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King Peggy

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

by Eleanor Herman, Peggielene Bartels

King Peggy by Eleanor Herman, Peggielene Bartels X
King Peggy by Eleanor Herman, Peggielene Bartels
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2012, 352 pages
    Feb 2013, 368 pages

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Dorothy T. (02/18/12)

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 with great coverage--much less know how to govern these people.

The descriptions of the area, from the rutted roads to the ravaged palace, and of the people, comical or larcenous, bring the story to life. I particularly enjoyed reading about the unusual traditions and rituals that are a part of life in Ghana, such as pouring liberal amounts of liquor (or in some cases Coke) to attain the blessings of the ancestors before events like the enstoolment of a new king. At the same time, business owners are careful to choose names like By the Grace of God Brake and Clutch Center, believing that a religious reference would bring them good luck.

I finished this book amazed at King Peggy and how much she accomplished in just the first two years of her reign in spite of many obstacles and with the help of some loyal subjects. It is no wonder that the people of Otuan have come to love their king.
Carol N. (San Jose, CA) (01/17/12)

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-year adventure in beautiful Otuam. King Peggy arrives in Otuam to find its royal castle askew and the former king’s body awaiting a royal funeral. The story of Otuam with its lack of running water, doctors, hospitals, high school or town funding – all unfolds in a way that is stranger than fiction.

In this African society where women are still expected to lower their eyes and obey when addressed by men, feisty King Peggy with her headstrong resolve and spunk determined that the crown revenues were for the benefit of all of her people, not just a few of her shifty town elders.

This is a warm and wonderful read – the world needs more King Peggys!
Laura L. (St. Paul, MN) (01/05/12)

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. I laughed out loud a few times, rolled my eyes a bit but all in all this book is enjoyable and I am glad I got the chance to read it. I already recommended King Peggy to a friend of mine traveling to Ghana in the Spring. P.S. My students are learning a lot from it.
Kat F. (Palatine, IL) (01/03/12)

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!
Susan P. (Boston, MA) (01/03/12)

A Woman Makes a Strong King
KING PEGGY is a warm, delightful book. As has been pointed out, it will appeal to the fans of the No 1 Ladies Detective series. It's enjoyable to learn about modern life in Ghana and Africa, and about the foibles and strengths of various people, some of whom can be called "characters." While a little overly descriptive, that was in fact a calming attribute and was never boring. It is a compelling read, as you want to find out how and when Peggy will solve her may problems.
Suzanne R. (Nashville, TN) (12/31/11)

King Peggy -- Heartbreak and Triumph
King Peggy is an entertaining and uplifting tale of a humble embassy secretary who becomes king of an African community. Throughout the story of her first 2 years as king, she faces adversity on every hand, from poverty, theft and deceit to triumph in her efforts to create a better life for the people of her kingdom. Through it all, King Peggy's main concern is to improve the lives of the children she rules. King Peggy is part biography and part commentary on life in Ghana's rural communities. It reads like a novel with humor and heartbreak interspersed through the story. I will definitely recommend this book to many of my library patrons.
Paula K. (Cave Creek, AZ) (12/26/11)

King Peggy - An Inspiration
King Peggy is not a book I normally would have chosen since I tend more toward fiction. But I am so glad I chose it from the books available for review, drawn toward the comparison of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. For sure King Peggy shares the African locale, featuring a cast of whimsical characters living in often harsh conditions. And like No. 1 Ladies', King Peggy shares a compelling, forceful protagonist with one major exception -- Peggielene Bartels, aka King Peggy, is very real. Born in Ghana, Peggy was educated in England and makes her way to the United States, where she has worked as a secretary in the Ghana embassy for many years. Her suburban one-bedroom condominium is modest by some US standards, but to her family and friends from Ghana, she is living in the lap of luxury, having achieved a level of success that some entire villages will never reach. Yet Peggy's life is not terribly satisfying or exciting. She moves through each day putting one foot in front of the other, yearning for her absent husband who rejoined his family in Africa after several failed attempts at starting a family.

But a late-night call changes all that when she is informed of her election as King of Otuam. And so begins an adventure made both amazing and fantastical as Peggy's "Yankee" can-do approach blends seamlessly with the mystical teachings of her African heritage to catapult Peggy into a role that changes her life and that of the 7,000 souls in her Otuam home forever. I was enthralled, amazed, delighted, overwhelmed and inspired by King Peggy.
Penny N. (Saginaw, MI) (12/23/11)

Inspirational and Thought provoking
With women like this, Africa CAN survive. I've traveled in and read about Africa for many years. I have never read or seen anything as positive as what is related in this wonderful book. Nor have I read an honest picture of the continent as a whole, written by an African King. The king, Peggielene Bartels is from Ghana and a naturalized American citizen who is a secretary at the Ghanian embassy. The men of her small town, Otuam, vote for her to be King. They quickly learn this is a mistake. Sadly because most of Africa suffers from the same past i.e. the slave trade and "ownership" by the countries of Europe making Peggy king breaks the mold. Through her, glimpse how Africa "works": Its religions, food, poverty, lack of clean water, politics, oppressive heat and much more. The book is written in an open and simple style. You feel you are part of the experience not being hit over the head. You cheer for Peggy and her faith in everyone.

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