DubaiReader's Reviews > The Map of Love

The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif
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Mar 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: kutub-bk-grp, library, 2011
Read from March 29 to April 01, 2011

History and romance bound together.

This was quite a weighty read and the first time I read it, 8 years ago, I only gave it 1.5 stars. Having recently re-read it for a book group, I got far more out of it, appreciated the two love stories and didn't get bogged down in the politics. Even so, it's not an easy read and there are passages where the politics still became a bit dense. I particularly struggled with the Arab names, the Bashas and Beys etc.

Although we never really know how the trunk of Anna Winterbourne's letters and personal effects came to be in Isabel's possession, I enjoyed wading through her life alongside her great niece, Amal. As Amal reads chronologically through the journals, we learn of Anna's love affair with Sharif, a handsome Egyptian, and how they are both drawn into the events of the time.
Meanwhile Isobel is repeating history by her infatuation with Amal's brother, 'Omar.
It was an excellent tool for investigation into such a significant time in Egypt's history, without allowing the historical facts to become too overbearing.
The descriptions of the day to day life were wonderful and the characterisations were brilliant. I could feel the warm breeze in the private garden, alongside Anna and her new husband, I could almost smell the orange blossom.

There were one or two blips, the one supernatural event towards the end was a bit strange and the ending itself a bit frustrating. Also one genetic question, that I can't mention in any more detail, but which seemed a bit soap opera.
On the whole though, this was a worthwhile read with a fair bit of Egypt's history that I was fascinated to learn about.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Hiba Essa How are you finding it? will you be attending the Kutub session?
I might be calling you for directions so hope that is ok with you :) Cant wait to hear your views on this one.

DubaiReader An interesting question......
I first read this book 8 years ago and wasn't impressed - gave it 1.5 out of 5!!
In fact I wasn't going to read it again and as I couldn't remember anything about it, I was going to give this a miss and go to singing, which is where I'm supposed to be on a Monday (!!).
BUT, then you said you'd be coming over for the discussion and I thought, well, I can't miss the first one you've attended :)
So I borrowed it from the library and I'm about half way through, and enjoying it much more this time around. Perhaps I was just too green the first time, didn't appreciate it. I only started reading as a hobby when I returned here in 1999, so I suppose I was probably still in my chick-lit phase then!!
I'd lived here, originally, from 1984, so it wasn't a lack of awareness of the area, more likely a maturity in my reading that I have now.
So far it's been an interesting read, I don't remember anything at all from before! It should be good for discussion and I'm looking forward to it.
Well, where do you know in Dubai?
Kutub is in a gallery right by The Courtyard (which has been there for ages) off SZR.
You turn off SZR towards Al Manara St, going East. The Home Centre warehouse will be in front of you at a T junct. You turn right, then 1st right and left at another T junct. You will soon see The Courtyard on your right, pass that and not far beyond it the Third Line Gallery.
You have my number if you get lost - or I could meet you somewhere beforehand?? I live by Al Manara St West, so I don't have far to go!!
Could meet by Choithrams (not the one by Co-Op) if you like?? Discussion starts 7.45 (weird!) so I could meet you at, say, 7.25??

Hiba Essa Thanks DR! That was very useful and will definitely make it easier for me to find the way to the gallery on Monday :)
I am excited, maybe even a little too excited! But here's a secret.. it is the first official book club I will be attending.

wow! You are someone who has really seen the transformation of Dubai! Impressive!

Yes, I can imagine how The Map of Love (still think its a cheesy title) wont appeal to one who was used to reading chic lit.

Well, even though I have been a reader since early school years, chic lit and romance novels was a comfort genre i chose until very recently and so if i had read the Map of Love even just one year ago.. I doubt I would appreciate it as I do now :)

Cant wait to hear your thoughts on the book!

Goodbye for now and happy weekend!

Samantha Mays The Festival Reading Club are reviewing it tonight at the World Trade Centre Club, 7.30 pm .... Come along if you want to chat about it again. The author is coming to the Emirates Litfest next year.

DubaiReader Hi Samantha, yes I'm coming, not sure how much of the book I can remember though, even though I've read it twice!

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