The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg – Book Review

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Moonlight-PalaceThe Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg
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.

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The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg surprised me. I didn’t think I would become so enamored with Agnes. She is a great character, full of optimism and wit, even though her situation is not the best. She tells her story and that of her family beautifully. The settings were wonderfully described. I’ve not read a book set in Singapore before, but I felt transported there through The Moonlight Palace. The author did a nice job with character development and the story flowed naturally from that. This is the first book I’ve read by the author, and I would be interested in reading more from her.


Thank you for welcoming me into your world. I thought readers might like to know what kind of heroine they’re about to meet in Agnes, from The Moonlight Palace. She calls herself a “mutt” but also a true Singaporean. She is part Chinese, part Muslim, and part British. Living in the 1920s, she considers herself a modern young woman. After some pondering, I came up with a list of 5 literary kindred spirits. I hope you love her as much as I do. –Liz Rosenberg

5 heroines a bit like Agnes
1) Anne of Green Gables—like Anne, Agnes tends to stick to her opinions—even when they are wrong. They are both orphans, both courageous, both loyal friends, and they both get into trouble with the best of intentions. I’d call them kindred spirits.
2) Elizabeth Bennett of Pride & Prejudice—Agnes is independent and clever, like Elizabeth. And like Elizabeth, she is sometimes clueless.
3) Cassandra of I Capture the Castle—both heroines are 17, living in crumbling palaces (or castles) and trying to rescue the family. Need I say more?
4) Jo of Little Women. Each heroine makes her way in the world, works to live by her wits, and is at times too headstrong for her own good.
5) Mikage Sakurai of Kitchen. Both are first person narrators who confide their hopes, dreams, passions and mistakes to the reader. No matter how many walls they hit, they always seem to bounce back with a sense of optimism and wonder.

About the Author

Liz Rosenberg, professor of English, General Literature & RhetorLiz 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.

Rating Report
Overall: four-stars


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