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Audie Award Nominee, Inspirational Nonfiction, 2013
Anna Leonowens, 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. It was a 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, abolishing 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 exotic 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.
This is one of my favorite childhood books. I'm so grateful this is unabridged and so well done.
We forget that at one point, slavery was not only a law of lands but a hallowed tradition in many lands. The mix of culture here is a brilliant but violent clash. The sense of this woman of one world in another could be a trip to fairy land but it is all real. all in a not very long ago. highly recommended.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Anna and the King of Siam in three words, what would they be?
What did you like best about this story?
Anna kept her wits about her when most people would of run away.
Which character – as performed by Anne Flosnik – was your favorite?
The head wife, but I can't spell her name.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Shocked at the Kings drastic mood swings.
Any additional comments?
I enjoyed the book and watched the latest movie with Jody Foster in it to get a sense of the country. The book was better at telling the story and of course explaining the characters that the movie just skimmed over.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Anna and the King of Siam the most enjoyable?
This book has the fascination of watching a train wreck. It's horrible but you can't take your eyes away from it. If you are looking for the King and I, look elsewhere. Anna Leonowens found herself in a bizarre world of sexual slavery, torture and murder. And this was done by the King.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Anna was an incredible woman who fought toe to toe with the crazed and absolute tyrant-king of Siam seeking some small measure of justice for the people crushed under this despotic regime. Forget those idiotic Hollywood movies, Anna Leonowens was appalled by the King and his brutality. She would have been repulsed by the Hollywood fantasy of her having romantic feelings towards him.
What does Anne Flosnik bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Ms. Flosnik does a commendable job reading the book and conveying the sense of the story. Her vague Asiatic accents were at times annoying but never a real distraction.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. I would listen during my commute and that was enough. The horror of what the women of the harem underwent could only be taken in small doses.
Any additional comments?
An unflinching look at the brilliant but despotic King. He was a bundle of contradictions. On one hand, he was very learned and devoured all types of books. He was a shrewd politician who manage to keep his country from being annexed by the British or the French. But on the other hand he had no compunction about torturing and burning alive a 16 year old girl who had escaped from his harem.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Amazing 'true story' journey through Siam at a truly transformational time told through the eyes of an incredible woman, Anna. Anna's fairly unique perspective for the time contributed in their own way to the birth of modern day Thailand, including the abolition of institutional slavery. Amazing insight into the customs and life style of old Siam.
Narrator took a little getting used to - odd slightly stilted over emphasized diction. Got past it in the end and enjoyed every part of the story.
All in all amazing :)
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What a joy to listen to this book - the culture is well explained and events are described in an enthralling manner.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Interesting background story on the King and I play. Well researched with a lot of personal dialogue between Anna and the Siamese Royals & support. Her position as teacher & associate secretary was important in the transition of the country at a pivotal time when slavery was waning worldwide and at the onset of the evolution of women's role in society was being reconsidered.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I've loved 'the king and I' since a kid. I don't know why it took so long for me to read/listen this book. so much more interesting then the two movie adaptations. who knew there were women soldiers in Siam? etc etc etc
it was an educational storyline. i love the musical, but this out bests the movie as you learn about the true Anna.
A must to anyone who loves "the king and i"
I have always loved the story of Anna and the King. This was a refreshing change from the romance of the other versions I have enjoyed. The book appears to have been well researched. I really loved the historical references and timeline. The rights of individuals, especially privileged women and their attitudes was far different from that presented elsewhere.
The narration was precise and smooth. I found myself changing some speaking habits I had become lazy about.
Wonderful experience, will definitely be listening again.