Set in Singapore in the 1920, “The Moonlight Palace” is a novella that explores the often blurry and always complex web of cultural heritage. Agnes, the young female protagonist, who is the last surviving member of her royal family, lives in a crumbling palace with a diverse cast of characters and an equally diverse set of suitors. Issues of loyalty, greed, and imperialism are explored in this story.
Sentences Worth Studying
- “Unlike friends and schoolmates, who share exciting flying dreams, where they sail away over the tiled rooftops through surging gray clouds beyond tiny Singapore, in my own dreams I skim low through the rooms of the palace, barely above the ground. I see the patterned carpets, the wooden floorboards worn to the smoothness of satin. But never have I risen above the level of the palace ceiling, not even in my dreams” (1).
- “I had not finished my history assignment for the night, but I fell asleep with the book in my hand” (18).
- “If you think you have come to an unhappy ending, it is not the true end. Keep going awhile” (26).
- “No one had a better eye for beauty than the blind man” (32).
- “Wei’s face was bruised and swollen, and there was blood slowly seeping out of the corner of his mouth. He pressed a handkerchief to the wound, and every few minutes one of the guards brought him a fresh handkerchief and chips of ice. That was the strangest part, I thought—to do this to another human being, and then bring him clean linen and ice” (54).
- “I expected grandfather to stand up and walk away with Brown. I had forgotten that he was confined to that chair. So many facts of our life slipped from my mind that night—our extreme helplessness, our poverty, the impossibility of our whole situation” (59).
- “Because we never had a Christmas tree, all of our decorations were left over from Chinese festivals, complimented by a few bright items I managed to salvage from Deepavali” (71).
- “With our silly crepe paper hats on, the tips of the hats drooping, we looked like inmates at an imbecile institution, or an inebriate asylum. What a foolish holiday Christmas was!” (77).
- “Geoffrey, a handsome, pale specter, looked out of place among these Singaporean high-school girls. It was as if a man from inside a moving picture had stepped down among us, bringing with him all of the background noise and music, the white light of Hollywood, California” (103).
- “I learned for the first time that when we lose the people closest to us, we tend to become more like them—as if to fill immediately the unbearable lack they have left behind. We take on their habits, their mannerisms, sometimes even their style of dress” (114).
- “I lived in perpetual dread of my former suitor moving his oily self onto our property. Everything I’d found attractive in him now turned my stomach. The unnatural color of his eyes. His wavy yellow hair, which was probably dyed. The idea that he might have any claim against us made me ill. But I steeled myself for the confrontation that was coming. He would not simply skulk away, I knew” (117).
- “I slipped back into my accustomed place at the paper. Strangely enough, I found it comforting to work with grown men who ignored me almost completely. Ink-stained, disheveled, balding, foul-mouthed, sweaty, heads down, they rushed from story to story, deadline to deadline” (121).
- “They say that the ocean is always calm and still, many fathoms down, no matter how wildly it may churn on the surface. I discovered a similar calm in myself as I walked and walked around, in long, looping parabolas. And it’s a lucky thing, too, for one more hurdle lay just ahead” (131).
- “Holding the note, I strode to the front door and opened it, the fragrance of the mimosas rising up as fresh as mango, the two-toned call of the night bird, the koel, springing from the riverbank to Jurong Hill” (164).