Author: Pamela Binnings Ewen
Title: The Moon in the Mango Tree
Description: This novel is based on the true story of the author’s grandmother who married a doctor and went to Siam as a missionary’s wife. Although the doctor seems to have had a calling, the protagonist, Barbara, certainly doesn’t, and is more concerned with how many parties she will be able to attend in Bangkok than any life of service. She seems horribly hurt when her husband is too busy ministering to a village with a cholera epidemic to pay her attention during the rainy season.
Review source: I received this book (signed by the author) at an ALA—not the most recent, I’m ashamed to admit.
Plot: The plot deals mainly with the conflict Barbara faces: stay with her missionary husband and be a good (but bored) wife and mother or leave him and fulfill her dreams of being an opera singer. Either way (she tries both), she’s a vain, self-centered protagonist who doesn’t seem to care about anyone except herself.
Characters: As I mentioned, Barbara is vain and selfish; the husband Harvey is busy at work so much that the reader sees him only as a husband-placeholder. The babies are too young to be characters in their own right.
Writing style: It was refreshing to read a book about missionaries that wasn’t sickeningly sweet, but this book was extreme in the other direction—I can’t think of a single character who actually displayed a believable semblance of Christian faith.
Audience: The missionary plot might fool some people into thinking this is Christian fiction, but it’s not.
Wrap-up: I can’t really think of a reason to read this book. 2/5*