I read to escape and to learn. I like science fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers and adventure stories.
This fascinating story takes us between two very different worlds. London in the 1980’s where Lily is a nurse struggling to find her place and Africa where she was raised by a Moroccan religious leader after being orphaned by her hippie English parents.
Much of the action takes place in Ethiopia where Lily must struggle to integrate herself and come to terms with cultural practices strange and abhorrent to her. She finds acceptance and comfort in teaching her adoptive family and other neighborhood children from the Koran.
When Lily is separated from the man she loves and forced to flee Ethiopia because of political events, her inner life stagnates. She is emotionally frozen in the past, waiting and wondering what has become of him. She isolates herself by solely connecting with other refugees in the housing estate where she lives.
Parts of the story I had great difficulty reading, but over all, getting a glimpse of the culture and everyday lives of women in this part of the world was illuminating, and really beautiful. Lily’s faith sustains her through a difficult life and in the end I was left with a feeling of admiration for her devotion as well as the author’s subtle handling of painful personal and political events.
Reviewed August 2008