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"Pure and beautiful, she glows like the moon behind clouds." The time is the 12th Century, the place Cambodia, birthplace of the lost Angkor civilisation. In a village behind a towering stone temple lives a young woman named Sray, whom neighbors liken to the heroine of a Hindu epic. Hiding a dangerous secret, she is content with quiet obscurity, but one rainy season aftern"Pure and beautiful, she glows like the moon behind clouds." The time is the 12th Century, the place Cambodia, birthplace of the lost Angkor civilisation. In a village behind a towering stone temple lives a young woman named Sray, whom neighbors liken to the heroine of a Hindu epic. Hiding a dangerous secret, she is content with quiet obscurity, but one rainy season afternoon is called to a life of prominence in the royal court. There her faith and loyalties are tested by attentions from the great king Suryavarman II. Her husband Nol, palace confidante and master of the silk parasols that were symbols of the monarch's rank, struggles to keep her devotion.This lovingly crafted first novel by former Washington Post correspondent John Burgess revives the rites and rhythms of the ancient culture that built the temples of Angkor, then abandoned them to the jungle. In telling her tale, Sray takes the reader to a hilltop monastery, a concubine pavilion and across the seas to the throne room of imperial China. She witnesses the construction of the largest of the temples, Angkor Wat, and offers an explanation for its greatest mystery--why it broke with centuries of tradition to face west instead of east....

Title : a woman of angkor
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 18054227
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 500 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

a woman of angkor Reviews

  • Carrie
    2018-12-01 08:11

    Depending on what you are looking for in a book, this could be a really good book or a really disappointing book. I bought it based on the reviews on the back since I purchased it in singapore and the stores here have a nasty habit of wrapping all books in plastic so I could not read a synopsis of it or flip through it. The jacket perhaps through my own fault led me to think that this would be a story of the building of the temple and the workings of the lives of the every day workers. Although there was quite a bit of interesting historical fiction presented and wonderful scenic descriptions, I am not sure that someone who has not visited that area in Cambodia will appreciate it as much without doing additional research and map checking into the areas described. The story itself is basically a romance novel and that is where I lost interest, especially since the actions of the supposedly extraordinary female narrator were laughable and overly dramatized. In a snapshot she is a successful trader even though she does not tend much to her business, often disappearing for weeks at a time on her spiritual retreats which also cause her to horribly neglect her daughter when her daughter needs guidance the most. She also spends the entire book lusting after a man who has killed and maimed to become king because he is a fine specimen of a man yet holds it against her husband for doing considerably less despicable things and has been loyal and faithful to her. The scenes of her supposedly trying her best to stay out of eyesight of the king but giving him come hither looks every time they meet are almost comical to me. Like I said, this is typical romance novel stuff and I am just not interested in that type of a book. I was really hoping for a story of an average woman trying to make her way through an interesting time, not read about this beautiful woman "innocently" beguile every man to a life long dedication to her.

  • Huijia Li
    2018-11-13 23:57

    Read this as I was visiting Cambodia and wanted to steep myself in some of the history and folklore of the Khmer Golden Age. Enjoyed how the details of everyday life in an ancient empire was re-imagined, and liked the theories posited about the building of Angkor Wat. Did not care very much about the characters however.

  • Michelle Fitzgerald
    2018-11-20 08:01

    This is a lovely book for those interested in historical fiction with a fairy tale/fable quality. I enjoyed learning about the spirituality and history of Cambodia and what daily life might have been like for those in and outside of the royal court. I appreciated the pull of conscience in Lady Sray between her desires and wanting to do what is right even when the actions of others around you prevent your own choices. While not a fast paced read, after about 75 pages I was drawn to the characters and story. Give the beginning some time to get through but well worth it.

  • Randy
    2018-12-08 04:22

    This first novel by former Washington Post journalist John Burgess is historically accurate and a very imaginative telling of the history of World Heritage Site Angkor.'Pure and beautiful, she glows like the moon behind clouds.'The time is the 12th Century, the place Cambodia, birthplace of the lost Angkor civilisation. In a village behind a towering stone temple lives a young woman named Sray, whom neighbors liken to the heroine of a Hindu epic. Hiding a dangerous secret, she is content with quiet obscurity, but one rainy season afternoon is called to a life of prominence in the royal court. There her faith and loyalties are tested by attentions from the great king Suryavarman II. Struggling to keep her devotion is her husband Nol, palace confidante and master of the silk parasols that were symbols of the monarch's rank.This lovingly crafted novel revives the rites and rhythms of the ancient culture that built the temples of Angkor, then abandoned them to the jungle. In telling her tale, Sray takes the reader to a hilltop monastery, a concubine pavilion and across the seas to the throne room of imperial China. She witnesses the construction of the largest of the temples, Angkor Wat, and offers an explanation for its greatest mystery-why it broke with centuries of tradition to face west instead of east.

  • Maggie
    2018-12-09 02:58

    I love Cambodia and was looking forward to a historical, fictional account of the building of Angkor Wat. But most of all I wanted to glimpse at the daily lives of the Cambodians from a time in history when we lack much if any detail. I think the author tried very hard to meet both my desires, but I feel he missed the mark. I'm not exactly sure why. There was plenty of storyline but it was too contrived for my liking. One family contains the expert parasol maker for the king, the architect of Angkor Wat, the favourite concubine and a holy woman who is one step down from being a goddess (her purity and selfless deeds wore very thin by the end). I found the story interrupted the history and I wanted the history. I also felt at times that some more careful editing might not go astray.And on a completely separate thread, the binding of the book made it extremely difficult to hold and read. A minor issue I know but one which put me off reading.

  • Kaybee
    2018-12-09 23:55

    I think Burgess is a good, not great, fiction writer with what seem like plausible and interesting story lines that tell you a lot about ancient Cambodia and Khmer culture, including the building of the great temple of Angkor Wat. The book is told in the first person by a woman who rises from poverty to being a talented and rich businesswoman, religious benefactor, and a spiritual woman. Her husband is parasol maker to the king. Court politics play a large part in the story. Her son becomes the architect of Angkor Wat and her daughter the king's courtesan. The story plays out over her entire lifetime and includes warfare, foreign travel, romance, and intrigue. It moves along well and creates a plausible world of the Khmer empire of the 13th century.I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in historical fiction set in a time and place unfamiliar to most of us.

  • Mary Alice
    2018-11-14 06:55

    Great, unique historical novel. I never thought I would have been interested in a novel of ancient Cambodia and the building of the Temple Angkor Wat. But I couldn't put this book down.The historical minutia was good and made the story authentic. Who knew that the ancients in southeast Asia took so many baths? And who would have imagined that the making of parasols was an important craft, and that the King's parasol master was an influential politician? The tale is told by Sray, the "woman of Angkor". She is a religious woman, and I loved hearing about her devotions. She was a little too good to be true, but still pretty believable.

  • Gopal R
    2018-11-28 02:03

    John Burgess is an excellent and lively story teller. He has beautifully realised and recaptured the life during the height of the Cambodian civilization leading to the building of the Angkor Wat. Having spent a good deal of my life in South East Asia and having travelled around, experienced and enjoyed the cultural diversity that the region has to offer, some of which are abundantly Indianized, I could immerse myself very well into the story and live through the glory days of Angkor. Amazing read!!!

  • Lupeng Jin
    2018-11-25 06:02

    This book entirely drags my interests to this not-remote-but-strange-to-me country, Cambodia, about which I had no tiny little knowledge before. Angkor Wat, to some extent, is merely a abandoned temple to me. The fictional stories in this book not only describes its grandeur but some sort of nerve-cracking romance as well. Between the lines, I am fully aware that the delicacy of female minds in terms of life, love and lust comparing with masculine ambitions and weaknesses. I recommend this book to you guys who love historical fictions.

  • Chris Wharton
    2018-11-28 06:10

    A well-focused historical novel about a family in the royal Khmer court during the 12th-century construction of Angkor Wat. Very comprehending of the Khmer Hindi culture, religion, and governance of the time, as well as larger society beyond the court and regional history and conflicts. Very well imagined and easy reading. A bonus for me, it vividly brought things back from my Peace Corps time in a once Khmer part of Thailand.

  • Azilsah
    2018-12-09 04:56

    Bought this while in Cambodia and reading after visiting Angkor Wat and other temples that this book is set including Pre Tup and Trinity temple (Phnom Krom) as well as Tonle Sap..This book adds up your historical info as it explicitly includes all details during the reign of 18th King as many other historical fiction book does. I trully enjoyed the book being the fan of Angkor itself but somehow I feel there is no strong connection in the character interpretation.

  • Joyce Kirk
    2018-11-28 06:01

    I read this book after a couple of days at Angkor Wat and Tonle Sap and bought it in the bookstore at Siem Reap airport. It provides interesting (fictional) insights into Khmer courtly life, the expansion of the Khmer Empire and the building of the largest religious monument on earth. The book satisfied some of my curiosity about a vanished civilisation but I doubt that I would recommend it to people who don't share this curiosity.

  • Lorit Queller
    2018-11-13 01:02

    I went to Cambodia and visited the temples of Angkor. I came back wanting to know more about the civilization that built those amazing buildings. This isn't the type of book that you just can't put down, but it does give you a little bit of insight into what it would have been like to live in Angkor during it's peak. I found it interesting, and exactly what I was looking for

  • Ming
    2018-11-28 00:00

    A thoroughly intriguing story... I was relieved that the setting and people weren't exoticized. The twists and turns were clever and the author presented a credible interpretation of how Angkor Wat was built.

  • Iain Hudson
    2018-11-30 08:08

    I was fortunate enough to visit Angkor some years back and I enjoy reading stories set in historical places. Looking forward to seeing how this develops...A well-written story which takes one back to the time of Jayavarman and gives one a good feel for what life may have been like at the time...

  • Allen Wolf
    2018-12-02 08:00

    Great historical fiction. I've been to Angkor Wat where this story unfolds. The author provides a plausible explanation for some of the mysteries of this historic site in an exciting tale. The style is reminiscent of Dan Brown's treatment of Rome and the Vatican. I couldn't put it down.

  • Cindy Deyo
    2018-11-20 05:56

    This was a fascinating, uniquely written and thoroughly enjoyable book. Hated for it to end. Loved the characters, saw the country and village life through the author's eyes, and especially loved the holy elephant.

  • Madeline Dahlman
    2018-11-23 05:07

    Seriously, unless you're a Cambodia nut, don't bother...way too tedious to read as a pleasure reader..they could have cut 200 pages and given themselves a much broader audience...longest weeks of my life

  • Gill Schell
    2018-11-14 05:57

    A light, easy read and an enjoyable story, set in Cambodia in the 12th century during the building of Angkor Wat.

  • Juliet
    2018-12-08 04:12

    Interesting historical fiction reading while in Cambodia, much too long of a book overall.

  • Shweta
    2018-11-21 04:20

    Its going to be more than 3 months and several books after, but I still cannot and don't think will be ever able to get over that journey of a book. Its absolutely mesmerising!

  • Sue
    2018-11-21 04:21

    Absolute tour-de-force. Incredible details and beautiful writing bring this ancient culture to life. If you have any interest in Cambodia, or ancient Asia at all, read this.

  • Eleon397
    2018-12-10 05:18

    A terrific tale that explains how life might have been lived in Angkor at the height of the empire. I can't wait to see the temple for myself.

  • Lisa
    2018-12-05 07:06

    Read this while in Cambodia. For the story of a woman during the 12th century, it was really interesting.

  • Peter Eisner
    2018-12-11 03:13

    The saga of a Khmer family and the building of Angkor Wat a millennium ago. It is vividly told in the voice of Sray, the mother, wife and eventually patroness of the kingdom. Beautifully done.

  • Yawtm
    2018-11-12 00:10

    great historical story in a geographical setting that i can relate to