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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 Sept. 2003 by Mary Whipple

versus
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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex interweaving of love stories and history, 8 Jun. 2009
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
This is a complicated and moving book. It has four strands cleverly woven together: two love stories and two periods in Egyptian history that intertwine across time. I had to pay careful attention to keep track of which era I was reading about. There is added complexity owing to some of the story being told by a narrator, some by letters, some by descriptive text. However, the reader is helped in keeping track by the use of different typefaces for the various voices and texts. Egyptian history at the beginning and end of the 20th century was made even more interesting by the superimposed personal stories. I found the book educational about the Middle Eastern history and the Arabic language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A long love story with political overtones, 6 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
What can I add to all the other reviews? I thought it went on a bit too much for my liking, although it's not a difficult read. I would have got more out of it if there had been an appendix summarising the important points alluded to about Egypt's history.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Map of Love book review, 2 Jan. 2010
By 
Colette McKenna (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
`The map of love' written in 1999 by Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian novelist as well as a political and cultural commentator. The novel short listed for `The ManBooker prize' in 1999 is the second of Soueif's novels published.

A complex tale from two different time periods; one set in 1897; following Lady Anna Winterbourne and taking the reader through a series of letters and journals she wrote through her trip in Egypt. The second, set in 1997 following Lady Anna Winterbourne's great granddaughter Isobel, whom discovers the trunk containing the journals and letters. The contents of the trunk reveals a dark family secret, which has an impact on her life that even she could not have anticipated.

The story with a seemingly exciting plot is undermined by the structure of the book itself. Switching between the two time periods is executed in such a way that is complicated for the reader to fully relate to either of the narratives. The vast array of characters makes it hard for the reader to be able to make a connection and relate to any one in particular, which does not help when trying to create an attachment to the book.

In addition to this, the story is made harder to grasp with the use of Arabic words within the text. Although there is an explanatory glossary at the back this detracts from the flow of the story and is frustrating for the reader. To fully enjoy the book, background knowledge of Egyptian culture and politics would be useful, as a large portion of the novel is based around these themes.

In conclusion, despite the initial clever plot `The map of love' is flawed by its complicated structure and the lack of relationship it creates with the reader and the characters within.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Richly detailed novel of Egypt, 18 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Map of Love (Kindle Edition)
Firstly, I think the cover and title of The Map Of Love does its content a disservice. From the moody image and brief synopsis, I was expecting a giddy, breathless period love story, a light women's fiction romance. Instead, I was treated to a wide-ranging story that takes in both historical (post-Victorian) and modern-day Egypt, the varying political stances and ideologies of her peoples, and the sheer beauty and majesty of the landscape, while still finding time to delicately portray the deep loves felt by two women separated from each other by one hundred years.

At over five hundred pages, The Map Of Love is a novel to take time over. Soueif's obvious passion for her country is contagious and inspiring and I loved her observed details of people, places, customs and emotions. The two central characters of Lady Anna Winterbourne in the early 1900s and her descendant, Amal, in the late 1990s both effectively manage to speak directly to the reader because we discover Anna's story through her journals as Amal reads them. I liked Amal as she is a bit of a worrier and I could easily identify with her immersion in Anna's diaries and journals. I was experiencing the same immersion into The Map Of Love!

Anna is a daring, headstrong woman by the standards of her time. She is determined to live the life she desires after having ceded the time so far to her previous husband. We learn about the culture and society of Egypt through Anna's experience and also through Amal's reactions to Anna. I enjoyed this dual viewpoint and had no trouble with the switching from one to the other. I did come unstuck with the multitude of men's names listed in passages describing the political meetings attended by Sharif Basha. I think several must have been real people and my Who's Who knowledge of 1900s Egypt is non-existent. It would be interesting to read a nonfiction history of the same period soon and put the two books together in my mind.

The Map Of Love did have a similar effect on my emotions as another recent read, Inheritance Of Loss. Both are concerned with the aftermath of British rule on their countries and I do feel ashamed of the way British people overran such a vast part of the world and how badly the existing peoples were treated. So much of real value was destroyed in the name of Empire and, basically, simply for money.

Another common theme is the potential loneliness of exile and the challenges of living within another culture. Anna is cushioned by love and by wealth in her Egyptian life, but there is still a continuous yearning for at least a small connection to home in her letters. Amal also becomes influenced by this, I think, in her return to her ancestral lands. Having made ourselves currently rootless, albeit in a tiny way by comparison, I have found myself choosing novels that reflect and examine the experience of travelling and being away from home. I would recommend The Map Of Love as both a rich novel of the lure of a different way of life, and of its downsides.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif, 1 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
The Map of Love
by
Ahdaf Soueif

Bloomsbury London 1999

Summary

A story of romance and politics spanning the 20th century set in Egypt.

Review

In weaving a love story about an English establishment lady and an Egyptian patriot against the background of the declining control of the Ottoman empire and the growing control of the British empire, Soueif - clearly an Egyptian with a strong sense of national dignity - sets herself a challenging task. Because her audience is Anglo American she has to convey the complexities of Arab sensitivities and social relationships in an accessible manner. Her task is immense since Arab names and titles and customs are inherently alien to contemporary English speakers whose reading is conditioned by the relatively straightforward language of much of today's fiction where concepts are developed without necessarily a great amount of subtlety allowing the reader to coast along to an easy finale.

Nevertheless the writing is sensitive and the story delicately constructed. The ambiguities of the British colonial mind are set against the burning indignation of the idealists of Egyptian society which in addition to British occupation has to endure the erosion of the rights of fellow Arabs in neighbouring Palestine whose land is being bought from under their feet by well funded Zionists.

Conclusion

The book has many qualities though burdened by labyrinthine nomenclature. It is an excellent primer in modern Arab history seeking to clarify for the outsider the nuances of Arab feelings and political thought. It makes a clear case against the continued injustices and indignities heaped upon peoples whose civilisation was the foundation of all others.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Egyptian Passion, 28 Mar. 2012
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
In her second novel, Soueif follows the increasingly popular technique of writing in 'two times', with sections in the past (in her case 19th-century Egypt) and the present. In the 19th-century story, Lady Anna Winterbourne, a young widow (with something about her of the sort of heroine Lesley Blanch would have admired) travels to Egypt. While journeying in the desert, she meets the wealthy and handsome Egyptian patriot Sharif. In a scenario worthy of a big-budget 1960s film, they fall in love, and Anna moves into Sharif's family's palace. She has a daughter, and the family are blissfully happy. But the political situation in Egypt grows ever more uncertain, and Sharif is a man with enemies...

The modern sections of the book are narrated largely from the point of view of Amal, an Egyptian divorcee and a descendant of Sharif. Amal befriends Isabel Parkman, a young American divorcee, helps her to get to know Egypt, and watches with a mixture of alarm and pleasure as Isabel falls head over heels in love with Amal's brother Omar, a pianist, conductor and political activist (a sort of Egyptian Daniel Barenboim). Isabel is a direct descendant of Lady Anna, making her a distant cousin of Amal. As Isabel becomes increasingly drawn to Omar, it seems that history may repeat...

There was a great deal I enjoyed about this book: the descriptions of Egypt, both modern and 19th century, the slight sense of mystery in the story, all the fascinating historical background. I felt this was a novel crammed with interesting ideas. However, I didn't feel any of the characters quite came to life. Soueif's decision to make the relationship of Anna and Sharif self-consciously owe something to Mills and Boon novels I felt was a mistake; it led to some stilted prose and didn't make their love - at least until the later stages of the novel - quite convincing. And by having Amal as the narrator rather than Isabel for most of the modern sections, Soueif marginalized the Isabel/Omar romance; I never felt we had enough material about it. (Also, if Omar was a musician as talented as we are meant to believe, I doubt he'd have time to give so much energy to politics - at least, not without largely ending his musical career, which I doubt he'd have wanted to do.) Soueif spent so much time in the modern sections analyzing Amal's feelings or describing modern Egypt that I felt she'd slightly forgotten about the modern love story. Isabel in particular became rather more a symbol than a person for long stretches. This is not to say that characterization goes out the window in this book - there's still a lot to enjoy, about people as well as places and history. But compared to the wonderful, complex characters in 'In the Eye of the Sun' most of the characters in 'The Map of Love' seem quite thinly drawn. And the end of the modern section felt a bit rushed to me - and does history really repeat itself that closely?

If I could I'd give this novel 5 stars for interesting historical material and beautiful descriptive language, and 3 and a half stars for making us care about the characters. But I'd still recommend it as a fine novel by a top author. Why has Soueif stopped writing fiction? I wish she'd start again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 15 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Map of Love (Kindle Edition)
I wished to hear 'the other version' of history - that written by those who were on the receiving end of colonialism. Therefore I put together a list of Arab and African authors writing in English or in translation from their own languages.
I started with Ahdaf Soueif and enjoyed every moment of her book, as well as getting an understanding of the way the past shapes the present. Ignorance leads to prejudice and hostility. Getting to know 'the other' promotes empathy and tolerance and opens the mind
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too much political waffle around a poor storyline., 30 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Map of Love (Paperback)
Having just come back from a holiday in Cairo, I was eager to read The Map of Love but sadly it was not as enjoyable as Egypt itself.
The book is slow-paced and, at times, very difficult to follow as it clumsily switches between different timelines. The author's depicition of modern Cairo is evocative and commendable but Lady Anna Winterbourne and her forbidden lover, Sharif Pasha, are hackneyed at best.
On far too many occassions, the (thin) plot is abandoned whilst the reader is subjected to lengthy and self-indulgent passages detailing the struggles of small bunch of nationalists in British-ruled Egypt. Unfortunately, even the family tree provided at the start of book only serves to detract from the plot as it allows the reader an easy guess at what will be the fate of Sharif.........
Certainly do not buy this book on the strength of the reviews as you will be disappointed. One critic describes it as 'reminiscent of Marquez and Allende' and so I lent the book to my mother who is an avid fan of those authors. She was also throuroughly confused and bored by the politics and the poor storyline.
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The Map of Love
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif (Paperback - 23 Mar. 2000)
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