Barbara (Babs) Perkins has a dream. She’s a star opera student, and is commissioned to sing with the Chicago opera. She believes that her husband Harvey will be thrilled with the opportunity to be a doctor in Chicago. After all there are plenty of hospitals there, and she’ll be fulfilling her long-time dream performing on stage with the opera.
Before Babs can tell Harvey, he informs her that he’s giving up his medical job to go to Siam as a medical missionary. Babs objects, saying she’s never seen herself as a missionary, but Harvey is adamant and refuses to even consider the option of going to Chicago for Babs’ dreams. He promises that they will be sent to a large city in Siam and she can sing with the opera there.
Babs gives in - what else is a woman going to do in 1919 — and follows Harvey to Siam. But Harvey isn’t stationed in a large city. Instead they find themselves about as far from a city as they can get, and residing with a couple of older missionaries who find fault with everything Babs says and does.
The Moon in the Mango Tree is the first book I’ve read by this talented author, but I certainly hope it won’t be the last. Rich in description, I could almost envision the Siam (now Thailand) area and people. The setting is very much part of the story, without the setting the story wouldn’t exist anymore. The faith message is strong, and the characters well-developed and realistic.
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Babs. She was an up and coming woman in a time when women were oppressed and secondary citizens. She was a member of the suffrage group, fighting for women’s right to vote, and a talented musician on the verge of success and she has to give it all up because her husband is called to the mission field, and it’s his life that’s important, or so she’s often reminded. I hoped that Babs would learn to peaceably get along with the other missionaries and to find her own purpose while serving with her husband. The Moon in the Mango Tree is based on a true story, which makes it even more fascinating to me. This is an excellent book. A glossary is included at the end to help the reader understand some of the foreign words used.