Saturday, October 10, 2009

BEEtween the Pages: The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen

"When we arrived at the end of the year 1919, Siam was laughter, music, color. Many years later I fled the country and the rage of darkness that howled within me. This is our story, my child - Harvey's and mine. These are the years that you can't recall. Sift for the truth. But look to light and learn what those fireflies taught, what draws the moth to the flame and flowers to the sun. It is this that I want you to know: Darkness is only the absence of light."

~Excerpt from The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen~

The Moon in the Mango Tree tells the tale of a woman's journeys from Philadelphia to Siam, Paris, and Rome and her search for a distinct purpose in her life. As a newlywed in 1919, Barbara Perkins sets aside her dreams of being a singer to follow her husband, Harvey, to the mission fields in Siam. Stationed at a post off the beaten path, she struggles to conform to the protocols and mindsets of the region's Christian missionaries and to understand Harvey's passion for serving the Siam people as a physician. Demoralized and frightened after a series of events at the isolated post, Barbara loses faith in Christianity and questions Harvey's love for her. Soon she finds herself torn between her deep love for her husband and children and her yearning to pursue her dream of being a singer.

Within the first few pages of this book, I was drawn into Ewen's exquisite prose. Her beautifully crafted scenes, landscapes, and characters blossom into a rich story that enchanted me from the beginning to the end. Although the story slowed somewhat during Barbara's journeys from Paris to Lausanne, Switzerland to Rome, I understood and appreciated Ewen's inclusion of these scenes after finishing the book. Ewen creates a sense of uncertainty on how the story will end, which made it unpredictable and satisfying to me. Days after completing this story, I found myself still pondering on its characters, craft, and themes. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical and literary fiction. I am looking forward to reading more books from this author.

For more information about this book and its author, please go to

Reviewer's Note: I learned about this book at the American Christian Fiction Writers' annual conference in September 2009. At this conference, one of the first writers I met was Pamela Binnings Ewen. We sat next to each other at the first-time attendees orientation and chatted for several minutes. Ewen was so kind and gracious to me, offering valuable advice to me, a beginning fiction writer. Intrigued by the description about her story, I purchased the book and brought it to a book signing event. As she signed my book, I thumbed through a notebook filled with black-and-white pictures of her grandmother in Siam. The Moon in the Mango Tree is based upon her grandmother's true story.

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