To give you a feel for the novel, I took this off John's own website: In a village behind a towering stone temple of Twelfth Century Angkor lives a young woman named Sray. Her beauty and spiritual glow lead neighbors to compare her to the heroine of a Hindu epic. But in fact her serenity is marred by a dangerous secret. One rainy season afternoon she is called to a life of prominence in the royal court. There her faith and loyalties are tested by attentions from the great king Suryavarman II. Struggling to keep her devotion is her husband Nol, palace confidante and master of the silk parasols that were symbols of the monarch's rank.
This lovingly crafted first novel by former Washington Post correspondent John Burgess revives the rites and rhythms of the ancient culture that built the temples of Angkor, then abandoned them to the jungle. In telling her tale, Sray takes the reader to a hilltop monastery, a concubine pavilion and across the seas to the throne room of imperial China. She witnesses the construction of the largest of the temples, Angkor Wat, and offers an explanation for its greatest mystery - why it broke with centuries of tradition to face west instead of east. This is what John le Carre no less, had to say about John's novel; 'Burgess has done something that I believe is unique in modern writing: set a credible and seemingly authentic tale in the courts and temples of ancient Angkor to stir the imagination and excite our historical interest.' More at http://www.john-burgess.net/.