The Moonlight Palace

Written by Liz Rosenberg
Review by Viviane Crystal

Agnes Hussein, her Uncle Chachi, and her grandparents live in crumbling, leaky Kampong Glam Palace in Singapore. The palace once belonged to the last Sultan of Singapore and is guaranteed to remain in the family as long as there is a male heir to claim ownership. Agnes wants to work to make significant repairs to their home that is quite literally falling apart.

However, this is the 1920s, and young women do not travel unescorted and certainly do not work or deal with the diminishing finances of a poor family. Her feisty grandmother, however, makes up for financial reality with fierce pride in their royal heritage and lack of tolerance for those who would bilk them out of their home, such as the caring, romantic Geoffrey Brown, who poses as savior but is perhaps something far, far worse. Nei Nei, the grandmother, is the ever-alert barometer for Agnes’s choices, a stark but real warning system that Agnes sometimes resents but comes to realize will be the only salvation of their family. Agnes meanwhile pursues the mystery of how to stop other grasping individuals from taking away her home. She does all this as time marches on and claims the lives of two of her most beloved people in the world.

The Moonlight Palace covers the grandeur of homes, architecture, food and art in 1920 Singapore but is just as generous in its depiction of our heroine’s home and their place in Singaporean history. Intriguing, exotic historical fiction for those who would love to read about this place and time so infrequently given the substantial attention it deserves!