Nancy A. (Woodstock, Georgia)
An Interesting Story
It was gratifying to see an ordinary American citizen rise to the occasion and fulfill the new role life thrust upon her. I commend her for sharing so much of herself, revealing her fear (after her husband left) that "slowly boxed her into a smaller and smaller life, until her life was so tiny she could barely turn around in it" and her heartbreaking losses and tears "shed after each miscarriage, at the irrevocable loss of a beating heart, a human soul". I think the book will appeal particularly to women of middle-age.
I would have appreciated an indication of how to pronounce some of the unfamiliar words - -especially Otuam and Tsiami, which appear on almost every page. I think the book could benefit from some editing, such as removing some of the many references to her being in awe of herself as king. Although king is the correct title for her position, her actual "job" and its duties were more what we would think of as the mayor of a town of about 7,000 (about the size of Wasilla, AK).
Patricia T. (Fallbrook, CA)
When I finished reading King Peggy, my first thought was this book would make a great Disney movie. For me it was rather a chore to finish, which is a pity because our heroine, Peggielene Bartels, is an amazing woman who took on a daunting task with determination, her story is unique and surely worthy of telling. I found the prose style problematic. Sometimes it read like a fable, sometimes like a middle school reader. Research was lacking: the author had the fishermen of Otuam pulling in an impossible mix of warm, cold, and fresh water fish from the tropical waters off Ghana; lions and rhinos are creatures of eastern, south-eastern, southern Africa, Namibia, the plains and veldts of the Great Rift Valley; Nelson Mandela is most certainly not the only African president to be jailed before taking office, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya comes to mind. Sorry to be such a curmudgeon, these details may be considered trivial, but I found them bothersome. I actually admired Peggy very much. She was too naive in the beginning, but was anxious at all times to respect her heritage while at the same time improving the lot of Otuam's residents. I'm glad she succeeded.
Judith G. (Ewa Beach, HI)
Fewer details, please
This non-fiction story is interesting. The writing with so many details leading to the 'meat' of the story was off-putting. Perhaps it's the holiday tasks and appointments that kept me from reading this leisurely. I haven't finished the book and don't feel the pull to do so. I will try again after the New Year and perhaps I'll find it more readable. In the meantime I must say it should be a fascinating story.
Carole A. (Denver, CO)
One person can make a difference!
It is always uplifting to see that one average although not really can make a difference! While I felt the writing could have been tightened up this was a good read. What a wonderful example of how easily the socio-economic status of a community can be changed. King Peggy is certainly a book that should appeal to book club discussions. My book club would enlarge the discussion bringing more information about the area and how one person goes about making a difference. For these same reasons this would be a great young adult book as a basis for a research project or paper. While similar to Three Cups of Tea in idea and similar outcome this was not as dynamic. King Peggy was a worthwhile read will certainly be passed along to my reading companions.
Shelby L. (Hamden, CT)
The Power of One
An amazing story of one woman's ability to turn around the fate of her birth village in Ghana. Peggy Bartels, a secretary in the Ghanian Embassy in Washington is called to become King of the village she left 30 years before. She accepts the job not knowing how run down and rife with thievery the place has become. It's a fascinating read of what one person with determination can do. It would make a great book club discussion.
Donna N. (casa grande, AZ)
What a delightful story!! I enjoyed the "King" and what she brought to this village in Ghana. It had me smiling many times, and it would be a good book for book clubs allowing them to discuss strong women and look at this part of the world in a way we don't often have the privilege of encountering.
Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC)
A Journey Begins ......
I was a little surprised how much I enjoyed this book – I expected to like the story, but once I started reading I did not want to stop. In many ways this book reminded me of when I read “Unbowed” by Wangari Maathai, and I was in awe of one person taking baby steps which had giant step impact. After finishing this book the following words came to mind: charming, refreshing, dignity, delightful, informative, entertaining, readable, and upbeat. It was refreshing to read a story regarding Africa where the main theme was not about war, violence, extreme poverty, child soldiers, and “just falling apart”. Not that some of these conditions do not exist, but the emphasis is on the town and people of Otuam, Ghana and their everyday lives.
The book explains how the concept of “kings” and why it still exists in Ghana. I enjoyed learning the culture and customs of Ghana, especially of the Fante people which was integrated well into the storyline and not a distraction.
King Peggy is someone I would like to seat next to at a dinner party – her personality just shines through in this book. While reading this book I read about the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and this quote is so appropriate to King Peggy - “My sisters, my daughters, my friends — find your voice," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said after collecting her Nobel diploma and medal. Once again another African woman is making a positive change in Africa by confronting traditional protocols for the better of all – it seems that women are better at breaking the cycle of corruption. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories about grass-root movements and inspirational stories.