Connie Mayo's Reviews > Palace Walk

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
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's review
May 18, 2011

really liked it
Read from May 18 to June 02, 2011

I'm not sure if I would have stuck with this one if it had not been a book club book, but I am glad that I did.

The good points are: it's well written and a fascinating portrait of a super-conservative family even relative to their conservative (by our standards) community in Cairo in the early part of the century (1917, I think). The double standards are staggering. To me the more familiar narrative one would read today would be about females who rebel against these extreme limitations - say, never being allowed to leave the house FOR DECADES except a handful of hard-won times to visit your mother in a covered carriage with your tyrannical husband - but the main female characters in this book are very accepting of this lifestyle, which I found way more interesting.

But I can't give it 5 stars because there is a serious lack of plot in the beginning of the book. I noted that the first thing that actually happens, plot-wise, is on PAGE 200. It's hard to believe that a book today by an American author would be published if nothing happened until page 200. But Mahfouz just takes his sweet time in character development, and though it was done well it was maddening in the beginning. Also, the political part, which begins very late in the book, seems to come out of nowhere and was hard to follow, due to my ignorance about what was going on in Egypt at this time. I think if the book started earlier and in smaller doses about the politics, I might have understood more.

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