Summary and book reviews of King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels

King Peggy

An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village

By Peggielene Bartels, Eleanor Herman

King Peggy
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2012,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2013,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

The charming real-life fairy tale of an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king of an impoverished fishing village on the west coast of Africa. King Peggy has the sweetness and quirkiness of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and the hopeful sense of possibility of Half the Sky.

King Peggy chronicles the astonishing journey of an American secretary who suddenly finds herself king to a town of 7,000 souls on Ghana's central coast, half a world away. Upon arriving for her crowning ceremony in beautiful Otuam, she discovers the dire reality: there's no running water, no doctor, and no high school, and many of the village elders are stealing the town's funds. To make matters worse, her uncle (the late king) sits in a morgue awaiting a proper funeral in the royal palace, which is in ruins. The longer she waits to bury him, the more she risks incurring the wrath of her ancestors.

Peggy's first two years as king of Otuam unfold in a way that is stranger than fiction. In the end, a deeply traditional African town has been uplifted by the ambitions of its headstrong, decidedly modern female king. And in changing Otuam, Peggy is herself transformed, from an ordinary secretary to the heart and hope of her community.

King Peggy

When the council meeting ended at six, the sun was just rising and the world outside was silver. The elders returned to their fields to do some work before the day became too hot. Peggy went to her room to rest a bit and saw a line of children with heavy metal buckets of water on their heads trudging down the path from the bore hole behind the house. Some of them were headed for her kitchen.

Auntie Esi stood next to Peggy as she gazed out the window. "How far do they walk?" Peggy asked.

"There are only two bore holes, so the kids that live furthest away have to walk about a half hour in each direction."

"An hour for a single bucket," Peggy said quietly.

"And some kids make two or three trips before and after school. Some walk for six hours a day."

"Is the water clean at least?"

Auntie Esi shrugged. "It's not clean if you haul it from the pond. That water is a yellowish-brown, and that's what the entire town had to use when the pipes ...

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Reviews

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Peggielene Bartels's real-life fairy tale about being chosen as king in an African village has inspired positive reviews from BookBrowse readers. 22 out of 25 people rate King Peggy 4 or 5 stars! Here's what they have to say:

What a wonderful book! It shows what one seemingly small, insignificant person can do to change the lives of so many people. King Peggy is my new hero. Long live the King (Kat F)! 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 (Shelby L). The story of what Peggy accomplishes is nothing short of amazing. The book is full of many interesting characters, and the often dire situations are described with a good deal of humor. This is a wonderful, uplifting story (Donna W).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews
The Baltimore Review

King Peggy is a great case study on how one person - with the proper encouragement and support - can bring light and life to a community.

Kirkus Reviews

Bartels and Herman team up to craft a fast-paced potboiler. Florid description of the landscape, culture and characters work together to fully evoke the rhythms of African life. Ultimately, readers come away with not only a sense of how King Peggy was able to transform Otuam, but also an understanding of how the town and its inhabitants transformed her

Author Blurb Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
This is an astonishing and wonderful book about a real life Mma Ramotswe. It is an utter joy.

Author Blurb Deborah Rodriguez, author of Kabul Beauty School
King Peggy is a wondrous tale of how a woman rose to great heights in circumstances one would never dream of, in a place which most of us cannot imagine living. Compelling and heartwarming, it is a most enjoyable and absorbing read.

Reader Reviews
Dorothy T.

Long live King Peggy
King Peggy (Nana Amuah-Afenyi VI) gave me insight into the ordinary lives of not so ordinary people in a place I can only read about. I can’t imagine a life with no running water or flush toilets--thankfully, the people of Otuan have cell phones ...   Read More

Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

It's not easy being KING!
What does a naturalized American and secretary at the Ghanaian embassy in Washington do when she finds herself king of a small fishing village of 7,000 souls located on Ghana’s central coast? She accepts the challenge of a lifetime and begins her 2-...   Read More

Laura L. (St. Paul, MN)

King Peggy
I am really enjoying King Peggy and have decided to read the book aloud to my 9th grade World History class. The culture, customs and history of Ghana are fascinating and the author does a good job of following Peggy's journey from secretary to King...   Read More

Kat F. (Palatine, IL)

Nothing short of inspirational
What a wonderful book! It shows what one small, insignificant person (as the world might consider them) can do to change the lives of so many people. King Peggy is my new hero. Long live the King!

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A Message of Hope from King Peggielene Bartels

In an inspirational letter to readers, Peggielene Bartels (aka King Peggy) outlines her goals as the new King of Otuam, Ghana. She begins by stating that:

An important part of my mission as King of Otuam is to bring empowerment to women. I truly believe that the future of Africa lies in the hands of its women... My main mission is to bring Otuam into a prosperous future, to make it a modern, healthful place to live and work. It already has many advantages: beautiful weather, lovely beaches, an ocean teeming with fish, rich soil, and friendly, hardworking people. But it needs greater access to clean water, improved medical care and educational institutions, repaved roads, hygienic toilets, and many other basic necessities of life.

...

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