Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home

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This despite the fact, as Alison admits, that as a chef she's lost. I don't know how to cook a duck.

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The preparation for the meal includes the setting afire of a kitchen towel, the potential loss of cooked yams in a knocked over bowl, and other disastrous screw-ups, including the fact that the duck comes out completely underdone. With all these missteps and difficulties, it nonetheless becomes clear that everyone involved wants this visit to succeed. Alison loves Ajay and his family, and it is clear that, despite some initial reservations, they come to love her as well.

One of the joys of this book lies in Ajay's very patient advice to Alison when she has encountered a difference between her expectations as a Chinese-American and the realties of Indian experience and culture. Upon their arrival at Mokimpur, for example, Alison hears faint laughter and voices emanating from the walls of the building.

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She asks Ajay whether there are ghosts here, and he offers the following: "'If you're hearing voices, well, I have heard them, too. Everyone in my family has. It wouldn't surprise me if a few souls decided to stay on. But it doesn't end there, and Alison and the reader learn something from him of real emotional substance.

We believe that we co-exist with many, many spirits The body withers away, but the essence of the person remains, watching over us. Many such exchanges take place in this wonderful book. All are charming and above all filled with sometimes difficult but always truthful teachings. I admire Alison's forthright descriptions of her frequent confusion in Mokimpur, and her ability to open her heart to what Ajay and his family do to resolve that confusion.

This is a travel book with a center of kindness, good humor and excellent writing that exhibits, as Alison writes, "the preternatural glow over the Indian night sky. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus. Real Life. Real News.

Real Voices. Let us know what you'd like to see as a HuffPost Member. Canada U. US News. World News. Social Justice. Donald Trump. Queer Voices. Black Voices. Latino Voices. She's actually, as Allison finds, pretty great. May 08, Toni rated it it was ok. A younger woman spends hours writing a book ,an older woman spends hours reading a book.

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Those hours are lost and can never be reclaimed. Enough said. May 16, Lee Wilson rated it it was amazing.


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This is a book for armchair travelers, amateur sociologists, book clubs, and readers who want to vicariously live with a royal family in India whose formerly grand lifestyle is slipping away. Journalist Alison Gee is living her definition of success a glamorous career, a rich boyfriend, a designer wardrobe, and five-star vacations , but something is missing. Enter Ajay, an Indian journalist for whom Alison gives up her lavish lifestyle.

Only after Alison and Ajay are engaged, does Alison learn t This is a book for armchair travelers, amateur sociologists, book clubs, and readers who want to vicariously live with a royal family in India whose formerly grand lifestyle is slipping away. Only after Alison and Ajay are engaged, does Alison learn that he is a prince.

Cow dung being shaped into patties for fuel. Hundreds of idols bathed in the sink and then wrapped in tiny cashmere shawls, and the faithful servant of four decades sleeping on the garage floor while bedrooms lie empty because reincarnation has determined his caste. This is a beautifully-written story of a girl who finds her prince, a new set of values, and more than one place to call home. Feb 25, Melina Watts rated it it was amazing. Still in a dazzle from book signing at Vroman's last week with Alison Singh Gee. The pieces she pulled to read from the book had me so entranced that I HAD to read her book "Where the Peacocks Sing" while waiting in line for Mexican food on the way back home.

The book is literally enchanting Hong Kong, India, Los Angeles, fascinating aka impossible relatives, crazy money, poverty, shimmery prose, true love, mangoes and peacocks The heroine But trust me, you'll like the end game. At the book signing, the author joked that one of her writer friends commented that maybe the book was more of a memoir of her husband than of she herself;I would argue something different: this book is one of those rare romances wherein the back story of the hero and the back story of the heroine are both well served and the collision between their two worlds results in a different better combined reality, a happy ever after so sweet that I found myself forced to stop to buy Indian food on the day after I read the book to get some legitimate chai.

Alison is one of those rare writers who writes male characters as well as she writes female characters and the other way around, too. And she does pretty well for writing houses as characters. After such literary candy, I needed some genuine sweet of my own. Chai at night. Bed tea. An Indian noun learned from this truly delicious read. Good for book clubs. Good for late night treat for you. A must as surely as those outrageous shoes Alison used to buy in Hong Kong back in the day Mar 06, Cait rated it did not like it Shelves: did-not-like , fiction.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I didn't like this book. The cover is gorgeous, and the backcover copy sounded really good. And then I started reading. I don't mean to be rude but it came across that all the narrator does is whine and complain about her life. She's selfish, crap with money for the majority of the book and just really irritating.

The other aspect I found hard about this book - which is no fault of the author - is that I struggled with India. How the country functions, the caste system etc. I just didn't understa I didn't like this book. I just didn't understand how it could be that way and everyone was okay with it. So I found myself getting frustrated about certain interactions.

Overall, I'm not quite sure what the point of this book was. She's not on a journey of self discovery and if she is it's hidden pretty damn well within her bitching and moaning. So as much as I hate writing bad reviews, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. View all 4 comments. Mar 10, Rachelle rated it it was amazing. It's tempting to read this book as quickly as possible to find out what happens to the highly engaging characters.

Where the Peacocks Sing: Memoir Fallout

But then you may miss not only the rich ambiance of Hong Kong, India and LA's Chinatown, you may miss the layers of meaning within this tale and the depth of the characters' transformations. Beyond the entrancing love story is another journey, one where the author explores her family's past and her heritage, how notions of worldly success can blind us and what can happen if we chall It's tempting to read this book as quickly as possible to find out what happens to the highly engaging characters.

Beyond the entrancing love story is another journey, one where the author explores her family's past and her heritage, how notions of worldly success can blind us and what can happen if we challenge our idea of what matters in life. The concept of home and the broken-down palace were beautifully rendered and made me think about what home means to me. I loved being transported between bustling Hong Kong and rural India. But moreso, I loved the narrator's reflections on what was happening within her, to her, as she questioned everything she'd known in her life and took a leap of faith.

The epic culture clash between families was something many can relate to and showed that no matter what you do for love, there are still battles ahead. I can't recommend this book enough. It's beautiful. Apr 21, Cate Loves Books rated it it was amazing. Unusual, exotic and entertaining memoir with a deep soul. Beautiful writing too! I loved this this book the same way I loved Eat, Pray, Love, but probably even more. This book to me had more depth in that you also witnessed the development of a deep love and a relationship to two countries that Allison had spent a lot of time in.

Unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, hers wasn't superficial knowledge gleaned from a book or from being just a tourist. I had so many questions about Indian culture and this book Unusual, exotic and entertaining memoir with a deep soul. I had so many questions about Indian culture and this book answered a lot of those but in a way that had so much grace and humor.

I learned a lot about Hong Kong, China too. I read it in my book club and we had a great discussion about it. We served Indian food and by the end of the night we felt we had been to India and Hong Kong and back again. May 10, Catherine rated it really liked it. Gee, an American journalist working in Hong Kong, meets a colleague, Ajay, who was based in India, at a company meeting. As their relationship blossoms, Ajay moves to Hong Kong so the couple can be together.

Gee is Gee, an American journalist working in Hong Kong, meets a colleague, Ajay, who was based in India, at a company meeting. A sweet love story of two disparate cultures coming together. Jan 12, Ajay Singh rated it it was amazing. Soul searching takes many forms but when it's combined with grit, romance and humor in a memoir as candid and deep as this, you realize that literature and life do not have opposite goals after all. To turn Truman Capote's apt conception of human existence on its head, Alison Singh Gee's journey reads like a breathtaking play with a superb third act.

View 2 comments. Apr 02, Susan rated it it was amazing. From the very first lines of Where the Peacocks Sing I was hooked. Alison Singh Gee led me through her journey of self-discovery, and the search for a deeper existence, with powerful images and unforgettable characters. In her memoir, she recounts her high octane life as an editor of Asiaweek in Hong Kong with humor, especially when she describes her elitist expat British friends. A world that was very foreign to me until I read this book.

The best part though, is when she meets Ajay, a handsome From the very first lines of Where the Peacocks Sing I was hooked. The best part though, is when she meets Ajay, a handsome and unpretentious Indian journalist and goes with him to his native village in India to meet his family. What began as a charming fairy tale soon turns out to be a crash course in how to deal with a haughty and detached future mother-in law, a broken down hundred-room palace that was once the jewel of Northern India, and the inflexible Indian caste system.

A must read for anyone who knows what it means to look for home when life's journey takes you away from what is familiar and safe and propels you into the unknown. One never knows where that home is, until you get there. Feb 21, Rachel rated it really liked it. I finished the book in less than 24 hours, so obviously I enjoyed the book. I really would like to give it more than 4 stars but two points keep me from doing so.

The first is for all the defined terms in the book. I figure in this multi-cultural interconnected world that either a you should know what a non-english word means or b if you don't know what it means you should educate yourself and look it up on the internet. I found these definitions jarring to the flow of the narrative. The secon I finished the book in less than 24 hours, so obviously I enjoyed the book. The second point was that structurally, the book felt like it was missing a chapter. In particular, I thought that the book should have had a more extensive chapter at the end of the book with Alison and Ajay in Los Angeles.

Overall a great first book. May 17, BJ Gallagher rated it it was amazing. A wise editor once told me, "That which is the most personal is also the most universal. The colorful cast of characters A wise editor once told me, "That which is the most personal is also the most universal. The colorful cast of characters in her new husband's extended family brings back memories of my own experience marrying into an eccentric clan I didn't understand.

I'm sure I'm not alone in relating to Alison's story Because, indeed, that which is the most personal is also the most universal. May 10, Catherine Nelson rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: lovers of travel, asia, india and being young and searching. Apr 15, Denise Florent rated it it was amazing. This is the first book I am reviewing. One of the most charming books I have read in a while.


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I fell in love with the fairytale love story set in India and Hong Kong, and I learned so much about two big beautiful lovely cultures. The author seems like a fun smart woman and I enjoyed being taken on the page any way through these countries and through her life. The book is also laugh out loud funny which surprised me. So many things in one book. I also love how she examines the idea of what soci This is the first book I am reviewing.

I also love how she examines the idea of what society wants us to want and what our hearts might actually want and how it is so hard to listen to the voice inside ourselves. Ultimately, that is the only way we can live and fly. I cried when I read the epilogue.

Beautiful book. I recommend it to anyone who loves to travel, who loves romance, and who loves life philosophy. Mar 08, Madge rated it it was amazing. This was a wonderful book about two families and the sharing of their lives. When Alison met Ajay they had very different ideas about life and I wasn't sure this was going to work as a relationship even knowing she had written the book in current time and was married and had a child but as you read about their finding their ways in different cultures, I began to see how their differences would come to represent the best parts of each of them as they forged a relationship and marriage.

This boo This was a wonderful book about two families and the sharing of their lives. This book begs a sequel. I want to follow them back to America and see if they make the Haveli a home with at least hot water and updated bathrooms. And how now at least 5 years into their marriage how they have learned each other's customs and how the families have adjusted. An enjoyable read and since I have traveled to India, a reminder of all it's wonderfulness.

Where the Peacocks Sing: Memoir Fallout

Jan 27, Katie rated it it was amazing. Though the exotic globe-hopping to which this fairy tale of a memoir treats readers is fabulously transporting, the story itself remains remarkably relatable throughout. A riveting and relentlessly entertaining tale, the book also dispenses plenty of cocktail Though the exotic globe-hopping to which this fairy tale of a memoir treats readers is fabulously transporting, the story itself remains remarkably relatable throughout.

A riveting and relentlessly entertaining tale, the book also dispenses plenty of cocktail party-appropriate conversation fodder—in the form of factoids detailing the history and traditions of India, Hong Kong and Southern California—making it an illuminating, yet unfailingly enjoyable, read. I think we all forget that traveling often has very little to do with our preconceived notions of a place. We decide to go for one reason, and usually, if we stay open, we return with something unexpected. We return a more complex, intelligent and alive version of ourselves.

This is how I felt reading Alison Singh Gee's book. I found myself giving in to her writing, taking in India's countryside, her new family there, the haveli, the bright pops of color in the wheat fields, and the food. The book absolutely took me to India and Hong Kong.

And I think the book gave me enough inspiration and courage to put aside my anxieties, and consider getting on a plane and going. Mar 30, Roopa rated it really liked it Shelves: indiaapril. Awesome for when your facing tepid water bucket showers and toting around Bisleri.

Gee does a beautiful job celebrating India, which I really appreciated. She also brings nice color to Hong Kong and what it's like to be an journalist these days. On occasion, I found the dialogue to be irksome, but it's clearly a reflection of what an honest and self-reflective story the author told. A great modern memoir.

I aspire to have a memoir like Where the Peacocks Sing. Honest, romantic, well-traveled and light-hearted. Mar 23, Vicki Seamons rated it really liked it. I am sorry I missed Ms. Gee at Vromans. I would have liked to see if she is as bubbly as she writes. It was a quick enjoyable read.

It gave me insight into a country and people I know so little about and helped me understand the caste system and how it still survives in this day and time.