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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Home renovation at its best.
Moving house can be traumatic at the best of times. Moving to a different country can be even more so, there's the language to contend with, the clash of cultures and if you're unlucky a whole host of Jinn to excise. Tahir Shah, an Afghan by blood but an Englishman by nature writes the most exquisite upper class prose of his move to Casablanca. He turns the normally dull...
Published on 6 Feb 2007 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but low on facts
I did somewhat enjoy reading this book, but as a entertaining story and not as a factual account of living in Morocco, indeed the whole feeling that any facts are heavily added to in order to improve the story never goes away. From the start the story is based around the premise of a 'poor' author buying a house in a poor suburb of Casablanca, despite a lengthy...
Published on 27 Dec 2011 by PVWatson


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Home renovation at its best., 6 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Caliph's House (Paperback)
Moving house can be traumatic at the best of times. Moving to a different country can be even more so, there's the language to contend with, the clash of cultures and if you're unlucky a whole host of Jinn to excise. Tahir Shah, an Afghan by blood but an Englishman by nature writes the most exquisite upper class prose of his move to Casablanca. He turns the normally dull subject if house renovation into the most fantastic series of adventures that deal with the mundane issues of bribing various officials to the adventures bordering on the supernatural where he deals with the various Jinn's that plague his stay. Expect to learn a lot about the culture and customs of Morocco, but this is not the sort of travel writing to profoundly move you or inspire you. This more the sort that makes you chuckle gently as you read away a blissful Sunday afternoon.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wonderful!" says London lady who loves horses, 30 Mar 2006
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Caliph's House (Hardcover)
This book is unputdownable. Just one more page....and then suddenly its all over and you wish there was more. It is funny, sensitive, and a real journey in time and space. The rich tapestry of this family's building of a life in their Caliph's House brought me sunshine, filling my life and transporting me away from the grim grey London winter into another dimension. A perfect antidote to February & March.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every page a joyous adventure, 22 May 2007
This review is from: The Caliph's House (Paperback)
When I picked up this book I found it very hard to put down. Entering the sixth year of renovations on my own period house on the coast, I had to admire Tahir for just simply taking it all on. Yes I know he had the money and did little physical work himself, but the amount of effort required to just get someone else to do even the simplest of jobs in the way he wanted them done, brought back many horrendous memories. Workmen (especially builders) throughout the world must have all inherited the same genes somewhere along the line. A different culture, language, work ethic and a way of life steeped with superstition and weird and wonderful customs, made the renovation of the Caliph's House a once in a lifetime project. If this man moves on with his family, he surely has a backbone of steel. Don't consider that this book will be an encyclopedia of DIY hints and tips, it's more a guide on how to maintain an open mind and how to be be a project manager. Who knows, if more widely read, it could be the sole cause of a slump in the Moroccan real estate market ! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this convoluted tale of overcoming adversity and can highly recommend it to everyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid account of a new life in Casablanca, 25 Feb 2006
By 
J. Stack (Kildare, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Caliph's House (Hardcover)
Tahir Shah's latest book finds him in Casablanca with his wife and 2 children. An old house, haunted by a Jinn, has been bought and is in need of major refurbishment... this is the backgound to a charming and insightful book on life in 21st. century Casablanca. His touch is as light and humourous as ever.
Regular readers of the author's work, will be used to madcap escapades in every corner of the world. Tahir Shah has settled down, somewhat, to family life and has left London for the colour of Casablanca.
The cast of characters is broad, tradesmen, helpers, fixers, unwanted guests, local mafia; all described with the author's trademark humour and wit.
New readers are strongly recommended to read his other books, ideally in sequence. Tahir also finds new information on his Grandfather's last years also spent in Morocco.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey, 26 Feb 2006
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This review is from: The Caliph's House (Hardcover)
‘Your grandfather taught us so many things, but the thing that affected me most was his advice to seek out what is no immediately seen. He said that on the surface, the carrot is a mere tuft of green, but under the ground there’s a root waiting to be found… He always told me to meet ordinary people. “The ordinary world”, he would say, “is complete”’. These words, revealed by an old acquaintance of Ikbal Ali Shah, probably set Tahir Shah on the right track, and his nightmare about how to settle in a new house, in fact how to settle in a strange environment, took another turn. As the zillij pattern he was trying to lay down in his house, the many sided events he encountered needed the background of a whole design to make sense.
Amazing reading, as the palace Dar-al-Caliph, a remote dream of a sunny unshackled life in Morocco, away from the safe-hygienic-boring life in England, becomes an entity of its own, a melting pot where dreams fade away and not finding the warp and weft of the unfolding situation may mean loosing everything. Not to be missed the advice given by his wife, when the situation becomes mad: ‘If you want the house done you have to be like a Moroccan’.
‘Jinns, collecting the grandfather’s legacy, the underbelly of Moroccan life, more jinns, old age crafts, guile, the humour of the absurd, the world seen from one of its peculiar corners ….’
Read it, perhaps you may find a piece of zillij, or a broken tile that may fit somewhere in your own house.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His best book so far, 3 Feb 2006
This review is from: The Caliph's House (Hardcover)
This book lives up to all expectations and then some. It gives everything promised in the blurb and more. Tahir Shah is a brilliant writer and is extremely readable and I think this is his best book yet (which is quite an accolade considering how good his others are!). Highly recommended. Tahir Shah comes from a family of writers, yet holds his own and writes with ease and attention to detail. This is a book that I shall return to again and again and it has certainly made me want to visit Morocco!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars home makeover was never like this..., 5 Feb 2006
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Caliph's House (Hardcover)
Tahir Shah in a series of books has been showing to us very different worlds existing outside our Western urban reality. His last book ("House of the Tiger King") involved almost unbelievable hardship looking for a lost city in Amazonian rainforest. Here the setting is much closer, a seemingly westernised city in Morocco, and the action more domestic - doing up a house for his wife and two young children - but the worlds he encounter are still as fantastic and danger as present. He shows us through the great variety of people he encounters that a society can really operate on very different assumptions to our own. There is a simple conviction that evil spirits are part of our everyday world and so all our actions must take account of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant straight-through read, 7 Feb 2006
This review is from: The Caliph's House (Hardcover)
Could not put it down is a cliche - but it was true for this book and me. I made the mistake of starting to read at 9pm and was still sitting in a chair after everyone else had gone to bed flipping pages and laughing out loud at 4.30am. It is one of very few books I have read straight through.
Although very funny there is a gentle sweetness about this tale of expatriation to a land of magic and amazing characters who live both more firmly in the real world and also acknowledge the power of mystery and magic in their day to day lives. You never get the impression that anyone in Morocco spends much time watching telly, so they have to fall back on life.
The Caliph's House made me want to up sticks and move - to remove the safety net of a society obsessed with regulations about the dangers to children of falling conkers (horse chestnuts) and admonishments never to talk to an adult if you are a child. Morocco is painted in such attractive terms - exotic yet accessible with patience and determination - any parent would be happy to see their children grown up there.
A book I shall re-read in a few days time and one I can certainly recommend without any hestitation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thoughtful, 10 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Caliph's House (Hardcover)
Fed up with the drudgery of British life, author Tahir Shah packs up and leaves with his wife and kids for a new exotic life in Morocco, in the end finding more than he'd originally bargained for. Meanwhile, he delves into the life of his grandfather, an Afghan diplomat, who spent his last years in Tangier.
A great, pacy read which manages to hit numerous important 'bells' along the way: the search for a more 'engaged' life, the current radicalisation of Islam, the importance of never giving up when everything seems to be against you. Shah seems to be a colourful guy living in a colourful country: a perfect, but sometimes explosive combination!
This was the first book of his I've read, after a recommendation from a friend. I shall be looking out for some of his previous titles based on this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but low on facts, 27 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Caliph's House (Paperback)
I did somewhat enjoy reading this book, but as a entertaining story and not as a factual account of living in Morocco, indeed the whole feeling that any facts are heavily added to in order to improve the story never goes away. From the start the story is based around the premise of a 'poor' author buying a house in a poor suburb of Casablanca, despite a lengthy description of how he found and bought the house, for some reason he does not disclose the purchase price, maybe that would take away from the author's own 'poverty'. Also, the author admits speaking very little french or arabic but recounts several detailed conversations with workmen/tradespeople, how can this be? The whole storyline while interesting feels like serveral stories told in a way to appear like it all happened in the space of a single year.
I'd say if you want an ok bedside read this will do, if you want an accurate recounting of life in Morocco, you'd need to look elsewhere.
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The Caliph's House
The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah (Paperback - 1 Feb 2007)
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