October 10, 2011
When we had decided to put it on this year’s list of books I was thrilled as I had loved it when I read it about ten years ago and so I introduced it.
I had enjoyed my second read but this time had found it rather long and drawn out in places.
It interwines two love stories – one set in the early 1900′s and one in the late years of that century. The early story is beautifully portrayed and give us the opportunity to enjoy some lyrical poetry, vivid descriptions of the desert and an insight into the way the Egyptians and their British ‘advisers’ existed together in this exciting and exotic part of the world.
The modern love story does not have the same resonance and we all agreed that we found the New York couple rather unconvincing and lacking conviction. But perhaps this is how modern relationships are in comparison!
Having learnt a lot more about Ahdaf Soueif and her involvement in the Arab Spring, I was interested to read her telling of Egyptian history from the late 1800′s to 1997. And how fascinating it was in the light of what has happened in the Middle East this year. She had warned what would take place throughout the world and was frighteningly accurate in her predictions.
The book provoked a heated discussion about colonialism and Britain’s involvement – this is what is so interesting about our discussions – they are not only about the books!
I would say the eight members who attended were evenly divided on their like/dislike of the book. I would recommend anyone to take it on a long journey – it would keep you interested and occupied for hours. And my particular favourite aspect of the book is the very cleverly selected passages AS has chosen to introduce each chapter – these alone are great food for thought and demonstrate her wonderful knowledge of English literature.