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Anna and the King of Siam

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,775 Ratings  ·  186 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

Paperback, 395 pages
Published November 3rd 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1944)
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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.
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 thin
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 m ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 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
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.
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 Chapte
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) a ...more
"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 descri
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 Mongku
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 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 bac
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
In spite of the interesting subject matter, this really isn’t a very good book at all. Margaret Landon has certainly done her research but has relied too much on Anna Leonowen’s own memoir which, as I understand it, is hardly the unvarnished truth. There is some fascinating detail in the novel, for sure, some atmospheric evocations of the Siamese Court and many glimpses into contemporary life, but on the whole Anna herself comes across as unconvincing at best and imperialistic at worst, and her ...more
Jun 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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.
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.
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 children
Angie Orlando
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I knew that a book inspired both the musical and movie call The King and I. What I didn't know was that Anna was an actual person whose teachings led to major changes in Siam. This book is a novel. The author claims it is 75% fact and 25 percent fiction based on fact. At times the book seems bogged down by endless descriptions of the exotic nature of life and Siam. Of course, in 1941, when this book was written, a place like Siam was a hidden, totally unknown world of horrors and paradise. The m ...more
JoAnne Styger
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homeschool
I read this because I had my daughter (11) read it for school and I heard there were heavy themes. I'm so glad I did. The book is based on Anna Leonowenes' memoir. Her vision for her work is a powerful example to young women. She overcame the great difficulty of her husband's death and bravely became the governess to Saiam's (now Thailand) royal family. The theme of slavery is prominent and slightly graphic. I highly recommend this book for children studying Asia or US history Civil War era.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For a better understanding of the book, please see the following movies: Anna and the King of Siam, 1946 and Anna and the king 1999....
The book, may have inspired the musical however, this is not the musical.

you may also enjoy:

An English governess in a Siamese Court

Leonowens, Anna Harriette, The English Governess at the Siamese Court, Boston, Fields, Osgood and Company, 1870
Ethan Martin
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-shelf
This was a great read. The chapters on Tuptim were especially moving. I think I will read this one again someday.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this a long time ago and remember really enjoying it
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This review originally appeared on my blog, Deluded Rambling. Check there for more super cool reviews.

Well, I'm not sure where to start with this one. I guess at the beginning. Prior to this, I'd never seen the movie or musical versions of this tale, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was under the mistaken assumption that it might involve romance between Anna and the King. I couldn't have been more wrong.

This disaster of a "novel" begins with a thorough explanation of how it came into bei
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The story is interesting and a bit different from what I have known. It is good to learn what's going on in the past from both side--Thai and from foreigner. Anyway, there's still some parts that I am not sure it's not clear enough or it's just me who don't get it. For example, what's going on next with this girl? Why she just talk about her all of a sudden or have been talking a bout her, then she did something and I think she might got in trouble but the author just stop telling her story and ...more
J Aislynn d'Merricksson
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
***This book was reviewed via Netgalley***

Landon's Anna and the King of Siam is a beautiful and moving work of historical fiction based on the true story of the life of Anna Leonowens during one remarkable period in her life. Interspersed throughout the narrative are sketches, courtesy of Margaret Ayers. This novel was first published in 1944.

Anna Leonowens, recently widowed, is seeking a means of making income after the untimely death of her husband. Anna has spent nearly half her life in the O
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
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
loved it couldn't put it down
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2015 Reading Chal...: Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon 2 16 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 Richar ...more
More about Margaret Landon...

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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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