Thursday, June 19, 2008

Today I have Pamela Ewen guest blogging about her new book, The Moon in the Mango Tree!

As you know, The Moon in the Mango Tree is based on the true story of my grandmother’s life in the 1920’s, first in the jungles of north Siam—bordering Burma, where your father is from—and then in Bangkok, where he became a royal physician. My grandmother, Barbara Perkins, was one of those dazzling people that could not only tell stories, but lived them. She was irrepressible, a suffragette before women won the vote, smart, and talented, trained to sing grand opera. But in 1919, on the cusp of success in a musical career, she married my grandfather, a doctor, and followed her husband to Siam where he wanted to practice tropical medicine with a mission. This is the story of a woman struggling with faith and doubt, her longing to find meaning and purpose in life, and to sing. The lodestar of a musical career at last lures her from Siam to Paris, Lausanne, and finally Rome, where she’s faced with an excruciating choice between her husband and her music. The difficult choice between family and a demanding career that my grandmother faced 80 years ago is one that still stings many women today.


The adventures that Barbara encounters in Siam and pre-war Europe are taken from the stories she told to me, and from her letters and journals. In those days letters were the only communication she had with her family half-way around the world, so they are long and rich with detail. I did a lot of research for the book also, confirming events and people and places from old published diaries of other early travelers in the region. Reading the letters after she was gone was an amazing experience. They showed to me a side of my grandmother that I’d never known. For instance a letter rhapsodizing on the beauty of the Nan, the ancient jungle city of Siam where they lived, might contain one sentence that illuminated her struggles with faith. That is why I chose to fictionalize the story—sometimes fiction allows the writer to probe for deeper truth.


I’m a former lawyer. For many years I practiced law with a major, international law firm, and recently exchanged my partnership for the luxury of writing full time. It’s such a joy and I thank God every day for the blessing. Like most writers (I believe), I write only because that is what I love to do and I would do it regardless of whether the work might or might not ever be published. I cannot stress that last point enough to your readers who want to write. Writing The Moon in the Mango Tree transported me to another place and time. It brought my grandmother and grandfather back to me, and to my Mother who was born in Siam during that period.

I hope some of your readers will also visit my website to find our more about my first novel, Walk Back The Cat, and my non-fiction book, Faith On Trial, both dealing with the subjects of faith and doubt. www.pamelaewen.com.

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