The Moonlight Palace, by Liz Rosenberg – Review

About the book, The Moonlight Palace The Moonlight Palace

Paperback: 174 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (October 1, 2014)

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.

Buy, read, and discuss The Moonlight Palace

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About the author, Liz Rosenberg Liz Rosenberg

Liz Rosenberg is the author of more than thirty award-winning books, including novels and nonfiction for adults, poetry collections, and books for young readers. She has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Paterson Prize, the Bank Street Award, the Center for the Book Award, and a Fulbright fellowship in Northern Ireland in 2014. She is a professor of English and creative writing at Binghamton University, in upstate New York, where she has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has guest-taught all over the United States and abroad, and has written a book column for the Boston Globe for the past twenty-five years. Her previous novels, Home Repair and The Laws of Gravity, have been bestsellers in the United States, Europe, and Canada. She and her husband, David, were raised on Long Island, and went to the same summer camp at ages seven and eight, respectively.

My Thoughts

TLC Book Tours provided me with a copy of The Moonlight Palace via NetGalley, which meant the version I was reading was an uncorrected proof. Some of the punctuation and capitalization hadn’t yet been standardized in the ebook I had, but rather than finding it annoying, I actually think it lended to the otherness that pervaded the novel.

Rosenberg’s writing in this novel is lyrical, as if we’re seeing Agnes, her family, and the boarders in their once-grand (and now putting the ‘shabby’ in ‘shabby chic’) home, through a gauze filter and soft pink light. I got the sense that she was being meticulous with her word choices, because once I started reading The Moonlight Palace, I was completely absorbed.

Agnes, of course, is a wonderful character, and we get to experience her coming of age in a way that makes us realize how jaded we Westerners can be, at times, while also appreciating how very lucky most of us are. I’m not certain that the author meant her book to force readers to confront their inherent privilege, or if it’s just that’s that where my own consciousness was when I was reading it. I think it’s possibly a little of both.

But political and cultural awareness aside, what Rosenberg has done is give us something that could have been a Singaporean version of Tales of the City or Grey Gardens (and yes, I’m aware of how vastly different those two works are), and instead, has woven a tale that puts us in the middle of the same sights and sounds that Agnes experiences, with her perspective to aid our understanding.

The Moonlight Palace is a wonderful novel, and it will draw you in, and keep you there, until it finally releases you to go hunt down a warm meal and a hot cup of tea.

Goes well with Coconut curry chicken and strong black tea.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Monday, October 6th: Reading Reality

Monday, October 6th: Great Imaginations

Tuesday, October 7th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, October 8th:  Savvy Verse and Wit

Thursday, October 9th:  A Bookish Way of Life

Friday, October 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, October 13th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, October 14th: Book Dilettante

Wednesday, October 15th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, October 16th: Brooke Blogs

Friday, October 17th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Monday, October 20th: The Whimsical Cottage

Tuesday, October 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, October 22nd: BookNAround

Thursday, October 23rd: Broken Teepee

Friday, October 24th: Wensend

Monday, October 27th: Books on the Table

Tuesday, October 28th: Missris

Wednesday, October 29th: Time 2 Read

Thursday, October 30th: Kahakai Kitchen

Date TBD: Lavish Bookshelf

2 thoughts on “The Moonlight Palace, by Liz Rosenberg – Review

  1. Pingback: Liz Rosenberg, author of The Moonlight Palace, on tour October 2014 | TLC Book Tours

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