The book's cover image is enticing, and the stories richly depict Morocco in an almost cinematic way, reminiscent of "The Sheltering Sky" and "Hideous Kinky." The author offers 26 vignettes based on seven years of living in Morocco. She kicks off with the eye-opening visit to a public bath, "An Afternoon at the Hammam," and then proceeds to one of my favorites, "Rabiah's House."
The taciturn mother of a new Moroccan friend, Rabiah generously loans the author her house in Agadir, and even accompanies her there.The location allows the author to make a genuine connection with local people, and Rabiah's motherly warmth comes across as she cooks for her and even tucks in her British charge.
My other personal favorite is "The night of the fiftieth birthday," a story about an evening at a Marrakesh restaurant on the author's birthday, where Sammi, a solitary Turkish visitor, is seated next to her table. "How brave to celebrate alone," Sammi says. The romantic story that follows will ring true for many women who have met Mediterranean men.
"Zohra's Ladder" is a strong read for armchair travelers, or those poolside in Morocco, or flying there. The vignettes move quickly (I got lost in the stories during a train ride to Washington) and its insights make a great companion to a guidebook. Kudos also to Windo for the writing itself, bright and bracing like the desert and mountains of this exotic North African land.