Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

I was asked by Waterstones to review Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela.  As is the case with all my reviews, I was not paid for it but I did receive a free copy of the book.

Description of the book from Waterstones website:
Set in 1950s Sudan, LYRICS ALLEY is the story of the powerful and sprawling Abuzied dynasty. With Mahmood Bey at its helm, the family can do no wrong. But when Mahmood's son, Nur - the brilliant, charming heir to his business empire - suffers a near-fatal accident, his hopes of university and a glittering future are dashed. Subsequently, his betrothal to his cousin and sweetheart, Soraya is broken off, another tragedy that he is almost unable to bear. As British rule is coming to an end, and the country is torn between modernising influences and the call of traditions past, the family is divided. Mahmood's second wife, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and leave behind her the dust of 'backward-looking' Sudan. His first wife, Waheeba, lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors and resents Nabilah's influence on Mahmood. Meanwhile, Nur must find a way to live again in the world and find peace. Moving from the villages of Sudan to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated post-colonial Britain, this is a sweeping tale of loss, faith and reconciliation.

This is my review which will be on the Waterstones website as soon as it's approved

This book is set in a place and time I know very little about.  The author has a wonderful way of weaving in items about the culture, history and people as a part of the plot which makes it feel very realistic - and very real.  I very much enjoyed reading it and whilst I'm not going out immediately to buy other books by Leila Aboulela if I spot them in the shops I'll definitely take a look.

Although one or two of the things that take place in the book are very difficult to read about (female circumcision) they are very sensitively handled and personally I found it took me by surprise and made me think rather than it being upsetting.

Nur's accident forms a big part of the latter half of the book.  As someone who is disabled I was really pleased with how it was handled.  It struck me that it was very true to life both in how he and his family react and also in how it happened.  The ending and how it related to Nur was absolutely brilliant and really positive.

Another thing I particularly liked about Lyrics Alley is how the characters had realistic flaws and abilities.  And how in some places no matter how much they wanted to they couldn't overcome them.  I felt like the characters grew and matured over the time span of the novel which influenced how I thought about them as I read.

Very highly recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Emma,

Your review of my novel Lyrics Alley meant the world to me. I'm thrilled that you felt it was true to life.
I wish you all the best with your writing. I love the pencil drawing on your blog.

best regards,


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