In her rich and heartfelt sophomore novel, Ewen (Walk Back the Cat) bases the story line on her grandmother's life as a missionary's wife in the 1920s in what is now Thailand. Barbara is a gifted opera protégée who gives up her dreams when she marries Harvey Perkins, a medical doctor bound for Siam. Feeling stifled and afraid, she loses her comfortable Christian faith amid the rigid fundamentalism of the poverty-stricken mission in rural Nan. The couple returns home after Barbara has a nervous breakdown, but Harvey's zeal for his work soon lands them in Siam again. The love between the two is endearing, and Ewen skillfully portrays Harvey's inability to understand his wife's deepest needs and her inability to understand what drives him. Ewen's prose is laudably rich in specific and colorful detail, which becomes a problem when it slows down the pacing. Judicious cutting would have improved this overlong narrative. Barbara's questions of faith constitute the core of the book, as she struggles to define what makes up a meaningful life. Some readers will be disappointed by her final choice, while others will cheer at the ending. Ewen is a talented writer, and this is a strong addition to Christian fiction. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Moon in the Mango Treeby Pamela Binnings Ewen
Set in Siam and Europe during the 1920s, a glittering decade of change, The Moon in the Mango Tree is based upon the true story of Barbara Bond, a beautiful young opera singer from Philadelphia who is forced to choose between her fierce desire for independencea desire to create something of her own to give purpose and meaning to her lifeand a/i>… See more details below
Set in Siam and Europe during the 1920s, a glittering decade of change, The Moon in the Mango Tree is based upon the true story of Barbara Bond, a beautiful young opera singer from Philadelphia who is forced to choose between her fierce desire for independencea desire to create something of her own to give purpose and meaning to her lifeand a deep abiding love for her faithful missionary husband whose work creates a gap between them.
But when you choose between two things you love, must one be lost forever?
“Written in gorgeous prose, Pamela Binnings Ewen’s remarkable novel enthralled me like no other has for a very long time. Set in exotic Siam and pre-war Europe, this story of a young woman seeking the truth of herself captured my heart.”
Bev Marshall, author of Walking Through Shadows and Right as Rain
“The Moon in the Mango Tree is an old-fashionedI mean that in the best sensetale of love, adventure, faith, and the clash of desire and duty. The writing is wonderful, the story compelling.”
Bret Lott, author of Jewel (an Oprah's Book Club pick), editor of The Southern Review
“Lush with the detail of tropical jungles and the richness of the palaces of Siam, author Pamela Binnings Ewen takes us on a journey we hope will never end. Truly a beautifully crafted story told with music that sings still in my ears.”
Jane Kirkpatrick, author of A Mending at the Edge
“Absolutely wonderful! I couldn't put it down. I picked up The Moon in the Mango Tree with some trepidation as it wasn't the type of book I usually read. But I was immediately drawn into the story and into the life of the novel's main character, Babs. Beautifully written, authentically told, Pamela Binnings Ewen has created a compelling story that hits all the right notes.”
Erica Spindler, New York Times bestselling author of Last Known Victim and See Jane Die
"Ewen is a talented writer, and this is a strong addition to Christian fiction."
"You will have to read this one to see just how far one sometimes has to go to discover what it really is that they want in life, what will make them feel complete. A MUST READ!"
Beyond Her Book (a Publishers Weekly blog)
"An excellent book."
Set in the 1920s and inspired by a true story, this debut novel revolves around a woman who chooses the love of a man over her desire to become an opera singer. She follows her missionary doctor husband to Siam, where she discovers a greater and more meaningful passion for the people she helps.
- B&H Publishing Group
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For those of you who don't know, the purpose of a book review is to share your opinion of whether you would recommend a book to someone else. Please do not provide a summary and tell us what happens at the end. Don't ruin it for those of us who wanted to read it. Also, 'brevity is the soul of wit.'
One of my most favorite movie musicals of all time is The King and I. The remake, Anna and the King starring Jodie Foster and ChowYun Fat, is equally stunning and beautiful. These movies gave an insight to Siamese culture. Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country to never fall to European colonization. Yet missionaries flocked to the country to help to westernize and bring Christianity to the people. This book joins that list to aiding to help give an insider's look at the country. There were several female characters in this story that really irked my gut. I just hate how women always manage to find someone to put each other down, even when they are supposed to be uplifting in a dire situation. I felt so sorry for Barbara after the way she was treated especially when she had done absolutely nothing wrong. It's just sad how missionary life can make people bitter because they soon realize they cannot change the world by themselves. I disliked Harvey at first. He seemed to act like the stereotype of most men who are more career driven than family minded. I was actually quite impressed with Barbara's decision. It was very modern of her to do what she did which her suffragette background helped to influence. I thought the story was extremely well written. I really felt like I had traveled back to the 1920s with the excellent description of the time period. This is a wonderful armchair traveler as the reader becomes immersed in the Thai and European cultures. This story also has special meaning to meaning to me as my father's family is from neighboring Burma. Therefore many of the unique traditions mentioned in the story are shared by my cultural background as well. If there's a historical fiction book you read this year, it needs to be this one. HIGHLY recommended.
Not long after WWI ended, Barbara is forced to forget her dreams of being an opera diva when she marries Dr. Harvey Perkins, who informs his new bride that he is giving up his practice to serve as a medical missionary in Siam. He offers her a platitude that she will be able to sing once they settle in Siam. Frightened as she is a comfortable Christian and not a missionary, Babs objects to their relocation as she prefers they move to Chicago where the local opera has offered her a performing role. However, he rules as the husband and they head to Siam.------------------ However, not long after arrival in rural Nan, Babs is unable to adjust to the abject poverty she witnesses or the conditions of their lifestyle. Harvey is appalled with his spouse¿s failure and irate with her weakness when she suffers a nervous breakdown. Still they return to the States for her to heal, but fanatical Harvey forces them to return to his Siam practice soonest.-------------------- THE MOON IN THE MANGO TREE is a terific historical tale that allows the audience too look deeply at the role of women in society. Fascinatingly Harvey cares and loves his spouse, but is disappointed in her failure to adjust her ambition and goals are irreleverant. Babs wants to adapt as she accepts that is her position in life, but resents giving up her goals and cannot cope with what she has seen in Siam. Although the description of time and place is extremely vivid enabling the reader to feel they are in America and Siam circa 1920s that also slows down the pace of an otherwise strong early twentieth century relationship drama.--------------- Harriet Klausner