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Anna and the King of Siam

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,310 ratings  ·  253 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 ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 3rd 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1943)
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kathy April 2 1851 is King Mongkut's birthday.
kathy I am about half way through and I am really enjoying it. If you have seen either the movie of King and I or one of the versions of Anna and the King…moreI am about half way through and I am really enjoying it. If you have seen either the movie of King and I or one of the versions of Anna and the King of Siam it is really neat to compare the movies and the book. It is a pretty easy read in my opinion. Enjoy!(less)

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BAM The Bibliomaniac
I had no idea this was based on a memoir. So I was quite excited to give it a shot. Then I became swallowed in the minutiae of description and filler. I think I made the right choice in audiobook with this one. I think a person interested in Siam or that area of Asia in the mid 1800s may find this book interesting; otherwise, it becomes rather flat with constant recitation of children's lessons. I'm glad I read it, but dare I say this...I think I'd rather see the movie.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A biographical retelling (with fictional bits to fill in the holes) of Anna Leonowens life. A daughter of a British military man, and spending part of her childhood in India, Anna was acquainted with many customs that may have been deemed exotic to the Western world. After school in England, and reuniting with her mother in India, who had remarried after the death of Anna's father, Anna bucked the controlling step-father and married another British military man whom her step-father felt was ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When my friend Kelsey suggested this book, I didn't expect to be so moved. I will try to gather my thoughts and write more soon.
Okay, now I can put some of this into words.
This is not an easy book to read. While it handles many situations with uncommon delicacy, many things that Anna witnessed were hard. She spent almost six years daily teaching in a haram. Slavery was everywhere; women were not valued, jealousy, false religion, and indecency of all kind abounded. People failed to treat her
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mareli Thalwitzer
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
For the full review, please visit:

In the early 1860's, Anna Leonowens, a widow with two young children, was invited to Siam (modern day Thailand) by King Mongkut who wanted her to teach his children and wives the English language and introduce them to British customs. Inspired by two memoirs written by Mrs Leonowens, Margaret Landon took the first person narratives and enhanced them with details about the Siamese people and their culture from other
Sarah Sammis
Jun 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
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 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Anna and the King of Siam started out on a really high note.

I loved the description that dripped with atmosphere, the characters were spunky and unique, and the best part was that it was based off a true story!

But then it went on. And on. And on. And ON. The description never ended and the plot never started. Since it is based on a true story, I'm not sure there is a particular plot.

It was a struggle to finish.
Laura C.
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, audiobooks
Many of them, seeing that she was not afraid to oppose the King, imagined that she had more than human powers. So not only the poor, but the highly placed ladies of the harem came to her secretly with their grievances. Without intent, she found herself set up between the oppressor and the oppressed.

Anna and the King of Siam , by Margaret Landon, was originally published in 1944 and told the story about Anna Leonowens and her time as an English governess and teacher to the royal Siamese
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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) ...more
Susan Meyer
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book

For a small bit of history of Siam, this is a good book. I don't know much about the facts, having read the preface, but for all the other information that may be true, it is truly a wonderful book.

Anna loved her husband dearly and never remarried, but I believe just a tiny bit of the movie that she and the King developed a closer bond of friendship than most friends of today. The love and devotion she had with her pupils was quite obvious, as well as the animosity between herself
"She and the King were more than ...King and governess -. they were friends"
By sally tarbox on 30 November 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
The source of the musical, this biography of Anna Leonowens, governess to the Siamese royal children, was published in 1945. The author states that she worked from Anna's own memoirs; unfortunately more recent research proves that she re-invented herself significantly through these works; thus her girlhood in Wales, her first visit to Bombay aged 15, so well
Ipat Veryinsane
Feb 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
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!!

Donald Butchko
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
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 ...more
Jun 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book.

In 1862, British governess Anna Leonowens was engaged by the King Mongkut, King of Siam, to be the governess of his children.
During the 6 years of her stay in Siam, Anna witnessed a lot, learned much about the culture, traditions, beliefs of this country, but most of all she tried to leave her mark upon the fresh minds of the princes and princesses.
During her stay also, she was almost always in opposition with King
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
Susan Jo Grassi
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The play and movie "The King and I" were adapted from this book. Anna Leonowens was a young widow who, with her son, Louis, whom she often refers to as Boy, spent five plus years in Siam, now Thailand, as teacher to King Mongkut's children and wives and "secretary" to the king himself. Many times she found herself at odds with the king and appalled by many of the ancient customs and cruelties. In later years she was gratified to be told by King Chulalongkorn, the crown prince at the time of her ...more
Vivian Adram
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Brian Eshleman
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Believe it or not, between sixth grade and 11th grade I don’t think I read one book that I didn’t have to for school. Too cool to read and all that. Then for some reason my local library for the blind sent me this book. God only knows why. But I devoured it. Within like three days. In braille. This book restarted my love of reading, and it has never stopped. I decided to read it again to see how it held up. I’m a little surprised that this book fueled my love of reading. Maybe it was just so out ...more
Fabiana Rodriguez Aguilar
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book.

I am a passionate about Asia's history, but I had a really hard time reading Anna and the King of Siam. I found the story of Anna interesting, but the book is written in some sort of small and brief stories, it feels that every chapter is a new one. It was because of this that I feel it is lacking a plot and a climax, the suspense or the emotion that keeps me turning pages. It took me almost two months to reach to
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I adore the long descriptions about the harem and the palace. As it comes from Anna Leonowens' journal, it gives an accurate idea of how it looked like in 1860.

Now, it comes from Anna Leonowens' journal. I mean that we obviously see the life through the lenses of an European, who suffers from a massive superiority complex. I don't like her, and I hate how it reminds me of the never ending colonialism. There are too many examples throughout the book, so I'll skip this part, but be warned if you
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Kim Hampton
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book as part of a book club. It's not something I would normally pick up on my own, but I really enjoyed it. The descriptions of life in Siam were vivid and interesting, and I was moved by how much Anna devoted herself to helping the women and slaves. I can't wait to see the film!
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: la, 2017-reads
The story is familiar to those who have seen The King and I. This book filled in some details about Anna's life, but it read more like a report than a novel.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Stacey Conrad
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2017
I first read this story many years, ago. I did a quick reread just before we went to see the musical. I still like it.
Michael Schmid
Jun 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the audiobook but found it the story and historical background very uninteresting...
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this many years ago, when I was in high school and was entranced by the real story behind "The King and I."
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2015 Reading Chal...: Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon 2 19 May 14, 2015 07:47AM  

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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 ...more
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