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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine romance.
If you love books which transport you to another world (in this case, at least two different worlds in two different time periods), which give you fascinating insights into other cultures, which incorporate a good deal of history into an exciting and completely developed story line, and which introduce you to a main character so charming and intelligent that you hate to...
Published on 22 Sep 2003 by Mary Whipple

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It never got going
I belong to a Book Club and "The Map of Love" was the latest book we were reading. I started out full of hope, but found it far too wordy - I just couldn't get on with the style of writing. It is not often I give up on a book - I usually persevere until the end. However, on this occasion, by the time I got to about Page 200, I was beginning to give up the will to live,...
Published on 8 Aug 2011 by Mrs. B. D. Hollidge


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine romance., 22 Sep 2003
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
If you love books which transport you to another world (in this case, at least two different worlds in two different time periods), which give you fascinating insights into other cultures, which incorporate a good deal of history into an exciting and completely developed story line, and which introduce you to a main character so charming and intelligent that you hate to have her disappear at the end of the novel, you will be thoroughly captivated by Map of Love.
Anna Winterbourne, an aristocratic young widow from England, travels to Egypt in the late 19th century during the height of British Empire. She notes the condescension towards the Egyptians and is intelligently critical of military "adventures" there and in other Arab states such as the Sudan, South Africa, and Palestine. As she comes to know the Egyptian people and falls in love with an Egyptian, the reader--along with Anna's granddaughter and great-granddaughter, who are reading the letters and diaries which reveal her story--learns much about the past history which has so complicated presentday relations between western and Arab countries.
Like most romances, this one requires you to accept a very high level of coincidence, but that is more than offset by fine descriptive writing, fully drawn characters, and the placing of a great many recent Middle Eastern events into their Arab contexts. This Egyptian author succeeds in presenting events from an Arab point of view to a western audience--a view that is culturally honest without being polemical. Mary Whipple
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars six stars .... at least, 5 Aug 2001
By 
das1@lineone.net (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
The book shows two snapshots of Egypt, at the start and the end of the 20th Century. There are many similar problems which Egypt faces but essentially, despite all the political manoeuvres the problems get worse.
The history was not well known to me, and with reading this book and English Passengers I have learnt far more about the dodgy british colonial past than any history lessons ever taught me.
But the book is much more than that. It brings together the two eras, with a wonderfull love story. To have a book with four heroines Anna , Isabel, Amal and Layla is a real treat. The writing does evoke the times and the places very well, you can feel the heat of the desert and the sand ( and that was not just because I was reading the book on Weymouth beach !)
Yes I will admit some of the politics, but mainly the number of arab names, lost me and I did not fully get the tapestry bit, but that does not make it any the less a great book and one I thoroughly enjoyed.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Education that is by no means dull, 29 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
This is the second book that I have read by Ahdaf Soueif (following "In the Eye of the Sun") and I am astounded by the fact that one woman could write two such different novels in a space of a couple of years. This is a story spanning almost two hundred years of Egyptian history through a double time line. The concept is great, and although at first it may be confusing, the family tree provided and Ahdaf Soueif's superb writing abilities soon overcome this. I must confess that I knew little of the British occupation of Egypt (even though I am part English) and so, this book has contributed vastly to my education on world matters as well as my own country's history. I find the way she tackles subjects that are still under the spotlight in Egypt (aswell as the rest of the Arab world), such as feminism, the Palestinian/Israeli issue and even terrorism, commendable. Having visited the country recently, her concerns over these issues, are well voiced and still demanding - to various extents - to be solved. The human element of love and family simply serves to make the historical factor more realistic and poignent. Once again, a book that must be read by all; British, Egyptian or otherwise.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It never got going, 8 Aug 2011
By 
Mrs. B. D. Hollidge "Drama Queen" (Beckenham, Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
I belong to a Book Club and "The Map of Love" was the latest book we were reading. I started out full of hope, but found it far too wordy - I just couldn't get on with the style of writing. It is not often I give up on a book - I usually persevere until the end. However, on this occasion, by the time I got to about Page 200, I was beginning to give up the will to live, so I have stopped reading this book and certainly have no intention of going back to it. I liked the idea of the plot, but felt the author was working on the premise of "Why use one word, when 100 will do!".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The modern history of Egypt in 500 pages, 23 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Map of Love (Hardcover)
This is my second book by Ms. Soueif. The first was "In The Eye of The Sun" which I found a bit hard to read. "The Map of Love" is better written and on the whole the story is more enjoyable. Even though I have to admit I found it a bit confusing at the beginning to be reading two stories going in parallel. However, when one got the hang of it the book became really nice to read.
This is a journey through time taking us back to the last years of the nineteenth century with all the turbulences that a country under the British rule was going through. Then the writer gradually and smoothly takes the reader on wings of a wonderfully written novel to a present-day Egypt - now an independent country with all sorts of problems that a modern cosmopolitan capital is suffering from.
On the whole this is an enjoyable book quite worthy of its Booker Prize nomination.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Mills and Boon romance, 27 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Map of Love (Hardcover)
An absurdly overrated book, judging by the plaudits on the jacket. Marquez? I don't think so. This is just a Mills and Boon romance dressed up with bolted-on and boringly presented politics and a bit of feeble magic realism. (It is the second book I have read since the New Year that has been praised by serious critics and has turned out to be unreadable slush - the other one was Vikram Seth's "An Equal Music" . What is going on?) What is worse about this book is that it purports to be postcolonial in its sensibilities but itself falls into all the old traps of Orientalism.
Two things leapt at out me but I admit I haven't checked them so I may be wrong. if I'm right they just confirm the fundamental laziness of the writing.
1 Anna has read Queen Victoria's diaries within a year or two of Victoria's death. I find it hard to believe they were published that soon.
2 Anna gets married in an Islamic ceremony wearing a low-cut dress.
Really you'd be better off watching Rudolf Valentino.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars But still the heart doth need a language, 1 Oct 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
Lonely and at a loose end after her return to Cairo, Amal assists the thirty-something American Isabel Parkman to translate some of the papers left by her great-grandmother Lady Anna Winterbourne who married an Egyptian nationalist a century before at a time of great political unrest when Egypt was still "under the yoke" of the British Empire. Fascinated by Anna, Amal begins to reconstruct her story, although it is often hard to know where fantasy ends and real scenes from the past begin. To a lesser extent, she applies the same approach to Isabel's meetings with Amal's suave elder brother with whom she is becoming infatuated.

The prospect of gaining a perspective on Egyptian history and politics seen through the eyes of an Egyptian woman, the author Ahdaf Soueif, is what drew me to this book, although I agree that the combination of somewhat soft-centred romance with serious historical and political comment may cause it to fall between two stools. The theme of examining love affairs between different cultures across generations against a complex political background is very ambitious, and perhaps the price paid is that the reader's attention is stretched over too many people, rather than engaged with a few fully developed central characters.

The author's style may be typically middle eastern and therefore all part of the experience to be gained, but I found my growing impatience with it a real barrier to reading the book. Despite my strong desire to like this novel, I felt smothered by its embroidered wordiness, the often banal dialogues and overdetailed descriptions as a substitute for dramatic action, the convoluted structure clanking back and forth in time. At one point Soueif goes off at a tangent on the nature of colour and the impossibility of defining the point at which, say, blue becomes green. Why not simply express this fascinating idea in a few pithy words on the lines of, "How strange that one cannot see exactly when blue turns into green"?

This is, as a reviewer described another of her books, an acquired taste. If you enjoy long, slow, rambling, gentle even in the midst of violence, reflective family sagas with frequent little digressions this may well appeal. Also, apart from its length, this could be a good choice for a book group as it provides scope for discussion of both plot and style, and is likely to divide opinion.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would only change the title, 15 July 2002
By 
A. Peel (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
If someone selected this work based on the title, they may well be disappointed, or alternatively, they may overlook a great work which delves into the history of Egypt, in particular Egypt's relationship with the English over the last hundred years, in the context of a beautiful, cross-cultural, cross-generational, love affair.
...the main character, Anna, is undoubtedly exceptional, however, I am certain that a tiny handful of English women of her time had the same open-minded attitude to the Egyptians. Never is it suggested that Anna had an easy ride as a result of the choice she made to marry an Egyptian. She remained an outsider to the English and the Egyptians, to a very large extent, hence her need to write these fascinating diaries and letters.The risk of this Anglo-Egyptian liaison is very high for Anna and her husband. She is rejected by most of her English counterparts in Egypt and the price her husband ultimately pays, possibly as a result of his liaison with her, is irreversible.
Despite the fact that this is fiction, I would still say that fortunately individuals such as Anna did what little they could to try to educate others in England on what being Egyptian actually meant.First-hand experience is perhaps the best way to achieve profound, cultural understanding, and only when fully immersed in a foreign world can people begin to comprehend the value of cultural integration. The English in England who had not seen or lived what the Egyptians were battling with at the turn of the century could not begin to understand what was important to Egypt, and yet they were controlling the country.
Soueif, born in Cairo and educated in Egypt and England, is in a perfect position to paint both the English and the Egyptian picture, and she does so from the most open-minded, factually-based perspective we could dream of. Her vision, her writing skill and her knowledge are what we need to move forward in society as a whole.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but not as authentic as In the Eye of the Sun, 10 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Map of Love (Hardcover)
The Map of Love is very well written, with lots of insight on a critical period in the History of Egypt. The "plot" is somewhat shaky with so many "one in a million" type occurances taking place. The supernatural bit is a very minor part of the book but detracts from it. The refernce to some of the earlier book characheters is very clever. The book deals very well with the confused nature of the modern egyptian society and its roots; part islamic, part Turkish, big part Arabic, a bit of French with a unique Egyptian outcome. In the Eye of the Sun is a masterpiece, totally realistic no super natural and no one in a zillion occurances. If you want a truelly Ahdaf Souief masterpiece read Eye of the Sun. If you don't have the mental and emotional energy for 800 pages then read Aisha and then Sandpiper. Ahdaf Souief is fantastic read. Use the very well prepared glossery at the end of the book everytime you come across an unfamilar word. It will help so much in your appreciation of the book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 3 Feb 2014
By 
Peter Jones (Springfield, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
This amazing book that deals with the intricacies involved when two people from different cultures , from nations that have different histories and directions who love another come to realize that their lives together is a challenge that is not based on love alone and that time hasn't and will never mitigate the inherent differences. This is a must read for those embracing multi-culturalism, cosmopolitanism and the global economy. One thing for sure is that this novel is a thought-provoking, socially challenging and compelling read. I highly recommend it along with Disciples of Fortune, Sugar Street: The Cairo Trilogy, The Usurper: and Other Stories, which I found to be thought-provoking and insightful.
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The Map of Love
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif (Paperback - 23 Mar 2000)
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