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King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village
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King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,815 Ratings  ·  471 Reviews
The charming real-life fairy tale of an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king of an impoverished fishing village on the west coast of Africa. King Peggy has the sweetness and quirkiness of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and the hopeful sense of possibility of Half the Sky.
King Peggy chronicles the astonishing journey of an American secretar
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2012)
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Julie Davis
Dec 29, 2012 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listening to the audiobook while I'm on the road. I simply love this book and it is perfect as a relaxing yet interesting audiobook. My original review is below.


This is going on my 2013 Best list.

A native Ghanan, Peggy was working at the Ghanan embassy in Washington D.C. when she got the call that her uncle, the king of their village, has dies and that she was chosen the next king. This was really unusual because women were not usually kings.

What is fascinating to me is that, becaus
Jan 03, 2012 Rosemarie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, reviewed
Who died and made you king?
My sibs and I used to jeer that at each other when one of us was getting too big for his britches; but it actually happened to Peggielene Bartels, naturalized American and secretary at the Ghanian embassy in Washington. Unknown to her, she was the chosen heir of her Uncle Joseph, king of the Ghanian fishing village of Otuam. The omens consulted by the elders had confirmed his unusual choice.

Uncle Joseph, though a king, had not been a wealthy man, so Peggielene had for
Five-star story with -- at best -- three-star writing.

The cover copy is a little misleading -- King Peggy is an American secretary, yes, but one who was born and raised in Ghana. The choice of her as king was certainly unusual, and unexpected, but not so far off course as one might think from reading the flap.

But that's a minor quibble. What kills me is how badly this story was handled. Oh, it's absolutely fascinating, and on that level I highly recommend it -- King Peggy's strength and characte
a ghana woman working in usa returns to her town in and takes of as king, as the leader, she uses her experiences in usa to trasmit visions of improvement for her home town folks, clean water from wells, health care, education... in this autobiography, which i listened to on cd, she blends her ideas of jesus god, traditional ghana wisdom philosophy, and usa technocracy ideas to lead in a different way in her hometown. not with old boy cronyism, bribes, or pitifulness, but with hope, cooperativen ...more
This is nonfiction about a woman who became King of a small African village in Ghana, but it read so much like fiction. I listened to the audio and I think it was reminiscent to some of Alexander McCall Smith's books (the #1 Ladies Detective Agency) because it was the same mindset and the same pronunciations.

I enjoyed this. It was interesting getting to know Peggy and following her journey from being an American secretary to being a King. She had her work cut out for her because it always seems
Tami Vogel
Feb 25, 2012 Tami Vogel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Some nonfiction is best experienced through newsprint; this is a prime example. Yes, the story is fascinating, but the actual book is not. No eloquence, overly simple text is maddening to read. Quite disappointing considering the promising topic.
Jun 09, 2012 Shomeret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews, memoir
Peggy is well-intentioned and admirable. The ancestors could not have found a better King for this village. Being an American citizen and an embassy employee gave her valuable contacts that allowed her to make improvements. Being Ghanaian by birth and upbringing plus having come from this village allowed her to fit into the cultural matrix.

I had my doubts about the presence of Shiloh Baptist Church. I thought that they would be intolerant toward the traditional native religious practices, but t
Imagine: You are a secretary, sound asleep in your Washington DC condo at 4 AM when the phone rings. It's your long-lost cousin in Ghana telling you that the ancestors have just made you king of your ancestral community on the Ghanaian coast. What do you do? If you Peggielene Bartels, you think about it for a few days, and then jump in with both feet. Her story is really amazing. I found myself more and more engaged as I turned the pages. Peggy busts through ne'er-do-well relatives and neighbors ...more
Esther May
Oct 01, 2012 Esther May rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I think the story of this book was rather interesting. She seems like a great person who was thrown into a situation where she could make a difference and she did. The reason why I did not rate this book very well, was that I could not stand the writing. There were redundancies, too much detail, and I believed that the author did not trust her audience. She had to tell something, then explain it and then question about it and then conclude about it. Over and over again. I was pretty excited to b ...more
Julie Graves
Jan 12, 2012 Julie Graves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
Peggy is a secretary at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington D.C. When she receives a phone call at 4:00am from her home town of Otuam in Ghana telling her that she is their new king. She thinks that the person is joking, but they are not, she truly is the new King.

When Peggy arrives in Otuam she finds that her town is poor. Children have to walk for miles to get drinking water for their families. Not many get to go to school because of the expense. She also finds the palace in shambles. It turns
Aug 27, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How would you react if the telephone rang in the middle of the night and a long-lost cousin told you, "Congratulations! You've just been elected king!"?

King Peggy tells the tale of what Peggielene Bartels, a secretary at the Ghanaian embassy in Washington, D.C., did when she received that phone call. The book is very personal and Bartels, it's author (with help), allows us into her life before her kingship, her thoughts, and her decisions. She's a real person. One to whom all of us can relate. T
May 25, 2013 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
a good read about a real life woman who became king of her small province in Ghana. A few years ago, Peggielene Bartels was a secretary in Washington DC. when she received a phone call from relatives that she has been named King on Otuam. the former king has just died and he was "in the refrigerator" she became king of a town of about 7,000 residents. Peggy had a long road of problems when she arrived in Otuam. the Castle was in shambles, no money for the funeral for the former running ...more
Linda Nichols
Jun 18, 2012 Linda Nichols rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent! It reads like a fairy tale, but it's true! Peggy Bartels dealt with unbelievable obstructionism from her elders and her deceased uncle's family to bring change to her small village. Chosen king by her ancestors, she rules Otuam, Ghana, from her home in Silver Spring, Maryland, and travels to Otuam once a year. I believe she plans to move there when she retires from her job at the Ghanaian embassy. She has paid for the renovation of the crumbling palace and the funeral of her uncle, ...more
love the readers voice: warm, friendly, kind, strong, full and compelling.

wow, I've got to say after reading this that Africa is...another Continent entirely. Their spirituality is quirky. She states in the book, in Africa when you curse someone, they are dead the next day, but in America where there are no Gods that are prayed to, a person keeps living.

The male elders are wicked and just like petulent kids, she makes you grateful you were not named King!!

Inspirational, good hearted and entertai
NancyL Luckey
Nov 26, 2011 NancyL Luckey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an uplifting book about the village of Otuam and it's king - Peggy Bartels. Although she has been chosen to be king in Africa, she still works at the Ghanan embassy in Washington as a secretary who uses whatever she has to improve conditions in her village. The elders in her council are used to stealing, drinking, and carousing without limits - and think they can control Peggy because she is a woman who lives in America. When Peggy comes to power, she thinks only of improving her country by ...more
May 17, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peggielene Bartels, you are amazing!! Anyone who needs to find something inspiring and positive in their lives -- and isn't that all of us? -- should definitely pick up this book. Poring over its pages, I gained a new appreciation for Ghana, for people of other cultures and belief systems, as well as for my own. King Peggy's dogged persistence in the face of adversity, as well as her humility and gratitude towards God and her ancestors for the blessings that she has in her life truly touched my ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Just about everyone!
Recommended to Lori by: Books on the Nightstand
The subtitle of this book pretty much says it all; An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village. I enjoyed this book more than I can say. I had a very difficult time putting it down. I was completely enthralled by the story of Peggielene Bartels, an American secretary at the Ghanian embassy in Washington, D.C. who receives a phone call from a distant relative in Ghana informing her that she has just been elected "King." I've had a fascin ...more
Did not finish. Page 71.

I cannot read another page of this book. I'm in the minority on this one. Hold on to your hat. It's not gonna be pretty.

While the story of King Peggy herself is amazing, holy sh*t, this co-author, Eleanor Herman, is abysmal. That's right, ABYSMAL. Her light-humored, middle-school writing vacuumed all the air out of this otherwise important and uplifting story. I demand this book be re-written by someone else.

The story is undoubtedly a 5. This version is a 2, and should ha
Overall a very enjoyable story. You truly feel like you know the village of Otuam, and cheer for even Peggy's smallest victory. There were a couple of things in the book that soured my enjoyment, however. First, while I can appreciate Peggy's frustration with the patriarchal culture of Ghana, I felt the book's treatment of men bordered on misandry. There are several just, kind men in Peggy's circle--her boss, the Ghanaian ambassador; her brother, Papa Warrior; her cousin Nana Kwesi--but their pr ...more
Sally Hanan
Jan 04, 2014 Sally Hanan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I like to leave a book review for a few weeks to reflect on my takeaway and to see if the book impacted me. This book is a keeper. Peggy's writer manages to give the reader descriptive insight into Peggy as she moves from the role of personal assistant to that of king of a town. Between the realistic drudgery of a 9-5 job and living alone to traveling to her childhood home and finding out, week by week, that it's difficult to find at least one person to trust, it would seem that the bo ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Melitta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
A fun and interesting read. The true story of a Ghanaian woman working in DC who is chosen to be "King", or chief of a village of 7000 people. This is a powerful story of how against all odds, a woman can succeed. She was essentially chosen because the elders of the villages (all men) thought they would be able to continue their corrupt practices since Peggy would be mainly in Washington DC. Never underestimate the strength of character of women! Even though she works as a secretary, and lives h ...more
Apr 05, 2012 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems a cliche to say that this was an inspiring story. It was. King Peggy is on a mission to change the lives of her people and stomp out the corruption in her council of elders. Her job seems impossible, she has no experience, no funds, no infrastructure and a government plagued with corruption, yet she keeps moving forward with her mission. I was really impressed by her courage and wisdom. I was caught up in her struggles, angry and frustrated at the selfish greed of the town elders, and i ...more
May 06, 2012 Msladydeborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing I want to say about this book is very simple. This is not a fairy tale by a long shot!

King Peggy is an amazing story about how a set of events in her bloodline moves her from out of her comfort zone in the United States and hurls her into the position of King.

One of the reasons why I refute the notion that this is a fairy tale type story is very simple. King Peggy is apologetically African and American. She stepped into a position of power just on her own merit. There is no resc
Tama Filipas
May 14, 2013 Tama Filipas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I wasn't terribly excited to start this book--no good reason, just wasn't in the mood, but I had to read it for my book club, and so I did. Holy crap, I loved it! About half way through is where it became un-put-downable, and I was holding it open with kitchen utensils so I could read while I made my son's lunch.

A strong woman is a force to be reckoned with, and Peggy is a Force. She got to Ghana and was kicking butt and taking names of all the people stealing her beloved home vil
This book could have been amazing. It's a real story that reads like fiction, with an amazing, admirable heroine, corruption, intrigue, and all the elements to make a fantastic book. Unfortunately, the writing is so basic and workmanlike that it brings the whole story down. The book reads like it was written for elementary schoolers, which makes it hard to appreciate the very serious events and the strong woman at the heart of them. I'd love to see more written about King Peggy, from a writer mo ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Dee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i was disappointed with this, first off - the book said written by Peggy with Eleanor Herman - but it felt so detached and not personable - i would have expected since she was writing her autobiography that it would have been in first person, but it was in third (King Peggy did this etc)...and secondly, i hated all her elders and the way that they treated her - until the very end...

narration was good and i learnt some new stuff about ghana, but overall a disappointment
Renee Hall
Jun 29, 2012 Renee Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book full of both strength and humor, as well as a fascinating glimpse of Ghanaian culture. I loved rooting for King Peggy through every challenge (and there are many), and I was sorry when the book ended, because I wanted to go on reading about her accomplishments in her village and beyond. Highly recommended.
May 23, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I really wanted to give this book three stars because it is such an amazing story, but I just didn't like the actual book enough. It was too long and focused on things that were just plain boring. I'm glad I read it to learn this woman's amazing story, but didn't necessarily enjoy the book.
April Lashbrook
Jun 05, 2014 April Lashbrook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed learning about Ghanaian culture and how Peggy stopped the corruption in Otuame. Very inspiring!
Jenn LeBow
Jul 20, 2012 Jenn LeBow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The three books I’m sharing with you today are stories of women faced with enormous challenges and finding the strength to achieve their dreams despite the daunting odds.

King Peggy - Eleanor Herman and Peggielene Bartels

Ghanaian native and naturalized U.S. citizen Peggielene Bartels, at home in her Washington, D.C. apartment, received a telephone call she’d never dreamed of one night. She’d been chosen by the ancestors of Otuam, Ghana, to be their king. The story of King Peggy, who is the third
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Anne Arundel Coun...: King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman 26 96 Oct 10, 2013 01:14PM  
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“Help me, Mother,' Peggy said, and tears came to her eyes as they always did when she spoke to her, because she would never get over the emptiness of a world that no longer held her mother.” 5 likes
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