Most helpful positive review
154 of 172 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2000
Probably one of the strangest things about my reading of The English Governess at the Siamese Court, was the location in which I found the book. I was rummaging through the books at the Asia Book Store on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, looking for mindless mysteries to pass the time between tailor fittings. I was astonished to find a copy in Bangkok, knowing the Thai feelings toward Anna Leonowens. All I can say about the book is, now I have a complete understanding of why they would feel that way about her. Mrs. Leonowens view is so ethnocentric as to be bordering blatant racism. She takes no time to understand the culture around her, and fills her writings with the basest stereotypes of Asian culture found so prevalently in Victorian Imperial culture. Even when she does give credit to the Thai people for the beauty of their culture, it is done with an air of surprise, that these "primitives" could develop something of beauty.
BUT, this should not stop anyone from reading the book (thus my rating of four stars). The book should be read if only to gauge the growth that has been achieved in the last one hundred and thirty years. The book is an interesting look back at the accepted viewpoint of the nineteenth century. Mrs. Leonowens is a perfect mirror of the superior attitude of the Anglo-Saxon in his drive to finally control 3/4 of the earth. All in all, this book is a very interesting trip into the past.