Author: Kukrit Pramoj
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Summary: This was very long and not much happened, but it did provide an interesting glimpse of another culture.
“This English version of the Thai novel Si Phaendin tells the rich and entertaining story of one woman’s life both inside and outside the royal palace in Bangkok. Spanning a period of four reigns, from King Chulalongkorn to the reign of his grandson King Ananda, this popular modern classic gives insight into the social and political issues facing Thailand from the 1890s through the turbulent years of World War II.” (source)
I picked this book up hoping to learn more about Thailand and it was pretty perfect for that. The main character, Phloi, grows up serving in the palace, so I learned about both domestic life as a woman in Thailand and the Thai political landscape. Unfortunately nothing terribly exciting happened in Phloi’s life or in Thai politics for the first 400 pages. There were some big events in Phloi’s life, but she was a bit of a Mary Sue and her life presented few challenges. Any interest I had in the book was due almost exclusively to the setting.
In the remaining 200 pages, WWI, WWII, and an internal revolution all happen, drastically shaking up the political landscape. Phloi’s family is divided as different members support different factions of the Thai government. This was the most eventful part of the book and by far my favorite. Throughout the book, Phloi’s story was a perfect choice to teach the reader about Thailand and I thought it was clever the way her home life paralleled events in Thai politics. However, I’d much rather have had a character with a consistently exciting life to get me through the uneventful parts of Thai history!