5 Minutes for Books — The Moon in the Mango Tree

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When I was younger, I often selected books based on the thickness of their spine. I read so much and so quickly that I wanted to get bang for my buck, so I selected thick books so that they would last longer. When I was trying to decide among several books, the thickest one always won out.

The way a book looks still affects me. Trade paperbacks are most appealing, and a compelling picture and the font of the title also calls to me or turns me away (I mused a bit more about these odd predilections that I seem to have developed of late in another post on my Snapshot blog). The Moon in the Mango Tree did call to me. I liked the color, the size (thick!), and the plot elements to which the back-of-the-book description hinted: medical missionary work in rural Siam, the choices one makes when we get married, and the setting of the 1920’s.

Author Pamela Binnings Ewen based this novel on her grandmother’s life. Knowing this, I was even more impressed with the story, because the heroine makes choices and expresses feelings and doubts that would be labeled as “irresponsible” by some people and cause some people to root for her, and others to perhaps question her decisions. This is not simply a feel-good tribute to a family member. It’s a novel based on the very interesting life of someone who happened to be her grandmother.

Barbara Perkins goes to remote Siam as a newlywed–not knowing much about her husband or what the life of a medical missionary’s wife would require of her. She gives up the promise of a career singing opera to move to an unknown land in support of her husband. This sacrifice and the confusion over their rightful place in that country fuel her discontent with that life. The place and time of this novel provide captivating and realistic layers to the characterization and plot. The time is the 1920’s, and in addition to a mission hospital in Nam, the settings include Bangkok, Italy, and France. Ewen writes descriptively about these places which makes certain scenes read like (a very interesting) travelogue.

Would you like to win one of two copies of The Moon in the Mango Tree (U.S. shipping address only)? Leave a comment here, and tell me which part of this book’s plot intrigues you most.

The winner of last week’s book, I Brake for Meltdowns, is #222 Kefe.

This is a part of the Bloggy Giveaways carnival, taking place from July 28 – August 1. Go HERE for all the details to find out how to join up with your own giveaway or to enter some of the other contests that will be linking up all week.


  1. says

    The fact that this book takes place in Siam is enough to intrigue me. As for plot, her learning about her husband is probably the biggest draw for me. I like to see how relationships in books develop.

  2. says

    This is on my “must read” list. I keep hearing about these choices she makes and I want to know if she stays with her husband in the end!
    No chance in winning if this is part of Bloggy Giveaways, but I have a good library! 😉

  3. says

    I’ve always been interested in the lives of medical missionaries, so this book sounds like one I’d like to read. I’m also a fast reader, so a thick book appeals to me too. :)

  4. says

    I’m really interested in this because of the medical missionary aspect. I grew up as an MK, and my dad was a medical missionary. I’m now a missionary myself, and I think this book looks really interesting. If I don’t win it, I just may have to buy it!

  5. says

    ooooh, yes I checked this book out of the library but NEVER got a chance to touch it…would love to win it, I found the setting of missionary life intriguing since I was one…..thanks so much!!

  6. Meredith Peters says

    I like the time period of the book and I find the places it takes you to interesting,especially Bangkok. I grew up there during the Vietnam war.

  7. Tracey Byram says

    This sounds like a great read. I like books that are set in different time periods from my own.

  8. Jenn S. says

    I really like books that are based on true stories. I also like books set in the past. This one looks like a winner.

  9. says

    I’m a slightly newlywed (of just under 2 years) so that part is fascinating, plus you mentioned Italy, and anything about Italy is interesting to me!

  10. says

    Does it count if I say that the cover is so pretty it makes me want to read the book? The plot sounds great too–and the fact that it was her grandma! How cool is that?

  11. says

    I love that it’s based on her grandmother’s life and I’m intrigued by the kinds of choices she’ll be making as a newly wed.

  12. Amanda D. says

    This looks very interesting! I love the fact that it’s set in the 1920’s and that it visits many different parts of the world!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  13. says

    this book looks really good! I would love to read it! I don’t know what intrigues me the most. Probably the whole medical missionary thing.

  14. Leticia D. says

    I would love to read this book. The story line is of high interest to me and yes…the beautiful cover is a bonus too! 😉 Anything with the word moon in it always catches my eye!

  15. says

    Sounds wonderful! I’m most intrigued by the fact that this is based on the author’s grandmother. Plus, the cover is beautiful! Thanks for another great giveaway!

  16. Estelle S. says

    This sounds like a really great book! I mostly read crime and drama novels, but this book has me interested. I may just buy it if I don’t win it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. says

    The fact that this takes place in a foreign land, to which I have never been, really intrigues me. I’d love to read about it and the choices she made, and the medical missionary life. Thanks for the chance to win!

  18. Sandra - Illinois says

    I love to see the deep layers of a woman who gave up her dreams to follow her husband, but she is human because she has some regrets. I have to get this book because I want to see how it ends.

  19. Kristan says

    I always wanted to do medical missions, so that aspect intrigues me.

  20. Kara says

    1920’s in Siam sounds very intriguing! I know little about the 20’s and nothing about Siam, so this would be a great read.

  21. says

    As a Christian, for me, the part that intrigues me the most is the missionary part, how they spread the gospel, etc. I love to read these accounts of evangelistic work especially about the sacrifices people made to follow God and how He provides. Kathy

  22. Tonya Froemel says

    I would love to read this book. The fact that it is based on a real person is interesting. I read the reviews and it looks like a really great story.

  23. Cindi says

    I adore books! The cover of a book makes or breaks my decision towards a book. This book’s cover is lovely. The story line sounds great. Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

  24. Suzie G says

    I like that the book lets the reader question the characters decisions instead of just painting a black and white picture where 99 percent of people will all feel the same way.

  25. Angela says

    Having a copy of this would be nice. I am most interested in the medical missionary work aspect of the book.

  26. says

    I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book from the 1920’s so I’d have to say that is what is the most appealing to me, to learn a bit more about life during that era.

  27. Fedora says

    Wow–this book sounds really interesting! I’m most interested to read about how such a big move impacts her marriage, especially since it happens right at the beginning of their life together. Thanks so much for this recommendation!

  28. Anna says

    The fact that he is a medical missionary and she gives up her dream to be with him is what appeals to me. I like reading stories about people that have gone through similar experiences as I have…not that I’ve gone through anything that this woman did…but I did give up my dream for a while to support my husband when we first married and although I wouldn’t change things now…I wonder from time to time…”What if???”

  29. says

    I am addicted to historical fiction. I think the fact that it is a true story set in the 1920’s makes it even more appealing to me. I love to read about different eras and the way the time period affected people’s lives.

  30. Becky says

    I have heard a lot of good things about this book. The part that interests me the most is that he is a medical missionary. Being a nurse, those are the mission trips that most interest me. Thank you for a great giveaway!

  31. says

    this book sounds fantastic. i’m always looking for new authors…i love to read! a couple things intrigue me about this book. the first is that’s it’s based on the life of the author’s grandmother, and the second is that she doesn’t know much about her husband, and yet she gives up her opportunities in life to go with him. thanks for the chance to win!

  32. Elizabeth M. says

    I think it’s the part of the book that talks about her marriage and the choices she makes, etc. Sounds intriguing to me!

  33. says

    The part that sounds interesting to me is that it’s about missions. I studied missions in college, and love to read those old missionary stories!

  34. Tami Elliott says

    Sounds like a great book – it’s so helpful to see how others deal with discontent in a given situation.

  35. says

    I love the history and the era in which the book is set! The 20’s and 30’s are some of my favorite times (think… Great Gatsby)!

  36. Hollie says

    The setting sounds interesting – the time and locations that the story is set in.

    hedwards25 at gmail dot com

  37. says

    I don’t know much about Siam aside from what I read in Anna and the King. Sounds like a neat book. Have a great week. Stop by our blog for a chance to win a subscription to Country Home.

  38. says

    This book has been on my list to read for a while now. For some reason I’m drawn to stories about missionaries in the earlier part of the 20th century (Poisonwood Bible comes to mind as a favorite). Would love to win it!


  39. says

    I have heard about this book before and was intrigued by it. I think the most interesting part of the plot is to read about what life was like in Nam before the 1960’s.

  40. DeeAnn says

    I think the part that intrigues me most is that Barbara has choices to make. In searching for her answers she surely will face many situations that will cause her to question those choices. Sounds like a good read.

  41. Melissa M. says

    The most interesting thing about the book to me is the foreign and older setting–it sounds very intriguing! (I really lie the cover, too)! Missionary stories also appeal to me, especially if they’re based on truth.

  42. Susan Ledet says

    Sounds like a great book. I like that it was based on her grandmother’s life and that we will get “to travel” to far away places. Thank you.

  43. says

    Well, I’m a missionary’s kid, so I love stories of missionaries. I also love travel, so reading about life in another country is always interesting.

  44. Janet F says

    The sacrifice and the confusion over their rightful place in that country fuel her discontent with that life, makes me want to find out what happens.

  45. Sherri B. says

    I love books like these where people draw on their own experiences or the experiences of those in their lives!!! Count me in!!!

  46. Tisha says

    The book sounds really interesting… I like that the story is based on the author’s grandmother’s life. Thanks for the giveaway!

  47. says

    The idea of her giving up her dreams to move with a man she hardly knows – I would love to know if she falls in love with him or always regrets her choice.

  48. says

    I’m an avid reader and a mom, so I’m interested in both the giveaway and the “5 minutes” websites! The book sounds fascinating – I love historical novels, especially ones set in cultures other than our own, and this one sounds like a winner. Thanks for the giveaway!

  49. says

    This has so many great elements. I especially love to read about people using their profession as part of being a missionary. Sounds like a good read!

  50. Vicki Wurgler says

    going to remote Siam as a newlywed-I don’t know if I’d do that-sounds like an interesting book

  51. Tamara Bennington says

    Now I am curious about this book it is a must have for me to read. Great story line and thank-you for the contest.

  52. Amy Lutz says

    Many of us think we know our spouses but it takes a lifetime. I’m intrigued by the exotic locale – Thailand – Siam – is place I’ve always wanted to visit. Like you, I also can’t handle a thick read with a toddler who is entering his terrible (curious)twos early.

  53. says

    Well I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has their book “quirks”. I took look at the title and cover and the thickness was important too. Thanks so much for this awesome giveaway!!!

  54. says

    This sentence intrigues me the most, “Ewen writes descriptively about these places which makes certain scenes read like (a very interesting) travelogue” I love books & reading & I love how you can feel transported while reading. This book almost promises that!

  55. Janelle says

    It sounds a little maybe like “The Painted Veil.” What interests me is that I bet it’s got great imagery about the beauty of the land as well as great description of emotions.

  56. says

    I love reading about the 1920’s, so that is the clincher for me. Doubt to win it, but at least now Im interested enough to go out and buy it. Thanks for the great recommendations! :)

  57. Kristy says

    The intriguing part is the fact that she moves to Siam with no knowledge of the location. Sounds like a great read.

  58. Sue Farrell says

    I think the part that intrigues me is seeing how her relationship with her husband developes in such an unusual background.

  59. Jennifer Still says

    So much appeals to me that it’s difficult to choose the one thing that intrigues me most. I guess it’s that the story is about a woman’s life in a time when, though fairly recent, women were not typically seen as full individuals in their own right; a woman’s thoughts and feelings during this time are not often delved into. I’d love to win!

  60. says

    Thanks for having this giveaway. I recently heard about this book and would really like to read it. I took French in high school and college, so France definitely interests me – I am interested in the part of the book that takes place in France.

  61. Sue Hooley says

    I think being immersed in a different country as a newly wed would certainly have it’s challenges. I would look forward to reading about how she handled that situation.

  62. Charlene Kuser says

    I am very interested in what Barbara’s final sacrifice was?I love to read books about the
    struggle between choices we have in our lives.
    What makes this book even more interesting its
    about the life of a real person.Thanks for the giveaway

  63. Pamela White says

    The Moon in the Mango Tree is very interesting. It is hard enough getting married and setting up house but to be in a strange place makes it that more difficult.

  64. Nicole Price says

    I really like the fact that this is about the Author’s grandmother. I love the fact that it’s set in the 1920’s also. Thanks for the giveaway!

  65. bridget says

    I like novels that teach a little history and give you a sense of a place or time. This book sounds interesting. Thank you for this contest.

  66. Jacqueline Carpenter says

    This book would be the ultimate to read,sounds like my kind of book.Thanks for a great contest.


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