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Book 39 Completed

July 3, 2010

I’m sad to admit that “The Map of Love” and me just didn’t connect. Soueif is a beautiful writer; her attention to detail is fantastic and I really loved the way she described simple things, like sunsets, Egpyt’s landscape, fabrics, and food. I do feel like I can picture Egypt better after reading this. That’s really the whole purpose of this challenge: To experience new places through books. It was successful in that regard.

It’s just that the story didn’t capture me and so I remained bored and only semi-engaged for the last half of the book. I know — I know! I feel like a total failure! But if it weren’t for the challenge, this might have ended up back on the bookshelf. Just couldn’t reel me in. Maybe it’s me. It probably is. I’d love to hear a different perspective, so, if you read it, let me know what you think!

I kept waiting for some major plot threads to materialize or the characters to come to life for me, but they didn’t. So, this book is kinda like a beauty queen — gorgeous, but vapid and uninspiring. Also, I was a little disturbed by the book’s seeming laissez-faire attitude toward incest. AND — the whole structure of the novel took me until page 189 (about) to figure out. It’s told in a sort of herky-jerky fashion between the narrator, the narrator’s imaginings of the past, actual letters from the past, and then — toward the end — emails between the main characters as it ventures into the last part of the twentieth century where emails were making their appearance. There weren’t fluid transitions, especially in the beginning, and a lot of the letters from the great-grandma (one plot thread) weren’t really interesting to me — there was one whole letter about an opera, a restaurant, some furniture. Some of the scenes seemed ultimately futile to the story…so…I say (again! A big complaint of mine, I guess) write them for fun and then edit them away! I have missed my calling as a book editor with a large black marker. At 526 pages, it wasn’t like this book would have suffered with a little trim.

Soueif took too long to get to the meat of her story and by that time, I wasn’t willing to journey with her anymore — I was already eyeing my recent purchases of The Passage and Rebecca and lamenting that I wasn’t read this book fast enough to buy myself time to read those too!

I should say, I should press, I should make a point to communicate…I didn’t hate this book, but maybe I needed to be in a different mental state to penetrate its flaws and appreciate the prose despite them.

What I did like was all the political stuff about Egypt both in 1901 and 1997. Most of the criticism of this book says that the book doesn’t know what it wants to be and the political tangents detract from the story. But I thought it was interesting!! I’m mostly ignorant to Egypt’s history, so, I liked that part of the book.

Hope everyone in the US has a wonderful Independence Day. And everyone outside of the states — well, enjoy a firework free July 4th. I like fireworks to a degree, but Einstein gets all neurotic on me and when it’s midnight and people are still setting off loud booms down the street, to the detriment of my child’s bedtime, I’ll be a ball of fury.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2010 12:35 pm

    I’m sorry you didn’t like this. I’m suppose to read this myself for another challenge.. oh dear looks like I’m going to be in for a tough time.

    • July 17, 2010 12:55 pm

      I know! But you could totally disagree with me too! I’m actually looking forward to reading your opinion — to see if I am way off.

      I really wanted to like it — maybe you’ll see something in it that I couldn’t??

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