveled with her son to Bangkok to serve as a school teacher for the many children (and some of their mothers) of the King of Siam in 1862 (he really did have a harem of concubines). Her name was Anna Leonowens. She was recently widowed (her husband had been a British officer serving in the Far East) and now had to support herself and her two children. She and her son spent five years in Bangkok. Her daughter was sent back to England and was never with her in Siam. Hollywood filmed the book in the late 40s, with Rex Harrison playing the king. And of course portraying the king in the musical version was the trademark (career-defining) role for Yul Brynner, who won the Best Actor Oscar for the 1956 film version. That was also the first time Marni Nixon sang for other actresses in film musicals (singing for Deborah Kerr in “The King and I”, Natalie Wood in “West Side Story”, and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady”). The copy I read is an old hardcover version (70 years old now!), and I guess it’s an original edition --- it’s certainly showing its age. Published during World War II, it has this message at the beginning (something I’ve never seen before). “Government wartime restrictions on materials have made it essential that the amount of paper used in each book be reduced to a minimum. This volume is printed on lighter paper than would have been used before material limitations became necessary, and the number of words on each page has been substantially increased. The smaller bulk in no way indicates that the text has been shortened.” The author based the book on two books Anna Leonowens eventually wrote herself. The author sought to combine them and make the story meaningful for contemporary readers. These long out-of-print autobiographical works are “The English Governess at the Siamese Court” published in 1870 and “The Romance of the Harem” published in 1872. Anna also wrote an article about her experience that appeared in an issue of "The Atlantic Monthly" magazine in 1869. Most of what’s in the book does not appear in the musical (the king actually died in 1868 after Anna had already left Bangkok). It’s really a series of episodes describing various experiences and encounters she had. Most of them are quite interesting to read about, and some are quite harrowing. The descriptions of life in the palace, the harem, the justice system, the religious influence of Buddhism, the political situation (the king was quite troubled in dealing with the British and the French and their attempts to expand their empires), the royal ceremonies, and other facets of life in that part of the world at that time period are fascinating.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    "She and the King were more than ...King and governess -. they were friends" By sally tarbox on 30 November 2016 Format: Kindle Edition The source of the musical, this biography of Anna Leonowens, governess to the Siamese royal children, was published in 1945. The author states that she worked from Anna's own memoirs; unfortunately more recent research proves that she re-invented herself significantly through these works; thus her girlhood in Wales, her first visit to Bombay aged 15, so well descri "She and the King were more than ...King and governess -. they were friends" By sally tarbox on 30 November 2016 Format: Kindle Edition The source of the musical, this biography of Anna Leonowens, governess to the Siamese royal children, was published in 1945. The author states that she worked from Anna's own memoirs; unfortunately more recent research proves that she re-invented herself significantly through these works; thus her girlhood in Wales, her first visit to Bombay aged 15, so well described in Ms Landon's work, are in fact totally fallacious - she was born in India of mixed-race parentage. This was quite an interesting read if a little two-dimensional. Anna and her son arrive in a totally alien world: a world of wives and concubines shut up in a harem, where disobedience can result in torture or death. Over it all rules King Mongkut, last of the old style kings, under whom slavery is a fact of life, and where those approaching him are expected to prostrate themselves. Anna is throughout a heroic character, able to stand up to her unpredictable and capricious King, as she intercedes for concubines who have fallen foul of him. She doesn't entirely ring true; but I was entertained and educated nonetheless as Ms Landon describes ceremonies and state affairs, amuses with reproductions of the King's distinctive letters in English and keeps us on edge with tales of prisoners awaiting their fate. And her pride in her best pupil, Prince Chulalongkorn, under whose rule later on slavery would be eradicated. OK but in retrospect I'd probably go for a more factually correct account of Anna Leonowens' life such as 'Bombay Anna'.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan Meyer

    Very good book For a small bit of history of Siam, this is a good book. I don't know much about the facts, having read the preface, but for all the other information that may be true, it is truly a wonderful book. Anna loved her husband dearly and never remarried, but I believe just a tiny bit of the movie that she and the King developed a closer bond of friendship than most friends of today. The love and devotion she had with her pupils was quite obvious, as well as the animosity between herself Very good book For a small bit of history of Siam, this is a good book. I don't know much about the facts, having read the preface, but for all the other information that may be true, it is truly a wonderful book. Anna loved her husband dearly and never remarried, but I believe just a tiny bit of the movie that she and the King developed a closer bond of friendship than most friends of today. The love and devotion she had with her pupils was quite obvious, as well as the animosity between herself and the horrid translator. The many relationships with the women of the harem were complex, at the same time, simple. Lady Thiang was a rare soul, able to love so devoutly, yet recognise the human, or perhaps not so quite human at times, the failings of her husband. To remain devoted to someone like that, with his many violent outbursts of anger and not fear him totally, is very uncommon. Anna's influence on Prince Chulalongkorn just have made her proud of her decision to stay when times were the most difficult. I also believe she must have felt some relief, that her many years there has made such an impression on the young boy. All in all, this is one book I'm glad I bought. I read it when I was much younger, cried in spots, got angry in others, and signed with relief when situations resolved successfully. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history, a few love stories, much conflict, and exciting, tense moments. Anna and the King of Siam will remain a favourite of mine. I'm truly glad it's on my Fire, so I can re-read it whenever I feel the need to travel without leaving my own home.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ipat Veryinsane

    This fiction is an insult to our King and our nation , I'm quite surprise that somebody still refer it as a history fiction tho. Racist everywhere. The King never have any romantic interest with Anna from what has been written in the historical archive , this is an image that Anna has try to proclaimed and painted. Actually she is a big liar , even try to concealed the fact that she was born mixed with Indian blood. How can you believe a woman who tried to conceal even her true identity!! What real This fiction is an insult to our King and our nation , I'm quite surprise that somebody still refer it as a history fiction tho. Racist everywhere. The King never have any romantic interest with Anna from what has been written in the historical archive , this is an image that Anna has try to proclaimed and painted. Actually she is a big liar , even try to concealed the fact that she was born mixed with Indian blood. How can you believe a woman who tried to conceal even her true identity!! What really happen is the king himself even regard Anna as a difficult woman and more difficult than generalities. She is just an Indian-English governess who has been hired to teach! Does not thing about mutual with our political matter or end the slavery of Thailand that she claimed to be the originate of that idea. Yes she might maybe a slightest part of influence because it happens after he visit Europe which there is a big gap in time line. The story was really exaggerated and held slightest part of the truth.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    If you love Rogers and Hammerstein's "The King and I," you will love Landon's "Anna and the King of Siam." She combined two books written by Anna Leonowens with original source material from the Library of Congress to create a beautifully written account of Anna Leonowens' time in Siam. As I read about the harem of the king and the brutal class distinction in Siam, I couldn't help but think that this book is a perfect portrait of what a society in bondage looks like. Rather than believing in the If you love Rogers and Hammerstein's "The King and I," you will love Landon's "Anna and the King of Siam." She combined two books written by Anna Leonowens with original source material from the Library of Congress to create a beautifully written account of Anna Leonowens' time in Siam. As I read about the harem of the king and the brutal class distinction in Siam, I couldn't help but think that this book is a perfect portrait of what a society in bondage looks like. Rather than believing in the Absolute God, Siam put their faith in an Absolute King. As the reader, I felt myself sympathizing with Anna as she experienced the unjust culture that struggled to survive in Siam. My only real complaint about the book was its lack of citation. I know a lot of the information was true, but I also know that Margaret Landon took some liberty with the story. I wish I had a better understanding of what was fact and what was fiction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donald Butchko

    Though it was fun to see how various aspects were adapted into THE KING AND I, the book is pretty dull and tedious otherwise. In addition to supplying a more compelling linear structure, the musical improves upon the source by treating the titular king with more respect and offering Anna a chance to appreciate his strengths. Also, though its detailed descriptions of mid-19th century Siam are detailed, they're not particularly imaginative or poetic and less necessary now that we have access to ph Though it was fun to see how various aspects were adapted into THE KING AND I, the book is pretty dull and tedious otherwise. In addition to supplying a more compelling linear structure, the musical improves upon the source by treating the titular king with more respect and offering Anna a chance to appreciate his strengths. Also, though its detailed descriptions of mid-19th century Siam are detailed, they're not particularly imaginative or poetic and less necessary now that we have access to photos and opulent film interpretations. Still, credit must be given to Landon for recognizing something broadly appealing in Anna Lenowen's original memoirs (which are apparently bogged down with poorly written Siamese history) and adapting them into a more assessable (if still dry) "biographical novel". (I do a more thorough comparison of novel vs. musical vs. fact at http://me2ism.net/2014/09/19/margaret...)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Faouzia

    I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book. In 1862, British governess Anna Leonowens was engaged by the King Mongkut, King of Siam, to be the governess of his children. During the 6 years of her stay in Siam, Anna witnessed a lot, learned much about the culture, traditions, beliefs of this country, but most of all she tried to leave her mark upon the fresh minds of the princes and princesses. During her stay also, she was almost always in opposition with King Mongku I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book. In 1862, British governess Anna Leonowens was engaged by the King Mongkut, King of Siam, to be the governess of his children. During the 6 years of her stay in Siam, Anna witnessed a lot, learned much about the culture, traditions, beliefs of this country, but most of all she tried to leave her mark upon the fresh minds of the princes and princesses. During her stay also, she was almost always in opposition with King Mongkut. They were both with strong personalities, with different priorities and perception of things, which made they relationship a very difficult one, but somehow it ended in a deep friendship. It was not a story with a specific plot, it felt more like an account of the main events that defined and shaped the life of Anna in Siam, also the important moments of this Nation during that period. And i found it all very interesting and fascinating.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vivian Adram

    I had played the tiniest part in the movie Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster & Chow Yuen Fatt as Anna and King Mongkut respectively. Further to this, the movie was shot in my hometown of Penang, where we the locals saw modern day Penang, turn into aincent Siam. It was a wonder. Besides this, Anna's husbands tomb is also found in Penang, Mr. Thomas Leonowens plus I have always loved the older silver screen version of this story; The King and I, where Yul Brynner played the role of the King I had played the tiniest part in the movie Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster & Chow Yuen Fatt as Anna and King Mongkut respectively. Further to this, the movie was shot in my hometown of Penang, where we the locals saw modern day Penang, turn into aincent Siam. It was a wonder. Besides this, Anna's husbands tomb is also found in Penang, Mr. Thomas Leonowens plus I have always loved the older silver screen version of this story; The King and I, where Yul Brynner played the role of the King. This book was a joy to read and has peaked my interest in so many other subjects pertaining the history of Siam, Kedah and Malaysia in general. Plus my interest in Anna's University in Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada. Just pure joy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan Jo Grassi

    The play and movie "The King and I" were adapted from this book. Anna Leonowens was a young widow who, with her son, Louis, whom she often refers to as Boy, spent five plus years in Siam, now Thailand, as teacher to King Mongkut's children and wives and "secretary" to the king himself. Many times she found herself at odds with the king and appalled by many of the ancient customs and cruelties. In later years she was gratified to be told by King Chulalongkorn, the crown prince at the time of her The play and movie "The King and I" were adapted from this book. Anna Leonowens was a young widow who, with her son, Louis, whom she often refers to as Boy, spent five plus years in Siam, now Thailand, as teacher to King Mongkut's children and wives and "secretary" to the king himself. Many times she found herself at odds with the king and appalled by many of the ancient customs and cruelties. In later years she was gratified to be told by King Chulalongkorn, the crown prince at the time of her employment, that he had followed many of her teachings and was bringing his country slowly but surely into the modern age with freedom of religion, the abolishment of slavery and the discontinuation of prostrating oneself, etc., etc., etc.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    This work was extremely well done. The characters were intriguing, the atmosphere crafted in detail, and its lessons applied to life outside of its covers. In particular, I think Anna would make a compelling heroin for older girls or young adult women. She admits fear to herself, but she refuses to let it determine her actions. She has an overriding sense of honor, but she is flexible in how she accomplishes what she sees as honorable outcomes. By putting her heroine against a real and flawed bac This work was extremely well done. The characters were intriguing, the atmosphere crafted in detail, and its lessons applied to life outside of its covers. In particular, I think Anna would make a compelling heroin for older girls or young adult women. She admits fear to herself, but she refuses to let it determine her actions. She has an overriding sense of honor, but she is flexible in how she accomplishes what she sees as honorable outcomes. By putting her heroine against a real and flawed backdrop just at the crossroads between a traditional society and an industrial one, the author ensures that the conflict Anna faces are those that generations of readers will face also.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Awallens

    Believe it or not, between sixth grade and 11th grade I don’t think I read one book that I didn’t have to for school. Too cool to read and all that. Then for some reason my local library for the blind sent me this book. God only knows why. But I devoured it. Within like three days. In braille. This book restarted my love of reading, and it has never stopped. I decided to read it again to see how it held up. I’m a little surprised that this book fueled my love of reading. Maybe it was just so out Believe it or not, between sixth grade and 11th grade I don’t think I read one book that I didn’t have to for school. Too cool to read and all that. Then for some reason my local library for the blind sent me this book. God only knows why. But I devoured it. Within like three days. In braille. This book restarted my love of reading, and it has never stopped. I decided to read it again to see how it held up. I’m a little surprised that this book fueled my love of reading. Maybe it was just so out there with the descriptions of Siam, that I had to love it. It didn’t hold up so well during the second reading, but it was still good.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fabiana Rodriguez Aguilar

    I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book. I am a passionate about Asia's history, but I had a really hard time reading Anna and the King of Siam. I found the story of Anna interesting, but the book is written in some sort of small and brief stories, it feels that every chapter is a new one. It was because of this that I feel it is lacking a plot and a climax, the suspense or the emotion that keeps me turning pages. It took me almost two months to reach to Chapte I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book. I am a passionate about Asia's history, but I had a really hard time reading Anna and the King of Siam. I found the story of Anna interesting, but the book is written in some sort of small and brief stories, it feels that every chapter is a new one. It was because of this that I feel it is lacking a plot and a climax, the suspense or the emotion that keeps me turning pages. It took me almost two months to reach to Chapter 23, and I couldn't finish it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Great read! I'd never read the original, and am currently looking for a copy of the movie just to see how it differs. I know that I've seen the movie, and my memory leads me to believe that it's not at all the same. It's statement about slavery and the ownership of people is something I didn't expect when I began the book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kim Hampton

    I read this book as part of a book club. It's not something I would normally pick up on my own, but I really enjoyed it. The descriptions of life in Siam were vivid and interesting, and I was moved by how much Anna devoted herself to helping the women and slaves. I can't wait to see the film!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This is the novel, based on the non-fiction book. Which eventually became "The King and I". Each a little more removed from what actually happened.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    The story is familiar to those who have seen The King and I. This book filled in some details about Anna's life, but it read more like a report than a novel.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Conrad

    I first read this story many years, ago. I did a quick reread just before we went to see the musical. I still like it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Schmid

    Listened to the audiobook but found it the story and historical background very uninteresting...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Many of them, seeing that she was not afraid to oppose the King, imagined that she had more than human powers. So not only the poor, but the highly placed ladies of the harem came to her secretly with their grievances. Without intent, she found herself set up between the oppressor and the oppressed. Anna and the King of Siam , by Margaret Landon, was originally published in 1944 and told the story about Anna Leonowens and her time as an English governess and teacher to the royal Siamese childr Many of them, seeing that she was not afraid to oppose the King, imagined that she had more than human powers. So not only the poor, but the highly placed ladies of the harem came to her secretly with their grievances. Without intent, she found herself set up between the oppressor and the oppressed. Anna and the King of Siam , by Margaret Landon, was originally published in 1944 and told the story about Anna Leonowens and her time as an English governess and teacher to the royal Siamese children. Since its publication, it has been adapted into a musical, several movies, and even a TV series. Most recently, The King and I, the musical adaptation of Landon’s work, won a 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival (you can see a montage of the play here). Landon characterized her work as around 70% fact and 30% fiction based upon fact, a lot of which she took from Anna’s own two memoirs: The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870) and The Romance of the Harem (1873). She condensed these two autobiographical works and combined the resulting information therein with facts about Siamese culture, in an attempt to give a shorter and more concise snapshot into Anna Leonowens’s life. However, it was not done as artfully as it could have been. I understand that this book is now over seventy years old, but the narrative was dry and often boring. One of the reasons Landon wanted to pursue this work is because Anna Leonowens often gave long, drawn-out accounts of the world around her. However, Landon’s version did not fare much better. There were long passages where the author would talk about events that were happening all over the world that had no relevance to the plot of the story. The whole entire story seemed to be told in a nonlinear manner. Anna and the King of Siam opens up with Anna and Louie (her son) on the Siamese steamer, the Chow Phya, heading to Siam from Singapore; after this initial chapter, there were three that outlined how Anna got to that point. This was much the flow of the book. Maybe a chapter or two of narrative in the present, then a few chapters recollecting on the past, like expounding on a story of a woman that Anna was trying to help. On top of that, there would also be letters, which I am assuming Landon found during the course of her research. However, she included so many long pieces of information that the story felt less like hers and more like she was copying and pasting from all of the information she found instead of making it uniquely her own; I understand there is only so much to be done when writing a semi-biographical story, but she could still had given it more of a unique voice. I also was not a fan of Anna Leonowens herself. She seemed too high-and-mighty for me. She was very big on helping out her fellow women – whether slaves, members of the harem, etc. – but she seemed to praise herself for it more than was necessary. She seemed to see herself as such an awesome person for “fixing” different aspects of Eastern culture. Although she was not entirely haughty, she still could have been humbler, in my opinion. Though I will admit, that is not entirely the fault of the author, since the narrative was based upon a real person. I also did not like the characterization of the King of Siam. The book spoke several times of his great accomplishments For all the things I did not like, there were some redeeming qualities of the book. It was interesting to learn about some aspects of culture of the day, even if it was not all 100% accurate. The notion of female solidarity was strong. Anna Leonowens, for all of her faults, still truly cared about the children and the women in the Harem she was charged to teach, striving them to think independently and not to be limited by the fact that they were women. She also spoke out against slavery, even as the American Civil War was occurring on the other side of the world. She took a risk by immersing herself in a culture so vastly different from her own – although she was of Welsh heritage, it is important to note that she did spend a lot of time in India and Singapore from her teens onward. For that, she should be admired. In a time when women were not given many rights, it was nice to see a strong and independent character – even if she was a flawed English woman living in Siam – taking up the narrative. I received this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I adore the long descriptions about the harem and the palace. As it comes from Anna Leonowens' journal, it gives an accurate idea of how it looked like in 1860. Now, it comes from Anna Leonowens' journal. I mean that we obviously see the life through the lenses of an European, who suffers from a massive superiority complex. I don't like her, and I hate how it reminds me of the never ending colonialism. There are too many examples throughout the book, so I'll skip this part, but be warned if you w I adore the long descriptions about the harem and the palace. As it comes from Anna Leonowens' journal, it gives an accurate idea of how it looked like in 1860. Now, it comes from Anna Leonowens' journal. I mean that we obviously see the life through the lenses of an European, who suffers from a massive superiority complex. I don't like her, and I hate how it reminds me of the never ending colonialism. There are too many examples throughout the book, so I'll skip this part, but be warned if you want to give a try.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I read this many years ago, when I was in high school and was entranced by the real story behind "The King and I."

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