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

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  890 ratings  ·  297 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 secretary...more
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2012)
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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...more
Julie Davis
his 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, because she lived in America, Peggy sees her home town through new eyes. Just thinking about the 7,000 people she will lead, she flashes on the children carrying buckets of dirty b...more
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...more
Julie Graves
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...more
Linda Nichols
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
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...more
NancyL Luckey
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
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
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...more
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
Sally Hanan
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
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
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
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 03, 2012 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars 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
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...more
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
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...more
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
Esther May
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
I've been reading up on Ghana because my daughter is probably going to do a study-abroad program there this summer. This gave me a lot of insight into the culture and religious practices in the country. It also gave me insight into the culture of corruption and bribery. Peggy is very inspiring. She came to Des Moines last year (or year before) as part of the Smart Talk program and I wasn't able to go see her, unfortunately. Her top priority was stopping the corruption of the elders taking the to...more
Want to be inspired while laughing aloud? Then, read this book. It is amazing how Peggy evolved form a bit of a loner working in the ambassador's office in Washington, D.C., to a full-fledged King in her own right. You will be humbled and amazed to witness Peggy's determination and faith as she builds a better community, step-by-step, while illustrating the people/problems she encounters. Highly Recommended!
Tami Vogel
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.
King Peggy provides a look into the everyday tribulations faced by remote African villages. It was entertaining (and of course, disturbing) to read about the rampant corruption condoned by the 'leaders' of her village. In the end one is left knowing the importance of strong leadership...along with aid money from the West. While Peggie succeeds in emphasizing that she has duel roles, that of secretary and that of king, I would have liked her to comment on her immediate acceptance of all tradition...more
After finishing this, I just have one question: HOW IS THIS NOT A MOVIE?!


Anyway, the title for this pretty much explains what this memoir is about. It's about Peggy, who becomes kind of Otuam, and how she changes the village for the better. She's quite the character, and I found myself rooting for Peggy within three minutes of starting the audio book.

I don't want to reveal too much, since half the fun of this book is going through the twists and turns of Peggy's adventures in Otuam, but I...more
A warm, funny look at how Peggy Bartels' life changes when she finds out her uncle, the king of the Ghanaian village of Otuam, has died and she has been chosen as his successor.

I came away from this story having a lot of respect and admiration for Peggy, though sometimes it was hard to reconcile her contention that she doesn't suffer fools gladly with the amount of time it takes her to realize the level of corruption that has been going on in the town. Corruption among elderly men in a small Af...more
King Peggy is not a book I normally would have chosen since I tend more toward fiction. But I am so glad I chose it from the Bookbrowse First Impressions program, drawn toward the comparison of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. For sure King Peggy shares the African locale, featuring a cast of whimsical characters living in often harsh conditions. And like No. 1 Ladies', King Peggy shares a compelling, forceful protagonist with one major exception -- Peggielene Bartels, aka King Peggy, is very...more
Peggy Bartels is working as a secretary to the Ambassador from Ghana in Washington D.C. when she receives a phone call that changes her life forever. Her uncle, who was King of a small fishing village on the coast of Ghana had passed away and the ancestors had chosen Peggy to be the next King. After a few days to get used to the idea, she agrees to accept it and travels to Otuam for the coronation (enstoolment) ceremony. Returning to her job in the States, she maintains regular contact with her...more
This is one of those stories you couldn't have made up if you tried. Peggy is a secretary for the Ghana embassy living in Washington DC when she gets a call in the middle of the night telling her that her uncle, the king of her village of 7,000 people, has died. The new king? It's her.

Peggy flies to her village and discovers a town without running water, a royal palace crumbling in disrepair, and her treasury dried up. With her own money she starts to make repairs to the palace and starts trying...more
This is the story of Peggy Bartels, a woman born in Ghana who became an American citizen. She becomes the King of Otuam, a village in Ghana. The elders of the town think they can continue to steal from the people and create havoc because Peggy is a woman and she lives in America. Becoming king is not easy; it requires great sacrifice, but Peggy works hard to bring clean water, better education and better health care to her village and to improve her council of elders. She gets help along the way...more
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Anne Arundel Coun...: King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman 26 61 Oct 10, 2013 01:14PM  
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