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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Cocktail, 13 July 2006
Well Read "saro319" (Norhampton England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Almond (DOCTOR WHO) (Paperback)
The Almond is a delicious cocktail of sensual discovery. This is a racy, amusing, poignant and beautifully crafted love story. The bud opens after an initial ghastly marriage. Nedjma flees to her Aunt Selma, an unforgettable strong, wise, vibrant and unconventional woman. Nejma's lover Driss, draws her into the ecstasy and the agony of love. This is an intelligent novel taking the reader into the culture and customs of Nedjma's village, and family life. The sophistication of Tangiers and the sexual mores of her lovers circle of friends. The story sparkles, has some surprises, above all, it is much more than an erotic novel although explicit. One I couldn't put down. As a woman, I could relate to Nedjma's story. That it is written by an Arab woman is a first.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Almond, A Critical Review, 2 Aug 2009
Andre Lawrence (Miami, Florida) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Almond (DOCTOR WHO) (Paperback)
Recently, "Nedjma," author of The Almond stated that her novel is semi-autobiographical, about 40% and the remainder a true picture of a few Muslim women in her community.
To some extent, I can accept The Almond as a portrait of life in a repressive- even by near-eastern standards-rural Imchouk. However, it is far more than a tawdry tale of the underground social life of Tangiers's elite. I read The Almond as a two-prong story. The first story, initially narrated by a near 50-year "Badra," whom gleefully proclaims she's in possession of the Near East's most beautiful fruit as she narrates the story of her life until this point.

And, the second, subtler, but no less provocative, is the story of the environment. Indeed, this form of repression is systematic and quiet, constantly regenerating and regurgitating its hapless victims. In this world, the old axiom "actions speak louder than words" regularly repeats itself and takes on an insidious metamorphosis, as actions not only speak louder than words, but speaks in place of words and free-thought. The only crime these women commit is one of pure silence.

This, of course, begs the questions, who are these role models for Badra? What does Badra see in the women of Imchouk? Imchouk is home to the forbidden world of silent women. Silent, unfulfilled women whose aborted dreams gives way to the exciting world of dishwashing and laundry, daily trips to the market (where she exchanges the ever-intriguing art of recipe-swapping) from there it's back to preparing the three meals for the family and the expected, special meal for the husband followed by after-meal "consumption.")

When we meet young Badra, she and her friends are at that delicate place in their lives where the natural physiological course is ushering them into young adulthood. Because of the environment, the obligatory discussions never occur. As we understand (and expect) Badra and her friends go on their own discreet, fact-finding mission. The answers, at least the temporary ones, come in inquisitive moments of self-discovery and communal participation.

Badra also witnesses varying degrees of violence against women. At home, she observes her mother's cruel treatment of a young girl who bears a child for Badra's irresponsible older brother. This young woman, a daughter of a baker, loses her name, her male-child and eventually her life. The boy would grow up only to be identified as the son of Badra's brother.

Within a short time, she too becomes the victim as she's ceremoniously raped on her wedding day. She was betrothed to a wealthy and impotent bigamist. Being an expert on human reproduction, this owner of two other unhealthy wives, suspects that the newly fertile Badra would be in optimum condition to bear him a son he so richly deserves. There only one problem, Romeo is unable to consummate the relationship and appeals to his mother, no less, for help. She, in turn, enlists the services of Badra's mother and sister in the de-flowering process.

Badra leaves her husband, home and the life she's always known for Tangiers and her Aunt Selma. Before long, Badra chooses a piano-playing, renaissance man and one of the town's notorious philanderers. In their initial meeting, Badra very explicitly describes her seduction. Initially, a torrent love affair that, I suppose, would make viewers of Desperate Housewives jealous as a spurned lover.

There's a moment in every relationship when one asks, where are we going from here? Badra musters up the courage and in the most memorable of scenes I can remember she gets her answer. And, it would inform how she'd relate to people from then on.

My opinion has never wavered in my respect and admiration for this story or independent thinkers, in general. But I must bring to light something very important to bear in mind when reading The Almond, that certain unsophisticated reader have erroneously mislabel this novel as being pornographic. And that is, at no time does the narrator (Badra/ Nedjma) ever realize that she is not all-knowing. This is extremely important because, neither the character, nor the author can claim nor suggest that the path that the main character follows is the right one. In fact, the winding road which Badra was forced to take was one of sheer desperation and not of forethought or temptation. In other words, she made the best decision she could with the information and the freedom she was afforded.

I hope you, too, enjoy this marvelous book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the casbah, 16 Aug 2008
Mr. WA Bowman "a-bowman" (Spain formerly UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Almond (DOCTOR WHO) (Paperback)
Excellent and intriguing story of a woman's life as the mistress of a rich man in a country where it is not unknown for such women to be stoned to death while the perversity of her lover is ignored.

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The Almond (DOCTOR WHO)
The Almond (DOCTOR WHO) by Nedjma (Paperback - 3 July 2006)
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