Hannah's Reviews > Talking about Jane Austen in Baghdad: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship

Talking about Jane Austen in Baghdad by May Witwit
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May 31, 11

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As you can imagine, this book held special attraction for me (I love Jane Austen AND I'm in Baghdad!). The book is written in the form of emails between Bee Rowlatt, a employee with BBC and May Witwit, an Iraqi citizen. (Epistolary books are AWESOME!)

The book was light on Jane Austen and heavy on May & Bee's opinions on the war. Despite that, I found both women compelling. I giggled at Bee's trials of raising three young daughters and sympathized with May over the frequent sandstorms. May's side of the story is a little darker- May's perspective on the war in Iraq is very personal and very negative. Even though I live in Baghdad, I'm not sure how most Iraqis feel. I talked to an Iraqi shopkeeper today who was arguing for continued US presence. So opinions about the War in Iraq are just as varied in Iraq as they are in the US.

May's opinion of Islam and women's rights is intriguing and her emotional description of meeting Saddam Hussein is incredible. I recommend this book if you don't mind a little anti-US feeling or if you are genuinely interested in an Iraqi perspective on the war. If you are looking for a conversation about Jane Austen, perhaps you should look elsewhere- Ms. Austen is mentioned a handful of times in 350+ pages.
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