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Anna and the King of Siam
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Anna and the King of Siam

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,072 ratings  ·  117 reviews

Anna Leonowens, a proper Englishwoman, was an unlikley candidate to change the course of Siamese (Thai) history. A young widow and mother, her services were engaged in the 1860's by King Mongkut of Siam to help him communicate with foreign governments and be the tutor to his children and favored concubines. Stepping off the steamer from London, Anna found herself in an exo

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Published 1949 by Pocket Books (first published 1944)
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Sarah Sammis
Anna and the King of Siam is a fictional account of an English teacher's two volume "memoir" that had long gone out of print. Margaret Landon combined these two books together into a historical novel. As there are so many points of elaboration it is hard to get any real sense of the events that might have actually taken place back in the 1860s. A quick search online will bring up numerous opinions and essays on the story in its many forms: The English Governess at the Siamese Court, The Romance ...more
Robyn
A fascinating read- I love Thailand and this was an interesting look into its past. The writing style comes across somewhat disorganized and apparently there is some dispute into the veracity of all of her claims. What did I learn from this- there are strong women all over the world who can and do make a difference. As Margaret Landon wrote of some of the Thai women "they were not surpassed by the women of any nation in the world. But the system under which they lived! That was the crux of the m ...more
Antof9
I really had no idea what to expect when I read this, knowing what I know about both the musical and the more recent movie with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat and how musicals really compare to books (I've read the book and seen on Broadway Wicked, after all).

It was really interesting to start with the preface by Margaret Landon and learn more about Anna Leonowens. It made me once again glad that I read prefaces, because it put me in the right state of mind to read this book.

One of the first thin
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Laura C.
Anna Leonowens was a real woman and this really happened, and that statement alone seems crazy when you read the book. This is a fabulous story about one woman who happened to be British when the English ruled the world. Behind the familiar story of “The King and I” (which a lone is pretty fabulous!) is the story of Anna’s determination to make the most of the situation she found herself in. It is true that the Brits bowed to no one but their queen and that attitude of “Noblese obligue” gave her ...more
Brian Eshleman
This work was extremely well done. The characters were intriguing, the atmosphere crafted in detail, and its lessons applied to life outside of its covers.

In particular, I think Anna would make a compelling heroin for older girls or young adult women. She admits fear to herself, but she refuses to let it determine her actions. She has an overriding sense of honor, but she is flexible in how she accomplishes what she sees as honorable outcomes. By putting her heroine against a real and flawed bac
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Miranda
For anyone who has watched the Rogers and Hammerstein musical and believes that they know the story of Anna Lenowens' inspiring experiences in Siam, this book will shock you to the core. "Anna and the King of Siam" chronicles the educational and political challenges faced by this English schoolteacher in a transitional time in Siamese history with uncensored brutality, hope, despair, and redemptive compassion. This is one of the most worthwhile and remarkable books I have ever had the privilege ...more
Candice
If you love Rogers and Hammerstein's "The King and I," you will love Landon's "Anna and the King of Siam." She combined two books written by Anna Leonowens with original source material from the Library of Congress to create a beautifully written account of Anna Leonowens' time in Siam.

As I read about the harem of the king and the brutal class distinction in Siam, I couldn't help but think that this book is a perfect portrait of what a society in bondage looks like. Rather than believing in the
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Panther
Oh, I loved this book to pieces. It was the first "Asia" book I read after I decide I was moving... to Asia. So when I think of it I have such great associations. When I read it, I felt like *I* was going to be like Anna Leonides (or whatever) *I* was going to be educating the king's children and combing through the street markets and telling the king's wives that snow existed (but they wouldn't believe me!) and trying to stop the king from executing one of his concubines. And then I would make ...more
Mike
In 1951 the well-known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” premiered on Broadway. The basis for the musical play is this book, published in 1944. There really was an Englishwoman who traveled with her son to Bangkok to serve as a school teacher for the many children (and some of their mothers) of the King of Siam in 1862 (he really did have a harem of concubines). Her name was Anna Leonowens. She was recently widowed (her husband had been a British officer serving in the Far East) a ...more
Jock Mcclees
If you have seen the movies, be prepared to be shocked. There are some scenes taken from the book, but the reality was much more horrific than depicted in the movies/musical.

Anna was living in India when her husband died and she took a job to work for the King of Siam (Thailand)as secretary and teacher of his children. Because of her influence with the king and through teaching his son, the future king, it could be said that she changed the course of Siamese history. The son made many modern ref
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Walter
Many people are familiar with the story of Anna and the Siamese Court from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical "The King and I." This book is what that musical was based on. It was fascinating to read about this Englishwoman's experiences in the court of Siam, and particularly her interactions with the women within the Siamese emperor's harem and his hundreds of children. This book would certainly be appropriate for anyone who likes to read about cultural interactions and the humorous things that ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
The two stars are NOT for the book. The book is wonderful, interesting, well-written (not counting some cultural stuff of the time). The two stars are for the horrible narrator. The woman could have a pleasant voice if she learned to modulate and use some expression, but she reads like a bored newsreader, or a reading machine. She does manage to infuse some expression into the dialogue, but the long descriptive passages (of which there are many) are expressionless and mechanical sounding. What a ...more
Donald Butchko
Though it was fun to see how various aspects were adapted into THE KING AND I, the book is pretty dull and tedious otherwise. In addition to supplying a more compelling linear structure, the musical improves upon the source by treating the titular king with more respect and offering Anna a chance to appreciate his strengths. Also, though its detailed descriptions of mid-19th century Siam are detailed, they're not particularly imaginative or poetic and less necessary now that we have access to ph ...more
Sharon
Great read! I'd never read the original, and am currently looking for a copy of the movie just to see how it differs. I know that I've seen the movie, and my memory leads me to believe that it's not at all the same. It's statement about slavery and the ownership of people is something I didn't expect when I began the book.
Jeff
Unlike the movies, which take great liberties and make a romantic connection between Ann and the King, this wonderful book showing the impact one person can have even in difficult and adverse circumstances. Anna's young life was full of heartbreak and sorrow, eventually landing her in Siam as tutor to the royal family. The King is angry, selfish, and arrogant. He breaks many of the promises he made to Anna and often falsely accuses Anna of wrong doings. Yet for five years this courageous woman p ...more
Andi
It's hard to really give this book a proper review. Mainly because it's a mixture of 'fiction' and 'truth'. I wanted to read this book because for many years, growing up with the musical, I yearned to know how much was taken from the book. I also wished to know the truth.

The truth of the matter (ha!) is: this book wasn't all that great.

Margaret Landon is not a very good writer; the book is sloppily formatted at times it doesn't know if it's trying to be a biography or if it's trying to be ficti
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Emily
The King and I is one of my favorite musicals and so I have long wanted to read the book on which the musical was based. I started Anna and the King of Siam several times but never got very far, but now I finally managed to finish it!

This book is written by Margaret Landon who took the two books that Anna Leonowens had written about her experiences in Siam and edited them together. She thoroughly researched the life of Anna Leonowens but she added a few fictional scenes to help the flow.

I loved
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Nicole Shelby
I always question the value of my small contribution in my sphere of influence. This book was about a woman who did the best she could to improve for good the world around her. She lived with integrity, determination and courage. Who saw the small opportunities around her and made the most of them. This book was about the few years that she lived in Siam - and was a teacher to the children and women of the King. Where she was payed very little, but did her best with the opportunities to serve th ...more
Vivi
I read this book 14 years ago. It is not written by Anna Leonowens herself but it is based on two memoirs that she wrote: The English Governess at the Siamese Court and romance of the harem. The book itself is very charming and an easier read than the two memoirs. This book are the base for most of the screen adaptation including Anna and the king of Siam (with Rex Harrison) and the latest Anna and the King (Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fat who is actually the first asian to play the king but he is ...more
Christie
First sentence: "The Siamese steamer Chow Phya , most modern of the ships plying between Singapore and Bangkok, came to anchor outside the bar at the mouth of the River Chow Phya."

Anna Leonowens is a widowed English woman living in India in the 1860s. Since losing her husband, she has struggled to provide for her two children. An opportunity arises for her to serve as governess, teaching the royal children of Siam (modern day Thailand) English and assisting their father, King Mongkut, with secr
...more
Janet
I first read this book as a young teenager, a few decades ago, and it's one of the few books from my younger years that made such an impression on me that I still remember it, having re-read it several times over the years. The name "Kralahome" still evokes a dread response in me.

Some reviewers have mentioned watching the films adapted from the book, and I remember seeing the Deborah Kerr/Yul Brynner version (I developed a huge crush on Yul), it seems to be a bland version of the book, being a
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angelle
Oct 28, 2008 angelle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to angelle by: I found a copy at the DI
Wonderful! Incredible! Captures you! I have always loved the musical, "The King and I" and when "Anna and the King" was produced, I loved it, too. Neither movie is entirely correct, but I love them anyway. There was great controversy over Anna's own book of her experiences, and it was banned in Siam. Years later Margaret Landon found the two books written by Anna Leonowens(and in her words "devoured" them) and she combined information from the first book (The English Governess at the Siamese Cou ...more
Liebes Buch
[Ausgabe des Unionsverlags 2012]
Obwohl "Der König und ich" von Margaret Landon sehr leichtfüssig geschrieben ist, musste ich das Buch immer wieder aus der Hand legen, weil ich nicht weiterlesen konnte. Ich kann kaum fassen, was ich da gelesen habe. "Anna und der König von Siam" war mir von Kindheit an ein Begriff durch die Verfilmungen mit Yul Brynner. Als ich im Vorwort erfuhr, dass diese Geschichte WAHR ist, wäre ich beinahe vom Stuhl gekippt. Margaret Landon, die selbst lange in Siam gelebt
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Dani
Having been a big fan of "The King and I," when I ran across a really old copy of this book in an antique store about 10 years ago, I nabbed it. It was waaaaaaaaaaaaay more interesting than I thought and not at all what I expected.

Put together through family interviews and the journals and letters of Anna LeonOwens, it's the real story, which is nothing much like the 3 Hollywood versions. Her experiences as teacher to the children and wives of Siam's then king were actually extremely trying and
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Rachel
Finally finished! This is one of those books that you can put down for awhile and pick back up many times. It is anecdotal enough that you can read bits and pieces in between reading other things and not feel like you forget the story.

Interesting note about my edition:
I own a first edition of this book, published in 1944. Since it was printed during WWII, there appears this disclaimer in the front of the book. "Government wartime restrictions on materials have made it essential that the amount o
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Karen
This is NOTHING like the musical, "The King and I", which is loosely based on the time the British Anna Leonowens spent in Siam, working as a teacher and clerk to the people of the royal family. Represented here are many anecdotes relating life in Siam in the 1880's and how the western culture is starting to not only clash with the local traditions but how they begin to influence each other. Anna arrives with a strong personality, which gets her into trouble with the Siamese (including the King) ...more
Linda
I'm not sure I would have given this 4 stars if I weren't just arrived back for my 2nd stint teaching English in Asia. So that's my fair warning: it may be more of a 3-starrer. It's written kind of in that lilting, old-fashioned, really straightforward narrative style, so there's no wasted atmosphere. I did have moments where I was sucked in and was like, "OOh, what will happen to this person?!" but her experiences are also *almost* like a sea of anecdotes. Almost. The author gets her point acro ...more
Miriam
this book was intriguing. I was told that it was slow and boring, and at times it was, but if you like different cultures and history you will enjoy this book. It shows what the influence of one person sticking to their beliefs and morals can do.
Anna
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It taught some wonderful lessons about courage and the good that one person can do. It was interesting to learn about the life of Anna Leonowens and the real story behind The King and I.

My one complaint is that I wish the king had played a more prominent part in the book. I really didn't feel like I got to know him very well like I did Anna. At the end of the book, when Anna leaves Siam, we are told that she realized she and the king were not just employe
...more
Charissa Dufour
FYI it is not fictional. Anna and the King of Siam is a mash up of two different books written by the original Anna, taking out some of the unnecessary description and put into chronological order.
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Margaret Landon (September 7, 1903 - December 4, 1993) was an American writer who became famous for Anna and the King of Siam, her 1944 novel of the life of Anna Leonowens. Her book on Leonowens was published in 1944 and became an instant bestseller. It eventually sold over a million copies and was published in more than twenty languages. In 1950, Mrs. Landon sold the musical play rights to Richar ...more
More about Margaret Landon...
Never Dies the Dream Anna e il re

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“He searched for words to poison the shaft of his disdain.” 2 likes
“Perhaps, she had dreamed, she would teach some future King, shaping his child mind for a new and better world.” 1 likes
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