20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I would only change the title,
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.