Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
  • Alternative view 1 of Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
  • Alternative view 2 of Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
  • Alternative view 3 of Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
<Previous >Next

Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home

4.3 23
by Alison Singh Gee

See All Formats & Editions

How far would you travel for love? In her sparkling memoir, journalist Alison Singh Gee learns that love, riches, and a place to call home can be found in the most unexpected places.

Alison Singh Gee was a glamorous magazine writer with a serious Jimmy Choo habit, a weakness for five-star Balinese resorts, and a reputation for dating highborn British men. Then


How far would you travel for love? In her sparkling memoir, journalist Alison Singh Gee learns that love, riches, and a place to call home can be found in the most unexpected places.

Alison Singh Gee was a glamorous magazine writer with a serious Jimmy Choo habit, a weakness for five-star Balinese resorts, and a reputation for dating highborn British men. Then she met Ajay, a charming and unassuming Indian journalist, and her world turned upside down. Traveling from her shiny, rapid-fire life in Hong Kong to Ajay's native village, Alison learns that not all is as it seems. Turns out that Ajay is a landed prince (of sorts), but his family palace is falling to pieces. Replete with plumbing issues, strange noises, and intimidating relatives, her new love's ramshackle palace, Mokimpur, is a broken-down relic in desperate need of a makeover. And Alison wonders if she can soldier on for the sake of the man who just might be her soul mate.

This modern-day fairytale, WHERE THE PEACOCKS SING, takes readers on a cross-cultural journey from the manicured gardens of Beverly Hills, to the bustling streets of Hong Kong and finally to the rural Indian countryside as Alison comes to terms with her complicated new family, leaves the modern world behind, and learns the true meaning of home.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A glamorous magazine writer trades Hong Kong for India when she marries her Prince Charming.” —Entertainment Weekly

“In her new memoir, Gee describes the changes that awaited her when she fell for an Indian journalist who turned out to be a prince – with a broken-down 100-room palace.” —People

“Gee's observations are astute. With its blend of humor, sincerity and seriousness, Gee's story easily could be Eat, Pray, Love's down-to-earth cousin, offering a unique twist on the typical tale of Westerners traveling to India to find themselves.” —LA Weekly

“While it's settings are exotic, Singh Gee's experiences of finding one's place within the family and the world at large are near-universal. Where the Peacocks Sing is a charming memoir with cross-genre appeal to fans of multicultural literature and women's fiction.” —Shelf Awareness

“Like Eat, Pray, Love but with more heart and less sulking, Gee's story of Mokimpur, India, is insightful without being pretentious. This book manages to be dazzlingly romantic and yet still very real; a unique and uplifting read that's as much about traveling to India as it is about finding happiness.” —Library Journal, starred review

“A raconteur with deadpan humor and a shining purpose. We gladly enter her ever changing advenure in India -- a glorious life of former expectations freed by the unexpected.” —Amy Tan, New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club

“Alison Singh Gee's memoir, WHERE THE PEACOCKS SING is a compelling, moving, and often hilarious account of self-discovery. A journey from the world of Hong Kong bling, to the gentrified ways of old India, it's a story that stays with you, revealing its magic a little at a time.” —Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph's House

“This enchanting memoir, which reads like a modern fairy-tale, brings radically different worlds together. And it does so in a charming, witty, and very poignant way.” —Noelle Oxenhandler, author of The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul

“Alison Singh Gee has written an expansive page-turner, masterfully braiding her poignant search for home, love and family with the vibrant, startling details of an exotic landscape. Her eloquent prose style is equal to the lusciousness of her subject, and the reader who travels with her is treated to sheer reading pleasure. This is an engaging, insightful, and supremely entertaining debut.” —Joelle Fraser, author of The Territory of Men: A Memoir

“Where the Peacocks Sing is for every woman who thought her Prince was Mr. Big and that life was a closet full of Jimmy Choos, but then realized she was hungry for something deeper. Alison Singh Gee takes us on a life-changing journey from glamorous "it" girl in bustling Hong Kong to Los Angeles and India, where nothing is as it seems, and everything a reminder that even the most waifish among us can secure the greenest of grasses, a place to call home, and a family to love.” —Kim Suneè, author of Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home

“This is a beautifully written, honest and evocative account of one woman's journey of self-discovery when her LA magazine-cover life collides with that of her aristocratic husband and his decrepit palace in rural India. Singh Gee raises fascinating questions about our relationships with property and how our dreams can shape and even sabotage our happiness. I felt like I too lived in Mokimpur by the end of it, with all its glorious sights and smells, and I got a far more interesting picture of modern rural India than can usually be gleaned through the media. Most importantly it made me think hard about what the word Home actually means.” —JoJo Moyes, author of The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel

“People say nobody changes for anyone else. Where the Peacocks Sing makes a strong case that the only thing that changes people is love. To that end Alison Gee examines her family's money demons and how they have shaped her values. And her transformation is a testament to the generosity and beauty that blossoms when you put in the effort for the right person.” —Mishna Wolff, author of I'm Down: A Memoir

“Alison elegantly and compassionately renders this curry-spiced, real-life fairy tale of an L.A. girl who dreamed of being a princess. Here, true love isn't airy-fairy, but as concrete as finding a real home to call your own--making this the most satisfying happily-ever-after I've read in a long while.” —Samantha Dunn, author of Not by Accident and Failing Paris

“There were moments while in the middle of reading that I had to look up and remember where I was, so transported was I. In her memoir, Alison Singh Gee achieves that rare distinction of making her story - as fabled and surprising as it is - entirely relatable. Gorgeously written and filled with poignant moments and characters who deserve their own stories, her book brings a crumbling Indian palace and its neighboring terrain to vivid life, and shows how anything can be transformed and healed with the right kind of love.” —Kavita Daswani, author of For Matrimonial Purposes and Lovetorn

“We need more books about our visits to other people's lands, languages, and imaginations. Alison Singh Gee gives us just that, an inside story from an outsider. Descriptive, wild, and adventurous, Where the Peacocks Sing is a global serenade to modern India, to love, and to figuring out who you are and what matters - in the most surprising ways and places.” —Rachel DeWoskin, author of Foreign Babes in Beijing

“In Where the Peacocks Sing, Alison Singh Gee takes us on a luxuriant journey of expectation. We travel with her on a sensual roller coaster, through memory and across oceans, from the suburbs of Los Angeles and the high-rises of Hong Kong to a village in India, to the place where the heart resides.” —Mei-Ling Hopgood, author of Lucky Girl

“Finally, a book that tells you what happens after you marry the Prince (and fail to appreciate his mother's cooking). Alison Singh Gee's moving, amusing memoir is a true-life, all-too-modern retelling of the classic children's fairytale, but it's also a reminder of several universal truths. First, that loving another person is the quickest way to find yourself. And second, that the longest, farthest flung journeys are often the ones that lead you straight home.” —Eleni Gage, author of North of Ithaka and Other Waters

New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Amy Tan

A raconteur with deadpan humor and a shining purpose. We gladly enter her ever changing advenure in India -- a glorious life of former expectations freed by the unexpected.
author of The Last Letter from Your Lover: A N JoJo Moyes

This is a beautifully written, honest and evocative account of one woman's journey of self-discovery when her LA magazine-cover life collides with that of her aristocratic husband and his decrepit palace in rural India. Singh Gee raises fascinating questions about our relationships with property and how our dreams can shape and even sabotage our happiness. I felt like I too lived in Mokimpur by the end of it, with all its glorious sights and smells, and I got a far more interesting picture of modern rural India than can usually be gleaned through the media. Most importantly it made me think hard about what the word Home actually means.
Library Journal
Journalist Gee left Los Angeles behind, looking for a new life abroad. When she landed in hectic Hong Kong, she lived a life of luxury, decked out in designer clothing and hobnobbing at swank parties with the rest of the city's jet set. But deep down, Gee knew something was missing, and when she met soulful fellow journalist Ajay, a correspondent from India, the sparks flew. Gee embarked on a journey she never expected—one that brought her to an Indian palace, a new family, and a much-needed reconciliation with the past. After she let the sights, sounds, and tastes of India take over, Gee was able to find an authenticity in living a more simple, humble, and full life. VERDICT Like Eat, Pray, Love but with more heart and less sulking, Gee's story of Mokimpur, India, is insightful without being pretentious. This book manages to be dazzlingly romantic and yet still very real; a unique and uplifting read that's as much about traveling to India as it is about finding happiness.—Melissa Culbertson, Homewood, IL
Kirkus Reviews
In this coming-of-age memoir, Los Angeles–based journalist Gee examines her transformation from social-climbing material girl to loving mother after falling in love with a fellow journalist. Born into a middle-class Chinese-American family, the author gleaned early on from her father's losing battle with his financially obsessed brothers that material wealth paved the way to happiness. "All my life I had gotten the message that ‘making it' meant being rich, pampered, and beautiful," she writes. So she left the States after college to pursue her dream of "making it" as a features writer in Hong Kong, where she sparkled among the glitterati while being doted on by a British fund manager. But the trappings of that "swish, fragrant existence" began to lose their luster when the author met her husband-to-be, Ajay Singh, a "kind, handsome soulful man" who, after brief workplace encounters, wooed her from his home in India through old-fashioned correspondence. Six months after moving to Hong Kong to be with Gee and their subsequent engagement, Singh revealed that his family still lived in the childhood home built by his great-grandfather at the turn of the 20th century. Though having expressed no prior interest in meeting her future in-laws, within weeks of her fiance's revelation, she sought to visit the "grand hundred-room" outside New Delhi. While much of the memoir's narrative focuses on the reconciliation of contrasting worlds as Gee strove for acceptance by the Singhs, one wonders whether the capitalistic tendencies the author slowly disavowed represent the emotional truth of the period depicted here or are merely heightened for dramatic effect. Gee provides interesting details on the changes in her outer world but not much depth or introspection on her inner growth.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 11.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Where the Peacocks Sing

A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home

By Alison Singh Gee

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2013 Alison Singh Gee
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-02837-2


Fear of Flying

I never knew peacocks could fly.

I never knew they could do much of anything. As a child growing up in Northeast Los Angeles, I only ever saw them at the botanical gardens in Pasadena or roaming the zoo. They were stunning birds, with their built-in tiaras and show-off coloring. But let's face it: They seemed pretty useless. Waddling across manicured lawns, admiring flowers, plopping their fat stomachs onto grassy patches in the shade, these pampered birds only broke a sweat when the garden groundskeeper rang the dinner bell. Peacocks were charming but relatively pointless, flashing their plumage like a socialite working her best fur and jewels, and that's all.

Or so I thought.

My understanding of peacocks was about to take a quantum leap.

I was sitting on the terrace of a palace in India. This was not some trussed-up five-star hotel in a commercialized Indian city, lousy with Patagonia-clad tourists. This was the ancestral home that had belonged to my fiancé Ajay's family for the past century, and it was the kind of regal spread you'd find in a Merchant Ivory film — huge, awe-inspiring, and vibrating with legacy. The house stood like a porcelain deity in the middle of a lush and flowering village called Mokimpur, which is also the name the Singh family gave the house. Ajay had spent much of his childhood at this magnificent residence, playing hide-and-seek in its hundred rooms, racing his village friends along the river, and jumping into the deep, cool reservoir when the summer heat became unbearable.

With its fragrant mango groves, silent skies, and choruses of songbirds and screeching parrots, Mokimpur was about as different from my hometown as the moon. Later, when I looked at a globe and placed my finger on Northern India, I realized that Ajay's tiny village sat almost literally on the opposite side of the sphere from where I grew up. But it's not like I needed a map to tell me what I already knew in my heart.

As an American journalist based in Hong Kong, my life was anything but placid, predictable, or comforting. My cell phone buzzed every two minutes; I had a half-dozen deadlines to meet every day, and a whirling social world that included lots of good friends (most of whose last names I somehow never quite learned). Hong Kong, the futuristic gateway to the East, had skyscrapers instead of trees, subway platforms instead of terraces, daredevil taxis instead of slow-moving yaks. Lunch was often a bowl of noodles eaten standing up; dinner, cocktail party hors d'oeuvres and a lethal gin and tonic. (Breakfast wasn't actually in my vocabulary — I usually jumped out of bed at the blast of the alarm clock, wriggled into a dress, strapped on some heels, and dashed out the door.) In this insanely built-up, inhumanly crowded place, where apartment towers seemingly sprang up overnight like bamboo, the locals liked to say that the national bird was the jackhammer.

Not so in Mokimpur.

It was my first week in India. Ajay and I were idling over steaming cups of chai and plates heaped with mouthwatering veg pakora, deepfried cauliflower, onions, potatoes, and carrots with a spiced, crispy coating. Three servants dressed in kurtas and loose cotton pants ferried about filling teacups and delivering fresh chutney and hot samosas. As Ajay and I lounged on the veranda, I watched dozens of wild peacocks, shrieking with glee as they glided from mango tree to neem tree, streaking the sky with their over-the-top rainbow colors.

Peacocks, not jackhammers, are the national bird of India. Here they were almost unrecognizable to me, not at all like their L.A. cousins. Indian peacocks were tenacious and fierce, agile and vocal. Roaming wild in the villages, these birds were just like the people — warriors in the primordial battle for survival. I watched them in the middle distance and shook my head. "All this time I thought they were ground dwellers," I said to Ajay. "Who knew these humongous things could jet through the trees like that?"

"This is India," Ajay said. "We do whatever we need to do to survive — if that means flying, we fly." He took a sip of his chai and tilted his head. "An Indian peacock can kill a baby cobra in thirty seconds flat. Their beaks are laser sharp. Before the snake knows what's happened, it's been sliced into a pile of sashimi." He looked dashing in his white kurta pajama suit, and worlds apart from any man I'd ever dated.

Suddenly, we heard a great flapping of wings and a thud so loud it caused us to turn in our chairs. Two peahens and a peacock had landed on the veranda ledge, a few feet from where we sat. They jumped down and, like plump gymnasts, bounded over and pranced around us. Their giant bodies wobbled on sinewy legs that looked like they'd done their share of kicking other pheasant ass. The birds turned their faces to the sky and let out a series of shrieks. I covered my ears and winced.

"What in God's name are they doing?" I asked.

"They're dancing in the sun to keep themselves warm," Ajay explained, wrapping a shatoosh around his neck. "They move around all day in packs foraging for seeds in the fields, searching for rain."

"But why are they crying like that?" I asked.

"They're not crying," Ajay said. "They're singing. They're excited because they think they hear thunder, and thunder means rain. You should hear them go at it when a jet flies overhead. They scream as if an apocalypse has come to the village."

I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor birds, because the modern world had confused their primal instincts so much. It wasn't rain that was coming whenever they heard a boom in the sky; it was just another planeload of tourists, hoping to find cheap handicrafts and an unspoiled stretch of beach on the Subcontinent. I also felt a little disheartened at my own warped intuition: What sounded to me like cries of sadness were actually shrieks of glee. Maybe modern life in the big city had confused me, too. In Hong Kong, some nights I lay awake wondering if there was any escape in the world from flashing neon signs and construction rubble.

Just as quickly as they had landed, the peacocks took off into the sky, rising swiftly above the trees, over the palace wall and into the farmland beyond. I sprang up to watch them as they flapped out of sight. Indian peacocks did not just fly. They soared.

* * *

All my life, I had been a bona fide city girl, a creature of the first world at its commercial finest. After college in California, I had gone to graduate school in London, and now I lived in Hong Kong, the Orient's Manhattan, only four times as fast. I worked as a journalist for Time Inc., jetting throughout Asia on assignment. My days began with The New York Times and a latte from the Pacific Coffee Company in Wanchai, and often ended at a crowded cocktail party in the city or at a catered dinner fete on a Chinese junk, cruising Victoria Harbour.

India was never part of my life plan. After all, it sat on the other side of the world, some nine thousand miles from Los Angeles — the chaotic, dusty, and painfully poor side, I was sure. But since I'd met Ajay, everything in my life had changed. He not only loved his native land, he belonged to it. He had an almost primal attachment to his home village and the family palace that rose from the wheat fields.

"No matter where I go, where I live, or what I become, when I come back to Mokimpur, it's home like no other place," he explained to me. "I get an inexplicable feeling of peace here. If I ever reached a breaking point in our life in Hong Kong or America I know I could return to Mokimpur and recover. I wouldn't need to do anything or talk to anyone. I would just need to stay here and reestablish my connection with the land."

I had never felt that way about any place before. Home for me was always a backdrop for chaos and pain. A place to run from, not to. Part of me admired, or maybe I should say envied, Ajay's unshakable attachment to his village. Another part of me lusted after the palace's hundred rooms and the fabulous makeover I knew I could give it. And the deepest part of me wondered if this could be my home, too.

In the days to come, I would learn that life here was about hours of silence, sipping chai and contemplating the clouds. The main events of the day were family meals, three-hour lunches that broke up only when it was time for tea. We would take afternoon ambles along the village river and eat our dinners by kerosene lamp. While the servants tidied up the kitchen, we were free to sit around talking with the family for hours or read stacks of books by candlelight, stretched out in the big four-poster wooden bed that once belonged to Ajay's great-grandfather.

While all this might sound idyllic, I truly did not know if this was what I wanted, if this could ever be what I wanted. Life here was just so drastically different from the overscheduled, underexamined existence I had gotten accustomed to living. In Mokimpur, my motor shifted to idle. In my normal life my brain threatened to explode with ideas and details and the more-than-occasional anxiety attack; here it seemed to go on strike. Now on my fourth cup of chai, I took in the scene in the fields — a row of villagers sheathed in saffron- and ruby-colored saris plucking mangoes from a shady grove. Then I turned and suddenly caught sight of my image in one of the haveli windows. Mokimpur's all-day dress code was homespun cotton kurta pajamas, but I had put on a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, suede platforms, and Kate Spade sunglasses. I laughed at my reflection. I looked like a wannabe starlet cast in the wrong destiny. My mind knew me as corporate girl, first-world chick, habitué of Philippe Starck–designed bars.

But my soul seemed to be opening itself up to some other identity. "Holy cow," I whispered to myself. My heart raced. I took off my shades and ran my hands through my shoulder-length hair.

If I were Alice falling through the looking glass, Mokimpur is where I would land. A frisson of panic coursed through me. "What exactly am I doing in this Indian village?" I muttered to Ajay.

He laughed and reached for my hand. "You're here to learn to milk cows and collect eggs from underneath hens in the coop. To wake to the chatter of wild parrots, not CNN. To taste a mango plucked straight from the tree. To learn that real meals take hours to make, not thirty seconds in the microwave." He was on a roll and he knew it. "You're here to forget about your cell phone and your Mac laptop," he continued. "Maybe you're here to learn the real rhythm of the earth. It's not staying out dancing until five in the morning, you know. That's actually when most of the villagers get up." Right on cue, a peacock landed on the terrace, shook his feathers, lifted his head, and shrieked, as if echoing Ajay's soliloquy.

I looked at Ajay quizzically, but he hadn't even registered the bird. His face was as calm and content as I'd ever seen it. So I allowed myself to wonder what Mokimpur could mean to me.

My heart told me I had arrived here for a reason. Maybe I could bring new life to the palace. And I had the feeling that Mokimpur could offer me something essential and precious in exchange. An escape from the twenty-first century? A place to call home? Or maybe the palace could send earthbound me into flight.



I didn't even know I was searching for anyone or anything when I found Ajay. Or at least I never admitted that much to myself. During my first few years in Hong Kong, I didn't have a lot to complain about. I had a great job, an eccentric, well-heeled boyfriend, and an East-West mien that got me into every club in town. "Live it up" was practically my personal mantra. I socialized with other privileged expatriates, held court over scones and jasmine tea at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and could count on one hand the number of times I had cooked myself a meal at my little flat. I was out almost every night, tottering about town on four-inch heels, fabulizing until I had to hail a cab home and flop into bed.

As a popular columnist and features writer for the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's big English-language newspaper, I juggled a full roster of sometimes adventurous, sometimes worthy, often shamelessly glamorous stories. One day I might be interviewing Gong Li on the set of her latest Beijing film or hanging out with Jackie Chan at the Peninsula Hotel. On another day, I might be following a prominent politician back to her Sichuan family village.

More relevantly, I was dating Nigel, a British fund manager who lived in a rambling flat with a view of the South China Sea. Nigel was perfect on paper: dashing, Oxford educated, and a finance whiz on his way up. He lavished me with Hermès scarves and weekends in Bali. In other words, I was set. Or so I thought.

Once the six o'clock bell rang at work, Nigel and I moved through Hong Kong as if we were living on a cruise ship, supping nightly at Felix or the China Club, or sailing on a moonlit Victoria Harbour on his firm's boat. When we met at his home after work, his Thai amah whipped up pad thai and crab curry. If it was too humid to play outside, I rollerbladed around the flat's expansive living room instead.

My closet was jam-packed with little black dresses and beaded purses. My bathroom drawers overflowed with NARS lipstick, Vamp nail polish, and hangover cures. Indeed, practically every cent I made as a journalist fueled my wardrobe and personal maintenance fund. I'm embarrassed to admit this now, but I left it to Nigel to pick up the tab for the rest of our life.

And yet I just wasn't happy.

On the rare occasion when I sat still for longer than a minute, my heart would tell me something was truly not right. Something was missing from my all too spectacular life. Something profound.

Something I could not figure out. All my life I had gotten the message that "making it" meant being rich, pampered, and beautiful — wasn't that what the pages of Vogue were all about? Oh sure, there were other images between the glossy covers, but the photographs of the enchanting, chic, and materially blessed were the ones that spoke to me. So many of the young women I knew in Hong Kong and Los Angeles basically followed the same credo, so how far wrong could I have gotten it? And yes, nights out with Nigel in this exotic city were dazzling, and I took it as an affirmation of just how successful I had become that le tout Hong Kong wanted us over for dinner or out on their Sunday junk trip.

We were rarely alone, and that was by design — both of ours, I now see. I realized that Nigel often clung to me most when his old school friends salivated over my latest Armani minidress or my Phuket Yacht Club tan. And no matter how grand a time we had had at the latest expat fete, we couldn't often share a party postmortem on the way home in the cab. By the end of the night, Nigel was often in a fog, having had his fill of the expat revelry that followed his twelve-hour workdays. We never woke before 11 A.M. on Sunday, unless, of course, there was another party to go to. Once, the "orgasm parrots" — wild cockatiels whose screams were so loud they could be heard a mile away — dared to begin their chant in the early hours. Nigel often joked that he'd send the amah outside to throw rocks at them in the trees.

It wasn't just the noisy birds that Nigel loathed. If I ever turned up to an event or dinner party looking anything less than stunning, he thought little of shooting a verbal barb my way. "You've been looking rather shabby lately, my dear," he said one night as he gave my thrown-together outfit and last year's heels a once-over. I could feel the chilly disapproval emanating from his stare. "Look at Helen," he said, as his eyes glided over to a friend of mine, turned out beautifully in a Vivienne Tam sheath and Prada heels. "Now, that's a good woman."

"How dare you," I hissed as I pushed past him and ran off. I spent the next hour in the powder room — thirty minutes bawling and then another thirty trying to repair the damage to my eye makeup. That night, I went back to my own small flat in the Chinese part of town — alone.

What can I say? Nigel and I enjoyed gossiping about other expats in our circle — who had a mistress in Shenzhen, who got the unceremonious boot from the Deacons firm, who got a botched nose job in Seoul, who picked up syphilis in Bangkok — but we never once mused about the children we would have, the home we would build, how we would look when our hair had turned gray and our magnificence had faded. At least not together.

A lasting revelation came one day after I returned home from the HMV Megastore in Central, the business district. I had picked up a Chieftains CD and stuck it in the stereo. Nigel loved the Irish band — he said their Celtic tunes transported him to the U.K. The next day, he ran down to HMV and bought his own copy. After he had gone to bed, I thought about that small act of retail glee and realized something essential. Nigel needed his own copy because, clearly, our record collections were never going to join together in holy matrimony. And neither were we.


Excerpted from Where the Peacocks Sing by Alison Singh Gee. Copyright © 2013 Alison Singh Gee. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ALISON SINGH GEE is an award-winning international journalist whose work has been translated into eight languages and has appeared in People, Vanity Fair, In Style, Marie Claire, International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. For eight years, she was a staff features writer/correspondent for People magazine. She won the 1997 Amnesty International Award for Feature Writing for her Asiaweek cover story about child prostitution in Southeast Asia. Alison lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the most charming books I have read in a while. I fell in love with the fairytale love story set in India and Hong Kong, and I learned so much about two big beautiful lovely cultures. The author seems like a fun smart woman and I enjoyed being taken (on the page any way) through these countries and through her life. The book is also laugh out loud funny which surprised me. So many things in one book. I also love how she examines the idea of what society wants us to want and what our hearts might actually want and how it is so hard to listen to the voice inside ourselves. Ultimately, that is the only way we can live and fly. I cried when I read the epilogue. Beautiful book. I recommend it to anyone who loves to travel, who loves romance, and who loves life philosophy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the humanity and scope of this book. The characters were so rich and real and funny. Each one had her/his own loopy tics and motivation, Including Alison, the author, who seems like a charming but complex person. It was lovely to move through the mad streets of Hong Kong and then into the private rooms of an Indian palace. What a delirious and delicious true-life adventure! Will read this book again for certain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone looking to vicariously enjoy meeting their unexpected soulmate and globetrotting between exotic locales of Hong King and India will find this book a delight.  But the author's story is so much more. Throughout this process, the author is forced to explore her values, ambitions and indeed the very core of her identity.  She does this with tremendous honesty and even humor, exploring her relationship with her family and, through them, the roots of her relationship of money, status and how we define our success.  Bravo to the author for crafting such a unique and vivid story, told with admirable candor and substance.  A thought-provoking, wholly entertaining read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
5.0 out of 5 stars A coming of age story with wit, wisdom and exotic locales, August 21, 2013 By Anonymous &quot;Moominsk&quot; (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home (Hardcover) I loved this book! Have you ever been in your twenties and lost? Have you ever let go of what you thought you knew to make room for deeper knowledge? Have you done it in Manolos, while maintaining a sense of humor? Alison Singh Gee has, and her at-times hilarious, at-times heartbreaking story will touch many familiar notes for people who have grown up or are growing up one bump at a time. While the experience of maturing may be common to all, how Alison does it is unique: in exotic locales, finding her way to a palace and a prince only by letting go of her desire to be a princess. I enjoyed every word of this thoughtful, playful, moving memoir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a girl, did you dream of marrying a handsome prince and who would take you to live in his palace? What might that look like in 2013? Surprisingly, author Alison Singh Gee gets to find out, and shares her tumultuous journey in this magical and compelling book.  She flees her troubled family in Los Angeles for a glamorous jet set life in Hong Kong. But the feeling of wealth and status is no match when real love blossoms between her and another journalist. Alison takes a deep and heartfelt look at her family history and relationship with money when living with her new love means watching every penny.  The tension of love and money, and what is enough, runs throughout the book. Her love turns out to be the prince with an actual palace in India; but when she arrives there, Alison discovers the palace is crumbling after decades of neglect, and a thorny pack of in-laws are not so eager to welcomer her there. No summary can give the same experience of reading this magical book, to walk through each step as Alison embraces her love, her in-laws and a new understanding of herself. I read this book while holding it over my infant daughter's sleeping head, and looked forward to every nap so I could get back to this story. Alison's writing brings you directly into each scene; the light, the smells, the people and surroundings, allowing you to feel yourself a part of each moment, feeling the surprises, shocks, discoveries, heartbreaks and joys along with her. I loved this book and strongly recommend it - I had our book club read it and they loved it as well, we had such a great discussion about it. I also gave this book to my mother-in-law who grew up in India - she now has &quot;Peacocks&quot; prominently displayed on her coffee table. She read it only a few sentences at a time, she said so loved this book she didn't want to get to the end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this modern day fairy tale--I was transported from my small town in northeast California to Hong Kong and India..it was a beautiful experience to travel with the author and to follow her journey to love. What a movie this would make!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's tempting to read this book as quickly as possible to find out what happens to the highly engaging characters. But then you may miss not only the rich ambiance of Hong Kong, India and LA's Chinatown, you may miss the layers of meaning within this tale and the depth of the characters' transformations. Beyond the entrancing love story is another journey, one where the author explores her family's past and her heritage, how notions of worldly success can blind us and what can happen if we challenge our idea of what matters in life. The concept of home and the broken-down palace were beautifully rendered and made me think about what home means to me. I loved being transported between bustling Hong Kong and rural India. But moreso, I loved the narrator's reflections on what was happening within her, to her, as she questioned everything she'd known in her life and took a leap of faith. The sensible and spiritual wisdom from her Indian fianc&eacute; was inspiring. The epic culture clash between families was something many can relate to and showed that no matter what you do for love, there are still battles ahead.  I can't recommend this book enough. It's beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Over her improbable journey that traverses faraway lands and either end of the socioeconomic stratum, Alison is forced to come to terms with a past that at once defines and haunts her. In the process, old world clashes with new, walls are erected over proud hearts and familial territory - then torn down with kindness and grit - and a home is unearthed - an unexpected home, a bewildering one at times, but a home that Alison had spent a desperate lifetime searching for. An honest, beautiful, heartaching read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK CHANGED SOMETHING IN ME. I think we all forget that traveling often has very little to do with our preconceived notions of a place. We decide to go for one reason, and usually, if we stay open, we return with something unexpected. We return a more complex, intelligent and alive version of ourselves. This is how I felt reading Alison Singh Gee's book. I found myself giving in to her writing, taking in India's countryside, her new family there, the haveli, the bright pops of color in the wheat fields, and the food. Astonishing. The book absolutely took me to India and Hong Kong. And I think the book gave me enough inspiration and courage to put aside my anxieties, and consider getting on a plane and going.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A modern day true story of a woman who chooses love over money despite a cultural background and a family that emphasizes the reverse. In doing so, she grows and develops as a woman and eventually learns her true love is a prince. His character is remarkable in that he is happy, humble and most importantly content with his life and self. The book also looks at the Indian cultural practices and the caste system. Of course, as with all fairy tales they have an "evil" sister- in-law who has a talent for creating drama whenever possible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly interesting read. The story of how an up-and-coming Chinese-American journalist falls in love with a fellow journalist from India, meets his family, visits his &quot;palace&quot;, and makes a life. Knowing little about either Hong Kong (where they meet) or India, I found the introduction to the details of exotic cultures fascinating. I did wonder, at times, how the in-laws feel about how she characterized their early meetings, since they are less than flattering. A fascinating read, highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where the Peacocks Sing is not just a book. It's an experience. Alison Singh Gee takes your hand and guides you through not only Hong Kong, India, and downtown LA, but also through her personal, emotional journey to find herself and her home. The reader is treated to a brave honest look at one woman's life and will be surprised by how much they learn about their own along with her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to realize why I was loving this book so much, other than the fact that it is a) delightful, b) hilarious, and c) filled with fascinating insight into what used to be described as Other Lands. I loved this because it reminded me of books I read as a young teenager, not because it is pitched to a young audience (or YA; ghastly marketing term) but because it speaks of an amused, sardonic, adult point of view that seems as if it could only exist between the covers of a book. Had I read this at 13, it would have made me want to write books. Now, at 61, it makes me want to have written this book. Since I can't do that, all I can do is give it my highest recommendation. And a warning -- if you meet Allison's mother-in-law, Mrs. Singh, don't fear her. She's actually, as Allison finds, pretty great.(less)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alison Singh Gee&rsquo;s Where the Peacocks Sing is a charming whirlwind of a book.  A memoir documenting her fairytale romance with the man&mdash;literally a prince&mdash;who steals her heart, it is even more intensively a meditation on identity.  On class status, cultural affiliation, national (be)longing, and what it means to interact and love across cultural divides.   Born into a large, once prominent, Chinese-American family in Southern California, Singh Gee captures the dynamic of growing up in a world of profound oppositions: culturally privileged yet economically marginal; home grown girl with cosmopolitan yearnings; sophisticated world traveler and vulnerable outsider.  Most significantly, as the narrative moves from Los Angeles, to Hong Kong, to India, the reader is exposed to a new take on the East-West divide: how Asians of the diaspora relate to a world that is simultaneously foreign and familiar, alienating and enchanting.  In the end, the memoir offers wise insights on what it means to live, follow, and ultimately make peace with one&rsquo;s dreams. 
BookcriticSS More than 1 year ago
I love a good love story and found the multi-cultural backdrop and class conflicts in "Where the Peacocks Sing" added drama/conflict/tension to the charming tale of two opposites attracting. It's a funny, engaging insightful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This glorious read by Alison Singh Gee: &quot;Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home,&quot; is without a doubt, the perfect summer read. An exotic, arm-chair journey and cross-cultural love story at it's finest:  Her true life story, filled with rich description of foreign lands is all deftly wrapped around her very modern, contemporary love story.  She describes the often rocky road of seeking familial acceptance within a new partner's family tribe. However, Gee's fascinating personal accounts are without a doubt, idiosyncratic, one-of-a kind bumps along the way, unique to most of us here on planet earth.  It is a funny, rich, moving search for self in world filled with bewildering cross cultural expectations. She explores what it means to shift from independent modern woman to one bonded with an equally independent man, yet with far less familiar or modern roots with a grace and insight.   Hers is both love story, a heady journey for identity in an ever changing world, one where a distant past finally meets a glimpses of the future through the power of true love.  However Gee's journey is one few of us will ever witness, and it is through her eloquent gift for description that we manage to be deftly carried along by her side, equally craving her delicious indian and Asian fare while losing ourselves in her elegant, aromatic love story.  Gee's first book is a fragrant, lovely and exotic gem of a memoir.  And I long for a second course!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW! Movie please! This book was dazzling, smart and funny. I couldn't put it down. I wanted to stay at that Indian palace forever. Thought about this book for days after I finished. Hope we see more from this writer. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where the Peacocks Sing by Alison Singh Gee transported me half way round the world to the exotic locales of Hong Kong and India. I was charmed by her wit and humor, and at many points found that her personal search for love, happiness, and success resonated with me deeply. The time she spent at Ajay's family palace in a quiet Northern Indian village was quite revealing of how rustic and traditional life still is on the subcontinent, and I relished the karmic lessons that Ajay often dispensed to his Chinese American fiance. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a sense of adventure and an appreciation of what it means to find true love (and make it work).
book-a-holicGK More than 1 year ago
This book has had many positive reviews with people saying that the writing is gorgeous, an absolute delight, wonderful, riveting read, etc. I disagree. Alison writes like a reporter and throws in way too many similes. There's really not much substance here; it's mostly fluff. Alison seems quite naive and shallow. Some of the stuff that she writes about India is interesting such as the Taj Mahal and the village Mokimpur and its inhabitants. I sloughed through and was happy when I finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If the author wasn't pretentious as hell, she might have had an interesting tale to tell. I wanted to learn about her travels and experience, but her attitude makes me glad I didn't spend money on her book (library check-out, luckily!).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is fascinating, even more so because it is true. However, I was sometimes frustrated with the way it was written. Singh Gee is a journalist, not a novelist, and you can tell. As a reader I don't care about precise details and dates and times- I want to know what it felt like to fall in love and move halfway across the globe. Perhaps the only way I can describe it is to tell you that Singh Gee reports to you that she fell in love rather than shows you. Nevertheless I'd say this one is worth an afternoon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was disappointing. The author came across as shallow and self-centered throughout the book. I wish I had borrowed this one from the library.