The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg
From the Publisher:
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.
In this magical coming of age story, we get to know a diverse, multi-cultural cast of characters in the heroine, Agnes', family but the story is told by 'Aggie' herself. At seventeen, Agnes has led a fairly sheltered and protected life, and she is naive in the ways of the world and the heart. However, that doesn't stop her from being an insightful, witty and enjoyable narrator who is able to form an emotional bond with the reader almost immediately. Following her journey from the naive girl we meet in the beginning to a brave, level headed woman who is sure of her place in the world and in the family was believable and joyful and I was sad when the story ended.
Liz Rosenberg not only paints a picture of an old Singapore, but she transports you there in this mesmerizing tale. You walk through the rooms of the once splendid palace in Agnes' shoes. You feel as if you are a part of her family, as if you are sitting in the room with them and can hear their various accents. It is a beautifully worded tale, and a quick read, sure to satisfy fans of historical fiction, coming of age stories or those who wish to be transported to a beautiful Asia through prose.