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2.7 out of 5 stars32
2.7 out of 5 stars
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on 7 May 2012
Unusually there was nothing in this book that I didn't like. I saw the author being interviewed on television and her story is very unusual. The book is very well written, the twists are deeply disturbing but interesting and it is so real. There but for the grace of the pie in the sky goes any one of us. Having lived in the middle east I 'got it' totally from the female perspective. The undercurrents in this book, the nuances, the things that aren't said .. are as important as the written words. I read it on my kindle but it is one I would like to have on my bookshelf. Mint tea isn't to everyone's taste, if you prefer Earl Grey still give it try.
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on 9 November 2012
I bought this book, as I thought reading it on a trip to Marrakech would add to the enjoyment of the book.
I found the book badly written by a shallow and judgmental narrator. The plot was seedy, no likable characters at all, and the Marrakech it was set in was nothing like the place any normal person would ever run into. My advice is - don't waste even a few hours of your life on this, irrespective of his you feel about the brave story if the author's illness and recovery.
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on 11 July 2012
As someone who has travelled round the Middle East in her early 20s, studying the language and culture in many countries, including Morocco, I was excited to read Tea at the Grand Tazi. The novel appealed to me as I shared something of the main character's attitude - slightly bohemian, academic, and more than a little reckless in an attempt to engage with the true culture and shake off my `orientalist shackles' as a Western foreigner.

Maia, the protagonist, only partially manages to do this; whilst trying to achieve her goal of painting the local women in their natural environment, she half reluctantly gets involved with seedy ex-pat crowd including her very shady host, the semi-washed up historian, and two of his just as shady entourage. Her sinister journey is a perverse and subversive twist on the `Eat, Love, Pray' genre, and one which will appeal to readers who prefer something a little out of the ordinary.

This novel gives us the portrayal of a hot, dirty, exotic North African scape from the perception of Maia, and it does so with skillful and rich, even luxurious, use of language with semantic qualities and rhythms that conjure up the city as seen by a young female traveler with a strong sense of the aesthetic and the sexual.

The characters Maia meets aren't exactly likeable - they are quite bizarre, a little dark and sometimes outright hysterical - I loved Constantine the ex-communicated priest, Mahmoud the owner of the Grand Tazi, and the creepy photographer.

My only criticism of the novel would be that the plot gets a little loose towards the middle. I would have preferred the novel to be slightly shorter and the plot a little tighter, but as a debut novel I can only praise Miss Singer for writing with such vitality and humour, that portrays, without the modern day ` fear of being an orientalist' malaise, one story of an anti-heroine traveler.

If you've also travelled round North Africa or the Middle East, have sense of adventure and a taste for the bizarre you will love this novel.
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on 11 March 2012
I really wanted to like this book - the writer's own story is so fascinating. However, I found it rather distasteful. I'm not a prude but the depravity of all the characters including the people in the street was just horrible. I couldn't find anyone to empathize with. I thought Maia was rather stupid and so naive and everyone was weird.The ending was trite - all's well that ends well and all the baddies either die or end up in prison. It's a shame because the writing was good and evocative but the plot just seemed to meander on aimlessly. I hope she writes more - I would definitely try another of her books to see if it is any better.
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on 16 August 2012
This is a very unusual but wonderful novel. The way Singer uses language is very original. She focuses in on very specific details and brings them to life in a very surreal yet stark way. There is no underlying moral to the novel which I always prefer and makes literature seem more genuine. I felt like I was being lulled away on a hypnotic journey into the unknown. My mind felt coloured with fleeting images. It was kind of like listening to Debussy or gazing at a Monet picture - a collection of indistinct details which come together to form a whole. The pace is also very dream like, odd things often just happen without explanation and then everything returns to normal. Expect scences of exotic sex and drug binges in the foothills of the Atlas interwoven with momentary dialogues on the nature of art.

Maia, the lead character, is an aspiring artist who flees to Morocco to work for a mysterious academic, the Historian, who turns out to be a spider spinning webs of corruption in the Moroccon underworld. Maia gets herself stuck and this book is about her squirming.

Just to finish. At the beginning, especially after reading the first sentence, I was slightly worried about this being an overbearingly feminist novel. However this was not the case - both the faults of man and women were exposed. This is not a definable species of novel but it is beautiful in its own unique way. Hope you can enjoy it as much I did!
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on 12 March 2012
The way the author writes, brings you into the story of the characters, wanting to find out their dark history and travel through the back streets of Marrakesh. The book is provocative but in a way that brings the reader into the story. I liked the fact that there was not too many descriptive details featured about the characters and the places. It allowed the become to become your own and to enter on a journey with the characters and through the city. The portrayal of Morocco is a harsh one that people may find hard to face up to, but which I thought in parts was quite truthful. In reality the expatriate story is one that can be reflected amongst others around the world making the book that much more relateable. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would recommend it to others.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The story is about Maia, an artist dumped by her boyfriend, and bored with her materialistic cosmopolitan lifestyle, who travels to Morocco to get away from everything - where she works and paints.

I am not aware of the author's back-story - but this is a bit of a feminist polemic - with men as predators, and women as victims - perhaps that's the way it is from teh author's point of view?

Quite well written from a stylistic point of view - but I couldn't really get in to the story.
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is one of those books that made me feel like I must be missing out on something. I am a perfectly erudite, well-read, intelligent person but this just felt like someone was trying to be too clever for their own good. The author certainly succeeds at evoking a dreamlike state, and her style evokes writers of the past, but it left me cold. I have spent a lot of time in Morocco but I didn't recognise the setting she presented, the events seemed entirely random and disconnected, the characters were impossible to connect with, and the whole thing seemed rather self-conscious. However the author's biography sounds impressive and the book seems to have some critical acclaim already Which leaves me wondering whether I'm just not getting it. It's always possible, but frankly I feel a good story well written should stand up by itself.
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VINE VOICEon 12 April 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'd read about this book in magazines, and was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of the very few books that I just can't get past the first few chapters, it just didn't hold anything for me. So disappointed, I had high hopes. That's not to say that others will not love this book though, this is just my personal opinion.
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on 3 December 2012
Still not finished it, It is descriptive and draws you in, but somehow I get bored and switch off. I will finish it however, it has a certain pull for me
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