Wednesday, October 15, 2014

G444 Book Review of The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

Name of Book: The Moonlight Palace

Author: Liz Rosenberg

ISBN: 9781477824429

Publisher: Lake Union

Type of book: 1920s, Singapore, secular Muslim, royal family, genteel poverty, Asia, naive, coming-of-age, growing up, changes, trying to save the past vs letting it go, death, life, holidays

Year it was published: 2014


Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic 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, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.


Okay, my favorite characters have to be Agnes's British grandfather as well as Nei-Nei Down, his Chinese wife if I'm not mistaken. Agnes's character isn't well drawn out in my opinion, and I feel that I don't get to know her well as I wish, also the countless proposals or loves seem too good to be true. British Grandfather sounds like a likable and a very complex man who seems to be kind of lonely among the family due to the background and religion as well as the fact he went through an interracial marriage when it was forbidden. Nei-Nei Down is good at spotting shady people, is very tough and it seems that kind gestures do not touch her heart. (Any chance of a prequel between the British Grandfather and Nei-Nei Down? That would be something cool to read about.)


There can be a compromise when it comes to change


The story is written in first personal narrative from Agnes's point of view. For me personally there seemed to be lack of tension in the story as well as conflict. It should have been obvious that Agnes is struggling with sameness vs change, but there doesn't seem lack of desperation, and the few interesting plots that cropped up in the story were ignored, at least for me. The story seems to have a relaxed sort of atmosphere and a lot is told about Singapore and Agnes's family, but I really did want to know what was real and what was invented.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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Liz Rosenberg, professor of English, General Literature & RhetorAbout Liz Rosenburg

Liz Rosenberg is the author of more than thirty award-winning books, including novels and nonfiction for adults, poetry collections, and books for young readers. She has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Paterson Prize, the Bank Street Award, the Center for the Book Award, and a Fulbright fellowship in Northern Ireland in 2014. She is a professor of English and creative writing at Binghamton University, in upstate New York, where she has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has guest-taught all over the United States and abroad, and has written a book column for the Boston Globe for the past twenty-five years. Her previous novels, Home Repair and The Laws of Gravity, have been bestsellers in the United States, Europe, and Canada. She and her husband, David, were raised on Long Island, and went to the same summer camp at ages seven and eight, respectively.


Okay, first of all the good points of the book: I like that it takes place somewhere not well known, after all I doubt many people know or aware of Singaporean history. If any know anything about Asian history its either China, Japan or perhaps Korea or Philippines, which leaves other countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Laos and others in the figurative dust. I also liked learning about the 1920s Singapore as well as the Muslim history, culture and presence in Singapore. What may be the drawback of the story is lack of tension and that there seemed to be lack of conflict. The story struck me as sort of everyday life of 1920s Singapore rather than something gripping. Also, the fact that Agnes seemed to receive quite a lot of marriage proposals is a bit unbelievable for me. And the beginning is written in an old fashioned way while my personal preference is to go through the story and learn little by little about the characters. (Agnes introduces her family and their habits right in beginning of the story which presents a difficulty with me.)

This is for TLC Book Tour

bestsellers in the United States, Europe, and Canada. She and her husband, David, were raised on Long Island, and went to the same summer camp at ages seven and eight, respectively.

Liz Rosenburg’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 6th: Reading Reality
Monday, October 6th: Great Imaginations
Tuesday, October 7th: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, October 8th:  Savvy Verse and Wit
Thursday, October 9th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, October 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, October 13th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, October 14th: Book Dilettante
Wednesday, October 15th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, October 16th: Brooke Blogs
Friday, October 17th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Monday, October 20th: The Whimsical Cottage
Tuesday, October 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, October 22nd: BookNAround
Thursday, October 23rd: Broken Teepee
Friday, October 24th: Wensend
Monday, October 27th: Books on the Table
Tuesday, October 28th: Missris
Wednesday, October 29th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, October 30th: Kahakai Kitchen
Date TBD: Lavish Bookshelf
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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