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Anna and the King of Siam

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,510 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
The time is the 1860s, the place Siam (now Thailand), one of the few parts of Asia not colonized by a Western power. Enter Anna Leonowens, an Englishwoman engaged by King Mongkut as tutor to his children and translator for his letters to foreign leaders and diplomats. Anna's most important pupil was the young prince who became Thailand's next king. From her he learned abou ...more
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Published 1999 by Books on Tape (first published 1944)
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Sarah Sammis
Jun 21, 2007 Sarah Sammis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released
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
Jul 03, 2010 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 26, 2011 Miranda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memior-biography
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
Laura C.
Aug 20, 2009 Laura C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Sep 10, 2014 Brian Eshleman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Vivian Adram
Feb 23, 2015 Vivian Adram rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had played the tiniest part in the movie Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster & Chow Yuen Fatt as Anna and King Mongkut respectively. Further to this, the movie was shot in my hometown of Penang, where we the locals saw modern day Penang, turn into aincent Siam. It was a wonder. Besides this, Anna's husbands tomb is also found in Penang, Mr. Thomas Leonowens plus I have always loved the older silver screen version of this story; The King and I, where Yul Brynner played the role of the ...more
Jun 23, 2007 Panther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
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
Ipat Veryinsane
Feb 10, 2016 Ipat Veryinsane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ugh
This fiction is an insult to our King and our nation , I'm quite surprise that somebody still refer it as a history fiction tho.

Racist everywhere.

The King never have any romantic interest with Anna from what has been written in the historical archive , this is an image that Anna has try to proclaimed and painted. Actually she is a big liar , even try to concealed the fact that she was born mixed with Indian blood.

How can you believe a woman who tried to conceal even her true identity!!

What real
Jan 10, 2016 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was not at all what I expected, having seen both the musical and the movie starring Jodie Foster. Of course movies condense scenes and characters but...oh, it's so far from the movie it's hardly the same. There's no romance between the king and Anna (except for a brief gift of a ring that may or may not have been suggestive she join his harem), and, in fact, she is many times afraid of her life b/c of him and in the end ends up leaving due to a series of accusations that leave her in i ...more
Jock Mcclees
May 01, 2014 Jock Mcclees rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
I'll be honest, I read this because I like the musical 'The King and I'. As expected the book is so much more...there are so many enchanting stories that I was powerless to do little else but keep reading.

This is though a novel written by Margaret Landon decades ago about the life of Anna Leonowens and the books she wrote of her time in Siam in the 1860s, the writing style therefore is of an older and more usual style which took some getting use to.

The book also has chapters that seem so concern
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
Apr 19, 2011 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Hema Penmetsa
What if, as a teacher, you're given the opportunity of teaching the next generation of lawmakers and influencers in the society. What would you do with that responsibility?

Anna Leonowens, the protagonist in this book, finds herself entrusted with teaching the ways of the modern world to a brood of royal children in the harem of King Mongkut in the Thailand of 1862. The book narrates how Anna overcomes the wide chasm between her Western mindset and the idiosyncrasies and mysticism surrounding the
Simone Sylvester
Apr 09, 2015 Simone Sylvester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Simone by: my siblings
I loved this book.

My siblings kept telling me over the years to read it, because it was such a good read, I of course, watch the musical rendition of the book SEVERAL times instead. :)

The births, deaths, enslavements and freeings in this book were PERFECTLY placed to stab your heart at just the right moment, you could almost celebrate, triumph, or grieve with each character as an event took place.

Also the movie/musical was true to most parts of the story, taking bits from one person's experience
Aug 19, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Greg Kerestan
Anna Leonowens is one of the more controversial figures in trivial history. By some accounts she was an upright British subject who civilized a barbaric kingdom- by others, a self-aggrandizing con artist so intent on making her life story a matter of history that she whitewashed away her own multiracial heritage to present herself as an idealized "great white hope." Regardless, it's commonly accepted that much of "The King and I," the musical and film based on Langdon's fiction/non-fiction hybri ...more
Jan 06, 2014 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the novel, based on the non-fiction book. Which eventually became "The King and I". Each a little more removed from what actually happened.
Debra Jeakins
May 06, 2015 Debra Jeakins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the musical nor the movie of the King and I. This is the "real" story the conditions that the people, women & slaves of Siam lived in in the 1800's. Despite that I thought it was one of the most beautifully written stories . Written in 1944 it depicts the life of Anna Leonowens, mother, teacher, and British subject living and working for the King of Siam as teacher to the royal children, secretary to the King and anything else the king demanded her to do. You get the sights the s ...more
Jan 04, 2014 Andi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Kaitlin VanNahmen
Jul 10, 2015 Kaitlin VanNahmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up I watched one of the many movies about this book on a regular basis. I was interested to read the real story. Low and behold this is not the real story, but merely a representation of the real story from Anna Harriet's journals and articles and books written about her time in Siam. A very interesting story. Factual, historical, and educational for those of us who have little knowledge of Siam, it's people or government. At times it was difficult due to Siamese words and things of that ...more
Sep 15, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nicole Shelby
Oct 27, 2008 Nicole Shelby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-again
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
May 08, 2011 Vivi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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
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2015 Reading Chal...: Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon 2 15 May 14, 2015 07:47AM  
  • It's a Jungle Out There (The Rani Adventures, #1)
  • The English Governess at the Siamese Court: The True Story Behind 'The King and I'
  • The Ides of April (Roman Empire Sequence, #2)
  • In Search of Honor
  • Betsy and the Emperor
  • The Broken Blade (Pierre La Page #1)
  • Live Like a Jesus Freak: Spend Today as If It Were Your Last
  • Life with Father
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Madeleine Takes Command
  • Year of Impossible Goodbyes
  • Master Cornhill
  • Mary Jones and Her Bible
  • Stowaway
  • Daring to Live on the Edge: The Adventure of Faith and Finances
  • The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn (Samurai Detective, #1)
  • The Iron Peacock
  • The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
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
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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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