Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Moon in the Mango Tree: Promising beginning but flat in the end

The Moon in the Mango TreeThe Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed most of this book, until the letdown of the ending. It's about a suffragette/opera singer in '20s Philadelphia (Barbara), who marries a doctor (Harvey) and sacrifices her own singing career to travel with him to Siam as missionaries. It's based on the author's grandmother's own experiences.

I loved the descriptions of Barbara's life in a northern village in Siam (now Thailand) and in Bangkok, and her travels in Rome and Paris. The author made those places come alive for me.

The relationship between Barbara and Harvey was somewhat flat, though. One of the central messages of the story was Barbara's internal struggles between her desire to pursue music and her commitment to her husband. She sacrifices her singing career to move to the Far East with her husband and always wonders what could have been.

I will not give away the ending of the book, but suffice it to say that I was disappointed with the way it ended. I would have preferred more of a compromise than a sacrifice. In addition, the book's "Christian" label really came out at the ending, when it became preachy and patriotic. Ugh. I would have given it four stars until the ending!

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