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I loved this story of the heirs to the last sultan of Singapore and the palace Kampong Glam, which I knew nothing about until I listened to The Moonlight Palace. Impressionable Agnes, the 17 year old the last heir to the estate, is both naive and brave. Her telling of life in the palace and of both sets of grandparents (upstairs and downstairs) is touching, funny, and the substance of the woman she will become. Historical fiction at its best
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I listened to the sample and was drawn in so completely, that I had to have the full audiobook. This was a "coming of age" story for a young woman who was the last of a formerly royal family in the Singapore of the 1920s. All the nuances of the multicultural mishmash of Singapore came shining through the story of this girl who was part Singapore Muslim, part Chinese, and part English. When the story opens, Agnes is 17 years old, in her final year of high school, and living with Great Uncle Chachi (Singaporean), English Grandfather, and Chinese Grandmother - who is known as Nei-Nei Down because she and English Grandfather live in the downstairs of the family's crumbling palace home.
The palace the family lives in is the source of the name of the book. The story revolves ostensibly around "how to keep the palace, and how to keep it livable", while really in my opinion it is the story of Agnes transitioning from impetuous school girl to competent young woman.
I wish I had a Nei-Nei like Nei-Nei Down, and a Great Uncle like Uncle Chachi, and a best friend like Agnes's best friend(s). This was an absolute jewel of a story, that had very little plot or purpose other than to follow Agnes on her journey through life in that last year between childhood and adult.
It was spectacularly narrated - the first I have heard with Amy McFadden - and it may have spoiled me for this narrator for she will forever be Agnes to my ears.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful