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Staircase of a Thousand Steps

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Set in Transjordan just before the 1967 war with Israel, Staircase of a Thousand Steps is a "remarkably well-written...thoroughly absorbing novel" (Arizona Daily Sun) that takes us to a place where memory whispers like fear, where visions of a long-ago forbidden love affair haunt a precocious young girl and where the flare of old rivalries can be as sudden as searing as ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by Blue Hen (first published 2001)
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Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting read even though it galloped to the end. I am a fan of Masha Hamilton. Though I only have minimal knowledge of the area and people of the world of which she writes, it seems as though she captures the essence. Staircase of a Thousand Steps is set in Jordan in the late sixties. It is a book about the relationships between men and women and family and the choices made. There isn't much that isn't touched on.

You will also want to read Hamilton's The Camel Bookmobile.
Bryan Montallana
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is underrated. Many people deserve to read such books like this... It's a book about the journey of finding answers, the people you unexpectedly met during and after that time, and unconditional love. ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've labelled this "coming of age" as, in many ways, that is really what is about. It's about Jammana's coming to terms with life in an unforgiving adult world, a world where women are seen but not heard, and omens and superstitions are the foundations of daily life. I found myself transported to the Jordanian desert by the author's use of detail.

There are sentences of pure poetry in this book. One that jumped out at me was of a husband thinking of his dead wife: "Alula had been the elegant curv
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my first book about the Middle East and I was absolutely taken aback! Set in a fictional village in Jordan in 1967, right before the 6-Day-War with Israel. The narrative is compelling but it takes time to absorb the way the story unfolds: the cause and effect into the islamic culture is way different from what I would expect, unconsciously. And because of that, I loved it. It made me revisit some interior concepts in order to understand and enjoy the book. So many hidden conflicts that s ...more
Emily Goode
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in 1967 Jordan, Staircase of a Thousand Steps tells the stories of Faridah, an outcast midwife, Harif, a shepherd, and Harif’s granddaughter Jammana. This is a quick but very good read with stories from the characters’ pasts woven in with the current events in the book.
Candis Joyce
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like this author's books. I recommend them for anyone who likes culturally influenced, historical fiction. Her books have made me think about the world in a different light. ...more
Sep 16, 2019 added it
Fascinating, magical, revelatory.......
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Jammana, a 11-year-old girl experiences an unsettling coming of age in a Jordanian village. She possesses an ancestral gift that allows her to see the past, travels with her mother, Rafa, against her father's wishes, to Rafa's birthplace, the ancient village of Ein Fadr.

The story is told from the perspective of each character and spans four generations of a family immediately preceding the 1967 war with Israel.

Visions of her family's past are in Jammana's dreams. Because the dreams are incompl
Mar 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Very readable. The characters were interesting and generally likeable, and the setting (a small Muslim village in Transjordan in the late 1960's)was interesting as well. One noticable thing about the story was its treatment of women. Many stories about the Middle East and Muslim societies focus on the domination of the women by the men; in Staircase, the overt power of the men (both societal and physical) is both tempered and circumvented by the influence of the women...interesting (how many tim ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
OOoooOOO, all the feels that get felt with this book. Another place, another time, another culture, I feel the sand on my cheek, smell the bread on the outdoor fire, feel the love of father for child, man for woman, child for mother. All of the entanglements of past choices and current events in a Middle Eastern village clinging to the past while surrounded by war and modern times. A family blessed and cursed with foresight and hindsight knowing they cannot change the will of Allah.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book, even though it was slow to get into and the ending kind of fell flat. But it was well-written and the character development was solid. It was interesting to me to learn a little about Jordanian villages and customs, along with the superstitions that drive the people to do what they do, much of which is not lawful or socially acceptable (in our society).
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
How tradition can run and ruin lives. I would recommend this book. I finished it within a weekend, and that's what this book is great for - a nice weekend read with a compelling story. The ending felt a bit rushed but I wasn't disappointed by it; it seemed fitting, as the main character's life was a whirlwind at that point. I only wish there had been more about the dynamic between Ahmed and Rafa. ...more
May 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is my 4th book about the middle east. The syntax of the languages, the colors of the land, the sounds of it's cities... the middle east has "gotten under my skin." I think I've fallen in love. And now it lays waste from war after war, invasion after invasion. The world needs to give the middle east time to heal, time for the traumatized people, and time for the ravaged environment. ...more
Jun 19, 2010 rated it liked it
This covers conformity and consequences in a small, Middle Eastern Village but could be set in almost any small town anywhere. There is a lyrical, haunting quality to the novel, though, that is mystical as it deals with various gifts of seeing that several of the characters have.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Set in the Middle East this story gives you a feel of what remains after war. After reading first page of the book, I knew I will not be able to put it down and I didn't. ...more
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was an interesting book from a cultural viewpoint, however, it was sad and had a dissatisfying ending. I recommend The Kite Runner instead.
Apr 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A beautiful story of inner strength, overcoming patriarchy and tradition, and love. Highly recommended - this author writes lyrically.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
fun to read...different structure of storytelling was challenging and fun.
May 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who love history and a great story
So evocative. Hamilton really puts the reader in her books, and the characters are beautifully drawn.
Andy Plonka
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: src
Despite being set in the 20th century, this tale has feel of ancient times within family relationships. The women are much more forceful than their ancient counterparts would have been.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-favs
Wonderfully evocative, great descriptions, reads like a modern fable.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! There is some sadness, but also strengh, goodness, and hope. And some very strong women.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Well-written. But I felt like there was an ending, but I wanted a new beginning.
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Masha Hamilton is the author of five novels: Staircase of a Thousand Steps, (2001) a Booksense pick by independent booksellers and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection; The Distance Between Us, (2004) named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, The Camel Bookmobile, (2007) also a Booksense pick, and 31 Hours, named by the Washington Post as one of the best books of ...more

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