Book Reviews, Misc

Book Review: The Governor’s Daughter by Sambath Meas

*** This book was reviewed for Reader’s Favourite

Meas’ The Governor’s Daughter is a beautiful historical fiction set in the backdrop of colonial Cambodia. Anjali, against the current cultural norms, works with her father in Siem Reap doing detective work. Til now, Anjali has work petty crimes, theft and the like. She’s ready for more, and gets the unexpected chance when the man she is quite smitten with is accused of a horrific crime, and her friend Esme is at the epicentre of a terrible event. Now Anjali is in a race against time, to help the ones she loves, and stop a vicious killer on the loose.

The Governor’s Daughter is lush with vibrant depictions of 1920s Cambodia, bringing its history and evolving culture to life.  Historical fiction is among my favourite things to read, because of the chance to learn about different cultures in different contexts. This country and culture is not one familiar to me and I found it fascinating enough to go research more on my own. There I discovered the archaeology! Words in the Khmer language are woven in. Most are obvious by the context, but where they are not, a translation is snuck in.

Sadly, reading this really hit home in regards to our current US political situation. Rabid discrimination against women, folks other than whites, and those who are disabled is beginning to prevail again. We are echoing our colonial ancestors, wherever they landed, instead of learning from those mistakes and prejudices. Meas seems true to the historic conditions of the Khmer people during this time, when most were treated as third-rate citizens in their own country.

The story is told first person, from Anjali’s POV. This means we get her musings and she is the one who shares with us her thoughts on the cultures and the times. At times, these musings can seem repetitive, though it did not bother me. Anjali herself comes across as a bit flat, lacking in the depth other parts of the story have.

????? Highly recommended for lovers of historic mysteries, and historical fiction.

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