Tuesday, February 4, 2014

King and I


Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon is my book for A in the alphabet challenge.  It was written in 1944.  It is the story of Anna Leonowens who wrote of her experiences working in Siam for King Mongkut.

Anna was hired to teach English to the Kings children and she was promised a certain salary and a house.  She finally got her house but never received a raise in pay while working in Siam.  The book includes letters written by Anna and some by the King which were given to Ms. Landon by Miss Avis S. Fyshe who was Mrs. Leonowens' granddaughter.

It tells of slavery and the punishments given to slaves.  The palaces and royal rituals are described as trials, coronations and burials.  It seemed to me that Anna and the King liked to argue and the King really did not have a sense of time as he would call for her to write letters for him at all times of day.

This book was the basis for the musical, The King and I.  I was able to see Yul Brenner perform this at a theater and wish I had been able to take his picture when he was talking to someone he knew in the audience.  The musical is one of my favorites.  Recently, on one of the blogs that I read there was an interview with a new author who happened to sing opera and a link to her singing "Shall We Dance?" on youtube.  I also listened to "Whisle A Happy Tune" and "March of the Siamese Children."

There are some things that transfer between book and musical.  The name Tuptim wh was killed in the book, children looking under her skirt, and the fact that the woman did not wear underwear when they wore fancy dresses.  There was a friendship between Anna and the King but the real Anna was not in Siam when the King died.  His son did make changes for the good and freed his slaves and stopped cast system as it was.

The hardest part was that the book was written in wartime and the print is very small.  I had to renew it from the library in order to finish reading it and because a storm is due when the book was due.

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