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A Woman of Angkor

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  68 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
"Pure and beautiful, she glows like the moon behind clouds." The time is the 12th Century, the place Cambodia, birthplace of the lost Angkor civilisation. In a village behind a towering stone temple lives a young woman named Sray, whom neighbors liken to the heroine of a Hindu epic. Hiding a dangerous secret, she is content with quiet obscurity, but one rainy season ...more
Paperback, 500 pages
Published 2013 by River Books (first published November 16th 2012)
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Mar 21, 2013 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Depending on what you are looking for in a book, this could be a really good book or a really disappointing book. I bought it based on the reviews on the back since I purchased it in singapore and the stores here have a nasty habit of wrapping all books in plastic so I could not read a synopsis of it or flip through it. The jacket perhaps through my own fault led me to think that this would be a story of the building of the temple and the workings of the lives of the every day workers. Although ...more
Huijia Li
Aug 24, 2013 Huijia Li rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, historical
Read this as I was visiting Cambodia and wanted to steep myself in some of the history and folklore of the Khmer Golden Age. Enjoyed how the details of everyday life in an ancient empire was re-imagined, and liked the theories posited about the building of Angkor Wat. Did not care very much about the characters however.
Nov 13, 2016 Yawtm rated it really liked it
great historical story in a geographical setting that i can relate to
Aug 13, 2014 Randy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

This first novel by former Washington Post journalist John Burgess is historically accurate and a very imaginative telling of the history of World Heritage Site Angkor.

'Pure and beautiful, she glows like the moon behind clouds.'

The time is the 12th Century, the place Cambodia, birthplace of the lost Angkor civilisation. In a village behind a towering stone temple lives a young woman named Sray, whom neighbors liken to the heroine of a Hindu epic. Hiding a dangerous secret, she is content wi

Apr 01, 2015 Maggie rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 17, 2013 Kaybee rated it liked it
I think Burgess is a good, not great, fiction writer with what seem like plausible and interesting story lines that tell you a lot about ancient Cambodia and Khmer culture, including the building of the great temple of Angkor Wat. The book is told in the first person by a woman who rises from poverty to being a talented and rich businesswoman, religious benefactor, and a spiritual woman.

Her husband is parasol maker to the king. Court politics play a large part in the story. Her son becomes the
Mary Alice
Great, unique historical novel. I never thought I would have been interested in a novel of ancient Cambodia and the building of the Temple Angkor Wat. But I couldn't put this book down.

The historical minutia was good and made the story authentic. Who knew that the ancients in southeast Asia took so many baths? And who would have imagined that the making of parasols was an important craft, and that the King's parasol master was an influential politician?

The tale is told by Sray, the "woman of An
Gopal R
Apr 06, 2016 Gopal R rated it it was amazing
John Burgess is an excellent and lively story teller. He has beautifully realised and recaptured the life during the height of the Cambodian civilization leading to the building of the Angkor Wat. Having spent a good deal of my life in South East Asia and having travelled around, experienced and enjoyed the cultural diversity that the region has to offer, some of which are abundantly Indianized, I could immerse myself very well into the story and live through the glory days of Angkor. Amazing ...more
Lupeng Jin
Apr 23, 2014 Lupeng Jin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book entirely drags my interests to this not-remote-but-strange-to-me country, Cambodia, about which I had no tiny little knowledge before. Angkor Wat, to some extent, is merely a abandoned temple to me. The fictional stories in this book not only describes its grandeur but some sort of nerve-cracking romance as well. Between the lines, I am fully aware that the delicacy of female minds in terms of life, love and lust comparing with masculine ambitions and weaknesses. I recommend this book ...more
Chris Wharton
A well-focused historical novel about a family in the royal Khmer court during the 12th-century construction of Angkor Wat. Very comprehending of the Khmer Hindi culture, religion, and governance of the time, as well as larger society beyond the court and regional history and conflicts. Very well imagined and easy reading. A bonus for me, it vividly brought things back from my Peace Corps time in a once Khmer part of Thailand.
Feb 13, 2013 Azilsah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bought this while in Cambodia and reading after visiting Angkor Wat and other temples that this book is set including Pre Tup and Trinity temple (Phnom Krom) as well as Tonle Sap..

This book adds up your historical info as it explicitly includes all details during the reign of 18th King as many other historical fiction book does.

I trully enjoyed the book being the fan of Angkor itself but somehow I feel there is no strong connection in the character interpretation.
Joyce Kirk
I read this book after a couple of days at Angkor Wat and Tonle Sap and bought it in the bookstore at Siem Reap airport. It provides interesting (fictional) insights into Khmer courtly life, the expansion of the Khmer Empire and the building of the largest religious monument on earth. The book satisfied some of my curiosity about a vanished civilisation but I doubt that I would recommend it to people who don't share this curiosity.
Lorit Queller
Aug 08, 2016 Lorit Queller rated it really liked it
I went to Cambodia and visited the temples of Angkor. I came back wanting to know more about the civilization that built those amazing buildings. This isn't the type of book that you just can't put down, but it does give you a little bit of insight into what it would have been like to live in Angkor during it's peak. I found it interesting, and exactly what I was looking for
Aug 04, 2013 Ming rated it liked it
A thoroughly intriguing story... I was relieved that the setting and people weren't exoticized. The twists and turns were clever and the author presented a credible interpretation of how Angkor Wat was built.
Iain Hudson
I was fortunate enough to visit Angkor some years back and I enjoy reading stories set in historical places. Looking forward to seeing how this develops...

A well-written story which takes one back to the time of Jayavarman and gives one a good feel for what life may have been like at the time...
Allen Wolf
Aug 28, 2013 Allen Wolf rated it it was amazing
Great historical fiction. I've been to Angkor Wat where this story unfolds. The author provides a plausible explanation for some of the mysteries of this historic site in an exciting tale. The style is reminiscent of Dan Brown's treatment of Rome and the Vatican. I couldn't put it down.
Cindy Deyo
Jul 02, 2015 Cindy Deyo rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating, uniquely written and thoroughly enjoyable book. Hated for it to end. Loved the characters, saw the country and village life through the author's eyes, and especially loved the holy elephant.
Madeline Dahlman
Seriously, unless you're a Cambodia nut, don't bother...way too tedious to read as a pleasure reader..they could have cut 200 pages and given themselves a much broader audience...longest weeks of my life
Gill Schell
A light, easy read and an enjoyable story, set in Cambodia in the 12th century during the building of Angkor Wat.
Aug 02, 2014 Shweta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its going to be more than 3 months and several books after, but I still cannot and don't think will be ever able to get over that journey of a book. Its absolutely mesmerising!
Mar 17, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolute tour-de-force. Incredible details and beautiful writing bring this ancient culture to life. If you have any interest in Cambodia, or ancient Asia at all, read this.
Sep 13, 2013 Eleon397 rated it it was amazing
A terrific tale that explains how life might have been lived in Angkor at the height of the empire. I can't wait to see the temple for myself.
Jan 07, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
Read this while in Cambodia. For the story of a woman during the 12th century, it was really interesting.
Peter Eisner
Apr 20, 2013 Peter Eisner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The saga of a Khmer family and the building of Angkor Wat a millennium ago. It is vividly told in the voice of Sray, the mother, wife and eventually patroness of the kingdom. Beautifully done.
Ann rated it liked it
Dec 14, 2013
Ari rated it did not like it
Nov 29, 2014
Douglas Eagen
Douglas Eagen rated it liked it
Mar 29, 2015
Bethany Crouch
Bethany Crouch rated it really liked it
Aug 24, 2016
Lisa rated it it was ok
Jun 29, 2014
Sam rated it really liked it
Aug 27, 2016
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John Burgess is the author of the historical novel 'A Woman of Angkor,' set in the 12th Century golden age of Cambodia’s lost Angkor civilization. The short description: She’s beautiful, she’s spiritual, she’s got a secret. The book recreates daily life in one of the world’s greatest yet least-known ancient cultures. John has written two other books as well: 'Temple in the Clouds,' a history of ...more
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