Read Eight Months on Ghazzah Street by Hilary Mantel Online


Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, a maker of maps, but when her husband's work takes her to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map the Kingdom's areas of internal darkness. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive, watchful. The streets are not a woman's territory; confined in hFrances Shore is a cartographer by trade, a maker of maps, but when her husband's work takes her to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map the Kingdom's areas of internal darkness. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive, watchful. The streets are not a woman's territory; confined in her flat, she finds her sense of self begin to dissolve. She hears whispers, sounds of distress from the 'empty' flat above her head. She has only rumours, no facts to hang on to, and no one with whom to share her creeping unease. As her days empty of certainty and purpose, her life becomes a blank -- waiting to be filled by violence and disaster....

Title : Eight Months on Ghazzah Street
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007172917
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Eight Months on Ghazzah Street Reviews

  • Kevin Ansbro
    2019-06-22 19:08

    This was my first Hilary Mantel novel, and most probably my last.I'd read somewhere, in a satirical critique of Mantel's work, that she is overly fond of a semi-colon; scatters them about like confetti I was led to believe. This much is true; there is a plenitude of the little blighters; a tide of winky faces bereft of their smiles.But Mantel can write. And she writes really well. How did I not know this?Sad to say though that her writing prowess doesn't save the story from being as dull as ditchwater.Described on its cover as "A Middle Eastern Turn of the Shrew with an insidious power to grip", I was drawn to the book in a way that I wouldn't with her dictionary-sized hist-fic novels.Her writing is somewhat quaint; it's as if she belongs in another era. But I don't want quaint, I want pizzazz, I want artistic flair, I want resplendence with a cherry on top! Perhaps it's asking too much to yearn for lip-licking, hip-thrusting, transcendent prose that forces you to believe that there is a writing god.The story is slow-paced, the main character is annoyingly sanctimonious - oh, and there's also no plot to speak of. Apart from that, it's fine!I just wanted it to end, so I could move on to my next read.

  • Darrell Delamaide
    2019-06-13 17:11

    It took me some time to read this horrifying novel by Hilary Mantel, not because it isn't well-written or compelling, but because often it's simply so painful to read. There is a mystery, a shadowy bit of skulduggery that gathers force toward the end, but the impact of the book is not in this artifice but in the portrayal of life in Saudi Arabia based on the author's own experience of living there.We all know this backward desert of Wahabism is terrible, but just how offensive it is to Western sensibilities, how hypocritical the royal family is to commit every sin in the Koran while inflicting this puritanical code on its citizens, and how corrupt this combination of hypocrisy and wealth can be is -- painfully -- drawn with Mantel's gifts of description and characterization.I visited Riyadh briefly on a reporting trip at about the same period Mantel describes -- when the bloom of the oil gold rush was fading and the Kingdom was forced into budget cuts that led to many grand building projects being abandoned. The place gave me the willies, but I was there and gone in a few days. More telling is the experience of a reporter colleague of mine who had spent much more time there and knew it well. He had the bad luck to be in the country when a story of his appeared in the West that was more than a little critical of the regime. Some Ministry called him at his hotel and said he should come around to discuss the article with them. Because he knew the country so well, he said, sure, I'm staying for several days so why don't I come by day after tomorrow. He hung up the phone and called a cab to the airport to take the first flight out of the country. I don't think he ever returned.Mantel's depiction of the mortal threat of living in a country that has no rule of law is devastatingly realistic. Her biting and brutal humor seems at time like satire -- except there's no exaggeration involved. The Pakistani neighbor of the protagonist, Frances Shore, tries to reassure her by explaining that they don't really stone adulteresses any more -- they throw a few token stones then shoot her. "I was so relieved," Frances wrote mordantly in her diary. The British expats discuss some of the more famous customs of the country, like cutting off the hands of thieves, by noting in passing that they use anesthetic and have doctors standing by to bind up the wound.The expats tell each other, as they are told, that they must respect the cultural differences of the host country. You might as well say you should respect the customs of cannibals or acknowledge that slavery is legitimate if it's part of the local culture, because the Wahabi perversion of Islam is as benighted and savage. The portrayal of this culture in Mantel's novel is enough to turn the biggest fan of multiculturalism into a raving advocate for the mission civilatrice of the West.The novel works at many levels, however, and is also a crushing indictment of Western materialism and greed. Frances -- who, irrelevantly for the novel, is described as a cartographer -- and her architect husband go to Saudi Arabia, with all its known hardships, because the money is so good. They are willing to take on the deprivation (no alcohol is the least of it) to make a pile that will enable them to buy a flat in central London. Their colleagues are other expats similarly motivated by greed, who are willing to put up with a little hell to get ahead. So imagine their dismay when the checks don't arrive and they're still stuck in hell.Frances and her husband, Andrew, are not able to get into one of the foreigners' compounds when he goes to work on a new ministry building in Jeddah and instead are installed in a company flat in an apartment block along one of the main roads. The reader sees immediately that this will not be a good situation for Frances when her husband, who had arrived earlier, locks her into the apartment her first day there, for her own protection. Her sense of isolation and alienation become palpable with the description of her endless days of nothingness, with the choice of staying in a blank apartment breathing the stale air-conditioned atmosphere or venturing outside into the blazing, fly-bitten heat and hazarding the leers and catcalls of Saudi men who consider unveiled Western women to be whores.Out of desperation, Frances becomes friends of sorts with the Pakistani woman across the hall and the Arab woman living upstairs, each of whom explains her dismaying rationalization for the role of women in this puritanical society. The flat directly above Frances and Andrew is supposedly empty, but Frances hears sounds of life there. She is then told that in fact the flat is used by a junior member of the royal family for illicit trysts, but she comes to suspect that is simply a tale put out to satisfy a foreigner's curiosity.The development of this mystery and its denouement are not the most effective pieces of the novel. The frustration and futility of trying to find out exactly how the tragedy unfolds is more poignant than the actual events. In fact, this gothic part of the story is almost a subplot, or a symbol for the much more mundane corruption that is portrayed throughout the novel.Mantel spent four years in Saudi Arabia with her real-life geologist husband, and she says in a Q&A in the back of this edition that the day she left Jeddah was the happiest moment in her life. She brings her considerable literary gifts to bear in a fictional account of her stay that makes you understand why. Frances is still in the country when the novel ends, now settled in a sparsely inhabited compound surrounded by freeways, but the reader is oh so happy to get an exit visa and leave this oppressive world.Mantel is now famous as the author of Wolf Hall. This earlier novel makes it clear that she is anything but an overnight success. The terrific empathy and the skillful craftsmanship that distinguish the winner of the Man Booker Prize are already abundantly evident in this book.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-06-13 14:02

    BABT Nearly 30 years on from its original publication, Hilary Mantel's third novel is still as disturbing, incisive and illuminating as ever. Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, but when her husband's work takes them to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map either the ever changing landscape or the Kingdom's heavily veiled ways of working. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive and watchful. She soon discovers that the streets are not a woman's territory.Reader: Anna Maxwell MartinThis does ring a bell but can't remember a damn thing, and I have no paper record. If, like myself, you were wondering, The Handmaid's Tale was first published in 1985 and is dystopian in nature. Here we go:1/10: Confined in her flat, she finds her sense of self beginning to dissolve. She hears footsteps, sounds of distress from the supposedly empty flat above. She has only constantly changing rumours to hang on to, and no one with whom to share her creeping unease.2/10: Frances is unable to map either the ever changing landscape or the Kingdom's heavily veiled ways of working. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive and watchful. 3/10: Confined in her flat, she finds her sense of self beginning to dissolve. She hears footsteps, sounds of distress from the supposedly empty flat above. She has only constantly changing rumours to hang on to, and no one with whom to share her creeping unease.4/10: is the sobbing from the maid?5/10: 6/10: Frances gives her first dinner party.7/10: Yasmin confides in Frances.8/10: Frances' suspicions about the empty flat grow.9/10: there is a break-in and a new arrival.10/10: Frances tries to discover the truth.

  • Simon
    2019-06-15 17:07

    This is a really excellent book, predominantly about culture, and cultures. It concerns a British couple in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Andrew, a civil engineer, is there to make a lot of money by working on the construction of a new Ministry Building. Frances, his wife, is a cartographer who goes with him but is not, as a woman, allowed to work there. The author herself lived in Jeddah for four years under not dissimilar circumstances and so the extremely unappealing depiction of the city, its inhabitants, both locals and expats, and Saudi society is, fair or not, based on intimate acquaintance. This extremely negative picture forces one to confront the notion of a culture. After all, if there are cultures, there’s no reason why all must be equally good. We are reminded again and again of the restrictions on women, the religious vigilantism, the corruption, and so on. Yet the distrust between the various cultures involved forces one to recognize how hard it is for us to understand one another. And certainly some of the Saudi problems, such as the corruption, are abetted by the culture of the Western companies there to make fast and easy money. So you read this book, gripped with a mounting hatred of Saudi culture, which in turn is depicted as hating and contemning the West on which it must nonetheless rely for so much, seeing the efforts by some of the characters to reject racism and prejudice and yet confront the severe cultural differences, and the result is that you feel as disoriented as does the cartographer Frances in a city that is said to metamorphose by the day, rendering the very idea of a map useless.The book starts with a memo from one of the heads of the Western company Andrew works for, talking about the recent tragedy involving their employees. Cut to eight or nine months earlier (in a book entitled Eight Months on Gazzah Street, the street where Andrew and Frances live) and you’re immediately plunged into a state of dread which Mantel develops masterfully. A large part of the pleasure of reading the book is the virtuosity with which she controls the crescendo. Andrew and Frances live on Gazzah Street, not in a Western compound, in an apartment building with four flats. They occupy one, the Pakistani expats Raji and Yasmin another, the Saudi couple Samira and Abdul Nasr a third. And then there is the empty fourth flat. The latter two couples have live in help, from Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the latter of whom speaks only some obscure Indonesian dialect. So the issues of multi-culturalism occur in many forms. Yasmin, though Pakistani, is very defensive of the Saudis, while her husband is a sleazy player of some kind. Everyone has secrets and secrets within secrets. Something is going on, or some things, and Frances the cartographer, the liberal, the professional yet uninvolved, wants to find out what.No spoilers about what is going on and about what happens. But it’s a compelling and disturbing read. I withhold one star only because there was some odd stuff in the writing that I couldn’t really see the point of. Though overwhelmingly written the past tense, little bits of present tense – sometimes a single sentence in the middle of a paragraph - would occur for no apparent reason. I wondered if this was an attempt to mimic, in the narration, the shifting and disorienting cityscape, and so the dislocation felt by Frances, but if it was, it didn’t work in my opinion. (It may have been poor editing; perhaps at some point the book was going to be written in the present and when it was reworked, some stuff got by. Also Frances keeps a diary for the some of the time. We get a few excerpts but given that the narration followed Frances very closely most of the time, the diary didn’t seem to add any new perspective. (I looked for evidence of self-deception in the diary but found none.) There is also, at the end, a short chapter of first-person narration (I won’t say by who) which, while not jarring, seemed somewhat gratuitous.

  • Erica Verrillo
    2019-06-19 15:15

    I am a big Mantel fan, having enjoyed her other books tremendously. The writing in Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, as always, was good. But this novel was deeply flawed for several other reasons.First, the plot was very thin. Admittedly, Mantel often has sketchy, meandering plots, but this one was just didn't carry water. I'll sum it up for you: British woman moves to Saudi Arabia to join her husband and doesn't like it there. All the other window dressing - an upstairs apartment that is supposedly used for a love tryst, the various punishments meted out to adulterers, the main character's own feelings of isolation - really didn't amount to much, mostly because Mantel did so little to make these plot points interesting. The ending, if you can make it that far, was like pulling an invisible rabbit out of a hat. (If anybody out there can tell me what actually happened in the end, I'd appreciate an explanation.)Second, the main character, Frances, was surprisingly shallow. She is supposed to be a professional woman who spent many years in Africa, so you would expect more interesting social and cultural commentary than was offered up in her "diary." Instead, she simply wallows in self-pity and largely self-imposed isolation from her first day in Saudi Arabia. Literally, the first day. This not only prevents character development, it is simply not logical. Why would she feel isolated after only a few hours?Third, this novel seemed written to make a point - always a bad idea for a novelist, especially when the point is so meaningless. Mantel's point is directly stated on page 234 when Frances tells the very tall Fairfax, "This is no place for men who like women." Yet, almost immediately following this exchange, Fairfax shows Frances a photo of his wife, who he describes as a "giantess," a woman who married him only because she could walk down the aisle in high heels rather than "shuffling up the aisle in gym shoes and bending her knees." Apparently a culture in which women can't stand up straight for fear of being taller than a man is less objectionable than one in which women cover their faces. Further discussion reveals that one of their female British expat friends who is being divorced by her British husband (for having an affair) is now living in poverty with her children. Punishing adultery by reducing one's own children to poverty didn't even raise an eyebrow. The double standard that permeates this book, and which Mantel seems unwilling to discuss, spoils any observation she might make about Saudi Arabian attitudes towards women.I have lived in countries in which strict sex segregation is practiced, and, frankly, I did not find it to be a problem. Adopting a new style of dress was hardly something to complain about, and the fact that men could not speak to me was something of a relief. I had a very good time talking with the women, and learned a great deal from them (without having to deal with flirting, football scores, or dirty jokes). After all, the whole point of living abroad is to experience a new way of seeing the world. I will never in a million years understand why so many American and other Western travelers insist that every country they go to - temporarily mind you - needs to adjust to THEM. The only thing that ever results from this childish, arrogant attitude is animosity and, sometimes, real harm. I was sorry to see that Mantel was unwilling to critique this attitude in any meaningful way. Instead her central character self-righteously clung to her right to wear short skirts, drink booze, and make her hosts uncomfortable. The characters who didn't follow her example were portrayed as being somewhat stupid. I don't know why Mantel devised a central character who was so unsympathetic, and I hesitate to think that Mantel herself saw anything admirable in Frances Shore. As for her description of Saudi Arabia, I came away with very little, other than the impression that it was dusty, bureaucratic, and a nightmare to drive in.

  • Davide
    2019-06-03 16:58

    Donne al volante, l'Arabia dice sì(titolo della «Stampa», 27 settembre 2017)Se davvero questa decisione entrerà in vigore nel giugno del prossimo anno, una parte di questo libro diventerà meno comprensibile. L'impossibilità di guidare e quindi di spostarsi autonomamente, in un luogo dove anche passeggiare non è proprio agevole, è infatti uno degli elementi fondamentali che costruiscono l'opprimente senso di inquietudine, disagio e disorientamento che comunica questo libro, non appassionante come altri dell'autrice, ma molto efficace nel rendere questa percezione di un mondo che segrega ossessivamente le donne. Il percorso di scrittura di Hilary Mantel non è rettilineo. Poco più che ventenne, per anni, si dedica a un grande romanzo che ha come personaggi alcuni protagonisti di primo piano della Rivoluzione francese. Continua a scriverlo anche durante la permanenza in Botswana con il marito, alla fine degli anni Settanta ma uscirà soltanto vent'anni circa dopo l'inizio della stesura. Con il marito geologo si trasferiscono poi per qualche anno in Arabia saudita, dove scrive il suo primo romanzo pubblicato: Every Day is Mother's Day, che esce nel 1985; ma intanto tiene anche dei diari che certamente saranno alla base di questo romanzo (Eight Months on Ghazzah Street), che uscirà nel 1988, dopo la continuazione del primo: Vacant Posession (1986).Lo stretto legame tra l'autrice e la protagonista, assente nei due libri precedenti, è qui evidente nelle vicende di base: una coppia di trentenni inglesi, Frances («slight, neat» nella descrizione del marito) e Andrew si trasferiscono a Jeddah, in Arabia Saudita, negli anni Ottanta; e prima erano stati insieme in Africa: Zambia e Botswana. Andrew lavora nel settore delle costruzioni, che ha un folle sviluppo in Arabia Saudita, e promette quindi guadagni molto più alti dei precedenti. Frances, che è una donna indipendente e che ha sempre lavorato (è cartografa, ma non abbiamo molti particolari sul suo lavoro, anche nei ricordi dei luoghi di vita precedenti), deve invece rimanere a casa.Questi elementi di partenza e la narrazione che produce quei sentimenti che dicevo prima sono presentati soprattutto in un racconto in terza persona, principalmente dal punto di vista di Frances (ma almeno una volta anche da quello di Andrew); però ci sono inserzioni del diario di Frances: «in Africa there was no need to keep a diary to convince yourself you had an interesting life. Things were always happening». Dopo l’iniziale alienante solitudine, inizia qualche forma di contatto con altre donne, vicine di casa, ma rimane sempre una decisiva distanza di cultura e un ingestibile senso di incomprensione (ad un certo punto Frances sbotta con Andrew: «No wonder they have such a bloody awful religion», visto che vivono in un luogo dove non cresce niente). I rapporti sono tesi però anche con la comunità anglosassone degli espatriati, spesso razzisti, che vivono esclusivamente per il denaro, tra pettegolezzi e dicerie. «Andrew accuses me of lacking tact». La tensione generale quindi non smette di crescere e nasce un intrigo anche in questo libro che sembra al confine tra romanzo e memoir, privo del ricco intreccio romanzesco dei precedenti. Verso la fine diventa così una sorta di giallo impossibile, anche se è ben chiaro che:«Life is not like detective stories. There is a wider scope for interpretation. The answers to all the questions that beset you are not in facts, which are the greatest illusion of all, but in you own heart, in your own habits, in your limitations, in your fear.»

  • Patricia
    2019-06-09 19:12

    Who knew that the author of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies had lived in Saudi Arabia? I didn't, but once I started reading the book, I thought "Holy Smokes! She's in my head!"Hilary Mantel describes so aptly the expat experience in Saudi Arabia that just reading the book gives me a little bit of the heebie-jeebies. She describes her impressions upon first arrival - and brought back memories I had forgotten of the utter isolation, and the difficulty making connections. Any get-together must be planned. Any excursion alone on a street invites harassment. There will be store personnel who won't look at you when you ask a question and won't respond, because you are a woman. Grocery shopping becomes a consuming passion. Your husband comes home from a long day at work and has to take you where you need to go. As time goes on, you meet people and develop a life, but underneath is the arbitrary and Kafka-esque nature of expat life in Saudi Arabia, where rumor runs rife in the absence of real information. You find yourself breaking laws because it's what everybody does, and on some level you know you are also taking a terrible risk, because at any time, suddenly, that law may be enforced. Being kicked out of Saudi Arabia is one of the better outcomes; the worst is having to be in a jail or a hospital, where things happen, things that you can never prove, so officially, they never happened.Saudi Arabia is a bizarre place to live, and HIlary Mantel's book fully captures the insanity.

  • Jeanette
    2019-06-11 14:54

    It's written as a memoir of her 4 year stay in Saudi Arabia for her husband's work during her younger life. It holds a bunch of deep Hilary Mantel thoughts, but the surroundings are so glum and the lifestyle holding such barriers of restrictive movement and solitary boredom, that this quality leeches into the book itself.As a woman, this life would not be doable for me. I think I would have gotten a divorce and stayed home.It did have one excellent quote though that I will remember. "It's not that bad. A lot of countries have these rules. It's just that we've spent most of our lives subject to a different set. This isn't a free society. They haven't had any practice at being free.""Freedom isn't a thing that needs practice" she said. "If you have it, you know how to use it."

  • Sandy
    2019-06-21 19:56

    My husband, our two young sons and I lived in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia from 1983 to 1991, almost the same time-frame as Hillary Mantel lived in Jeddah on the western side. Mantel's ability to recreate the setting of the Kingdom in that time left me breathless. She did not just describe the physical aspects of the country, she was able to put me back in that time and place and make me remember the confusion, the low-grade fear, the suspicion, the boredom, the frustration, the intrigue ...all of it. This is a fabulous book, especially for those who have lived there. It is the book I wish I could have written.

  • Jeanette
    2019-06-16 14:18

    Zzzzzzzzzz...If you want to know how dreadfully stultifying life would have been for an expat wife in Jeddah in the 80s, read the first 60 or 70 pages of this book. You'll soon be transported to the Land of Nod. When you awaken, wipe your nap-drool from the book and go exchange it posthaste for one with an identifiable plot.

  • Jane Branson
    2019-05-31 18:53

    Tense and unnerving, punctured with moments that seem blackly comic until you remember that this is a depiction of a real place and time and not a dystopian parody, this novel reads like a cross between travel writing and psychological thriller. Frances Shore used to be a cartographer, but in her new life maps have as little value as she does. The city of Jeddah is steeped in darkness and changes too often to be caught on paper, while as a Western woman in this culture, she is both objectified and invisible. My favourite aspect of Hilary Mantel's writing is the way she renders the mundane into poetry through her lyrical turns of phrase - the description of the money-lenders' office, for example. A great read - dark, claustrophobic and immersive.

  • Alesa
    2019-06-25 11:56

    Although this book is listed as a novel, it is a very authentic depiction of life of an expatriate wife in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. I have never read anything that so accurately describes the insidious fear that is ever-present, or the dreaded boredom, depression and loss of self-respect that come from living in the Kingdom.In many ways, it's like Heart of Darkness, in that we go deeper and deeper into despair. Here's just one example of the fantastic writing: "He kept his eyes from the woman as if she wore an aura of barbed wire." Fantastic. Yet this book is not a fun read. It's chilling.

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-06-11 18:10

    Novel of suspense.The story is of two British ex-pats in Saudi Arabia. The husband works, the wife stays at home. For their own reasons they live in a flat rather than in the compound with the other ex-pats working for the company.The wife grows increasingly suspicious of her actual neighbours and unknown persons who might be living in her apartment block and what might be going on in the other flats. The build up of tension and the oscillation between the narrator thinking that dark deeds are taking place all around her to feeling that it's all in her mind is very finely done.

  • فراس عالم
    2019-06-10 13:17

    علي أن أعترف في البدء أن الذي استدرجني لشراء هذه الرواية هو فخ عنوانها فليس من المألوف و أنت تتجول ببصرك على رفوف مكتبة أن تجد رواية أجنبية تتحدث عن جدة، بل و تسبقها بالكوابيس، و أن تكون الرواية لكاتبة حاصلة على جائزة "بوكر مان" فهذا يجعل الأمر أكثر إغراء و يغري بدفع قيمة الكتاب و المغامرة بقراءته لاحقاً. فيما بعد اكتشفت أن العنوان كان فخاً متقناً بالفعل فالرواية الحقيقية لا تحمل ذات الإسم بل اسماً أكثر حيادية هو "ثمانية أشهر في شارع غزة" لكنني لسبب ما لم أشعر بالضيق لأن العنوان الذي على غلاف الترجمة لم يكن هو العنوان الأصلي بل شعرت أن المترجمة(د. فاطمة نصر) وفقت إلى حد كبير في اختيار العنوان البديل على الأقل لتخرج من اللبس الذي سيوحي به إسم غزة في العنوان الأصلي.تدور أحداث الرواية في مدينة جدة في بداية الثمانينات الميلادية و تحكي قصة عائلة بريطانية (زوج و زوجة) انتقلا للإقامة فيها لإتمام مشروع بناء عملاق لإحدى الوزارات، حيث يعمل الزوج مهندساً للإنشاءات و تظل الزوجة حبيسة المنزل بلا عمل.منذ بداية الرواية لا تتحرج هيلاري مانتل في نقل مشاعر الريبة و التوجس التي تشعر بها (فرانسيس) الزوجة و راوية الأحداث. فهي و على الرغم من اغترابها الدائم عن وطنها بريطانيا، و على الرغم من إقامتها في بلدان فقيرة في أفريقيا لعدة سنوات إلا أنها لا تشعر بالارتياح للذهاب للسعودية حيث ينبغي عليها تغطية رأسها طوال الوقت و الامتناع عن احتساء الخمر و الأسوأ من ذلك هو بقاؤها بلا عمل في المنزل حيث أن تخصصها كرسامة خرائط غير مرغوب به هناك. تسجل الرواية بدقة و عين خبيرة تفاصيل المكان و خليفيته الجغرافية و التاريخية، و تسهب في وصف الأماكن و الشوارع و الأسواق و أحوال الطقس في جدة في تلك الفترة، كما أن النقاشات التي يديرها البريطانيون و الأجانب عموماً فيما بينهم تتناول الأحداث الساخنة في تلك الفترة بلا تحفظ فتجدهم يتحدثون عن علاقة السعودية بالولايات المتحدة في تلك الفترة و عن أعمال الشغب التي حدثت في عام ١٩٧٩ في الحرم المكي و عن الشغب الذي رافق افتتاح التلفزون و أن الملك اضطر لقتل ابن شقيقه قائد المتمردين على افتتاح التلفزون. و على الرغم من كل تلك الدقة و الوصف الحميم إلا أن المؤلفة حرصت أن تنقل لنا الإنطباع الخاص ب(فرانسيس) بطلة الرواية و الزوجة العاطلة عن العمل بأن هناك حاجزاً زجاجياً سميكاً يفصلها عن الحياة الحقيقية في جدة، و أن كل ما تراه و تسمعه هو غرائبي و غير منطقي و مزيف بشكل ما. كانت أزمة فرانسيس الحقيقية في جدة أنها لم تستطع أن تلمس شيئاً حقيقياً في حياتها الجديدة. فكل ما تعرفه هو عن طريق نصائح الغربيين الآخرين يبدو لها متناقضاً و متحيزاً إلى حد كبير، لكن محاولاتها البحث عن واقع حقيقي كانت تبوء بفشل متكرر أيضاً. فالصحيفة الوحيدة المتاحة لها هي (السعودي جازيت) و هي أقرب ما تكون إلى صحيفة البرافدا السوفيتية التي لا تنشر إلا الأخبار الزاهية أو البورباجندا الفجة عن البلد و تصور كل ما يجري من أحداث بأنه مؤامرة على الإسلام و المسلمين.ترفض فرانسيس السكن في مجمع مغلق خاص بالأجانب نفوراً من بعض زملاء زوجها و تفضل السكن في عمارة مكونة من أربع شقق يجاورها فيها ياسمين الباكاستانية المسلمة و زوجها الذي يعمل في مكتب الأمير و في الدور العلوي تسكن سميرة السعودية و زوجها عبدالناصر الذي لا يتحدث مع أحد و يعمل في وزارة ما لا تعرفها و هناك تلك الشقة المغلقة التي تدور حولها الإشاعات بأن أحد أقارب الوزير يستخدمها في لقاءات حميمة مع عشيقة سرية له تحاول ياسمين إقناع فرانسيس باعتناق الإسلام و تهديها ترجمة لمعاني القرآن الكريم و تحاول أن تبرر لها بعض الممارسات التي تحدث باسم الدين و بأن الإعلام هو من يتجنى على الإسلام و تقارن بمبالغة تراها فرانسيس مضحكة بين الفساد الحاصل في الغرب و الاستقامة الموجودة في جدة!ياسمين تبدو عصبية على الدوام و كأن هناك ما يقلقها ولا تجرؤ على البوح به و على النقيض منها كانت سميرة الزوجة السعودية، فلم تجد فيها فرانسيس على الرغم من اتقانها الانجليزية إلا شخصية سطحية تعشق المسلسلات واقتناء الملابس الفاخرة، و على الرغم من ذلك نجد أن فرانسيس في مذكراتها التي تكتبها تبدي تعاطفاً واضحاً مع معظم الشخصيات النسائية التي تقابلها في الرواية و تتخذ موقفاً صارماً و حدياً من معظم الشخصيات الرجالية خصوصاً التي تنتقد المجتمع المحلي و تبدي نحوة ميولاً عنصرية بل و تغضب و تغادر إحدى حفلات الكريسماس لأن صديقاً لزوجها تمادى في شتيمة عنصرية لسكان البنايةلكن ذلك الموقف الناقد لتفكير الغربيين المقيمين في جدة لا يقابله تعاطف عام مع سكانها السعوديين، بل معاناه مستمرة في محاولة لكشف الأقنعة للوصول للهوية الحقيقية للناس للتواصل مع مجتمع حقيقي دون جدوى، تتحول تلك المعاناة لاحقاً إلى أزمة نفسية تعيشها البطلة خصوصاً مع تسارع الأحداث و ازدياد كثافة الغموض الذي يحيط بها فياسمين صديقتها الوحيدة تبدأ في الغياب لفترات طويلة و لا تخبرها عن الذي تفعله إلا بعبارات غامضة، و تلمحها مختبئة في سطح البانية دون مبرر، كما تبدأ في ملاحظة تحركات مريبة في شقة الغرام السري و التي يتضح لاحقاً أنها ليست كذلك و أن كل ما راج عنها مجرد غطاء لشيء أكثر غموضاً لم تستطع كشفه حتى رحيلها.تنتهي الرواية نهاية دموية عندما يتعرض (فيرفاكس) ضيف فرانسيس وزوجها القادم من الوطن في زيارة عمل قصيرة و لمحة الضوء الصريحة و المنفتحة الوحيدة في وسط غابة الشخصيات التي شوهتها النقود و العنصرية من حولها يتعرض لحادث غامض يؤدي إلى وفاته في صبيحة اليوم الذي تلى عشاء هادئاً في منزلهم و تشك فرانسيس في أن سبب وفاته ملاحظة أبداها بخصوص شيء غامض لاحظة في الشقة العلوية عندما خرج في منتصف الليل بحثاً عن هواء نقي.و تزيد الأحداث غموضاً و دموية عندما يتعرض زوج ياسمين مرافق الأمير لإطلاق نار في ذات الفندق الذي سكنه فيرفاكس البريطاني القتيل و تثور الشائعات بأنه كان برفقة ضابط كبير في حين يؤكد آخرون أنه برفقة عملاء شيعة!و تشاهد فراسيس عبر نافذة السيارة ياسيمن و هي تركب سيارة أخرى برفقة عبدالناصر زوج سميرة الصامت دائماً و برفقتهما شخص ثالث لمحته فرانسيس يدخل العمارة أكثر من مرة بصفته عامل بناء!مالذي يحدث بالفعل؟هل هذه جرائم عنف عادية؟هل هي غطاء لأحداث كبرى لا يعرفها أحد؟هل ياسمين بريئة أم متآمرة؟هل هي متدينة أم جامحة؟لا تعطينا الرواية أية إجابةو السبب هو أن المدينة كلها متآمرة لإخفاء الحقيقة المدينة ذات السماء الصافية و الأجواء الحارة تنقلب فجأة لترعد و تمطر بغزارة تغرق البيوت و تسد الشوارع وكأنها تعطي إنذاراً لفرانسيس بأن تتوقف عن محاولتها كسف المستور و رفع الحجبكأنها تخبرها أن فترة الضيافة انتهت و أن عليها الرحيل قبل أن يزداد غضب هذه المدينة المتلبسةو هو ما تفعله بالفعل فتغادر و في قلبها و عقلها الكثير من الذكريات المنهكة التي تعلم يقيناً أنها لن تشفى منها قريباً وربما لا تشفى أبداً

  • Laura
    2019-05-29 15:20

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:Nearly 30 years on from its original publication, Hilary Mantel's third novel is still as disturbing, incisive and illuminating as ever. In an unusual collaboration, the author has revisited the book to create, with the abridger, this new ten-part serialisation.Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, but when her husband's work takes them to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map either the ever changing landscape or the Kingdom's heavily veiled ways of working. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive and watchful.She soon discovers that the streets are not a woman's territory. Confined in her flat, she finds her sense of self beginning to dissolve. She hears footsteps, sounds of distress from the supposedly empty flat above. She has only constantly changing rumours to hang on to, and no one with whom to share her creeping unease.Reader: Anna Maxwell MartinAuthor: Hilary MantelAbridger: Sara DaviesProducer: Alexa MooreA Pier production for BBC Radio 4.* Beyond Black3* The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher3* A Place of Greater Safety3* The Present Tense3* Kinsella in His HoleCR Eight Months On Ghazzah StreetThomas Cromwell Trilogy:4* Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) 4* Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2) TR The Mirror and the Light (Thomas Cromwell, #3)

  • Flapper72
    2019-06-08 18:01

    Ok, so I'll be honest up front - I absolutely love Hilary Mantel and it's her books I love. Not the stuff that appears on the BBC as a drama on a Sunday evening but actually reading the books. Things always start off as being relatively straight forward and obvious in the mind but the maze of thoughts and ideas that Mantel always seems to present takes you to a place that one could never have imagined at the start of the book. So an independent, young married couple move to Saudi in order for the husband to work, make some money and then they'll come back home again. Obviously Frances the wife is going to go along too right? She'll manage a few months being a lazy of leisure. Mantel describes the difficulties of being a women in Saudi, not just being able to carry along with 'normal' activities but actually almost becoming invisible and irrelevant in society. The loss of autonomy, the loss of independence, the loss of self. A really interesting read and, as is so often the case, based on Mantel's experience - apparently she did the same. Accompany her husband for a short period of work living in Saudi. If you want a book that has a nice clear 'end' where all the ends are tied up then that's not the way Mantel writes. She opens as many questions as she answers, leads the reader to think and consider what really is/was happening to the characters such that the end merely makes you think more (if you see what I mean?). As ever; highly recommended.

  • Rebecca
    2019-06-08 19:19

    This is such a weird book...I don't know what to think about this, almost a month after I finished it. I had adored the other Hilary Mantel books that I read, so I wanted to try her earlier stuff. This was written 25 years ago, so its really early. And it's well written, I guess. But its SUCH an uncomfortable read. Basically, the idea is that a British woman follows her husband to Saudi Arabia for a contracting job he gets, and then slowly goes crazy stuck in the apartment alone. Its set up to be this psychological thriller where Arab culture/Islam stands in for the "other" and the "alien." The main character becomes sort of obsessed with what she perceives as the misogyny and general backwardness/ilogicalness of SA society and it all ends up feeling super politically incorrect to the reader in 2012. At the same time, Mantel has never shied away from creating unsympathetic or nasty main characters, so maybe she meant for the reader to come away thinking that the main character was pretty racist? Finally, the western world and its relationship to the Arab world, and specifically Saudi Arabia was not remotely the same in 1987 as it is 2012, so is it even fair to really judge the book with a 2012 perspective? I don't know...I guess whatever else, this book got me thinking...

  • Pat
    2019-06-08 14:11

    Disappointing from such a talented writer,albeit penned much earlier in her career. The plot is slight:woman follows her husband to his new job in Saudi Arabia and encounters extreme sexual segregation in the society, feels frustrated,parnaoid and out of control and stumbles upon a murky, suppressed sludgefund of secrets, and perhaps a violent mystery within her own apartment complex. The biggest problem with this novel is that we slog thru the dialogue and activities of marginally interesting characters to the bitter end...and there is no clear resolution to the mystery.IMO a much better book , involving modern Saudi Arabia and its rigid sexual polarization is the simple but well written "Finding Nouf." Good story, good ending,interesting characters.('and there's even a sequel). Read Hilary's fantastic Wolf Hall, Bringing Up the Bodies, Beyond Black by Ms Mantel, but steer clear of Ghazzah Street unless you are a masochist.

  • Alicen
    2019-06-06 15:21

    I couldn't resist and stole this from my friend Beth's bookshelf and am so glad I did! This novel, by the same author who recently won the Man Booker Prize, details the tension-filled life on a British woman who moves to Jeddah, Saudia Arabia with her husband. I was completely drawn in by her story and everything that happens to her as she attempts to adapt to life in Saudia Arabia. The story is modeled after "Turn of the Screw" by Henry James and, as such, leads to a suspenseful ending. Definitely recommended!

  • Roosje De Vries
    2019-06-20 14:19

    Een prachtig genuanceerd en spannend boek over vervreemding in den vreemde. Hier: Saoedi-Arabië. Alles is met elkaar elkaar vervlochten. Op elk nivo klopt deze roman: qua opbouw, qua karakters, qua psychologie, qua thema's, qua motieven. Alles past bijna naadloos in elkaar. En dat alles geschreven in een geweldige, soepele en humorvolle stijl.Ook deze vroege roman van Mantel is fantastisch. Niet voor niets won zij 2x de Booker Price.

  • Always Pink
    2019-05-28 16:07

    Sharp, clear-sighted and rather chilling observations on how the pressure to conform (at all costs) within a totalitarian, misogynist and racist society like Saudi Arabia does affect the psyche. Mantel draws on her own experience of living in Jeddah for 4 years and uses a magnifying glass here, while showing how – especially being an ex pat and not speaking the language – one can end up feeling being enclosed in a glass fish bowl with an ever diminishing oxygen supply.

  • Helen
    2019-05-26 14:03

    This is a very interesting, entertaining, and even gripping, novel about life for an English expat in Jeddah Saudi Arabia, that eventually turns into a complex murder mystery. It's also a bit like a soap opera, in that some affairs are revealed in the course of the novel, with the inevitable ongoing discussions of why they occurred, what could happen in Saudi Arabia if they come to light, etc. The reader should give it a chance, since at first, it may seem a bore, with the dwelling on the the interior lives of the women at the house on Ghazzah Street. It's the subtleties of the conversations that the reader should pay attention to, since they hold the key to the subsequent tragedies. This is a well-written novel that does give a glimpse into the restricted life of women in the KSA - as well as the flavor of life in Jeddah at a boom time when oil money was being poured into the construction of extravagant Ministry buildings and so forth. The reader is really placed in the city - sand, heat, dust, and the nameless quality of the armies of transient workers, such as the ubiquitous third world maids. Although the book is somewhat dated, it refers once to a Jane Fonda's workout tape, which is really a blast from the past, I tend to view narratives set in the pre-digital era, the different life style then, with people actually phoning instead of texting, and reading books or engaging in activities other than staring at devices, always refreshing. I suppose I've become a bit of a curmudgeon - since I have lived previously in a time before everything seemingly was mediated through a computer or device, and in fact, since I was much younger then, and life is inevitably more exciting the younger you are, I tend to associate the pre digital era with a more joyful, or more exciting time. It was definitely a more challenging and possibly more patient, and more formal time. Instead of texting or emailing people, which seems rather a throw-away means of communication, once you would either phone, and exchange information that way, or actually write letters, which imposed their own formality or need to communicate a lot of news as briefly or entertainingly as possible. Nothing in those days was "convenient" insofar as apps didn't exist, so everything had to be thought out, for example, travel was altogether different. So many things that we take for granted today, didn't exist then, yet we managed to survive. Another feature of those times was the relative cheapness of everything - mass transit, housing - although the pay scale too was much lower. Society wasn't flooded with cheap goods from overseas. We have cheap goods from overseas, to match the (still) cheap food in the supermarket. But not much else is really cheap. In those days, though, housing was still cheap, as was transit. You could live on your own on a modest paycheck and even travel. So this novel, not only focuses on the life of a couple in their 20s or 30s, which is inevitably going to be more exciting, but also as lived in the pre-digital age, and also lived for several months in a totally different social and cultural environment. So, it's interesting, and although rather dreary overall, also many times fun to read, despite Frances' many ups and downs, on a number of different levels. If you can remember way back when, back to a time when impressing others with a nice dinner party seemed to be all important, and part of cementing social ties, this book hilariously conveys all the fine points of Frances' rather catastrophic dinner party - funny because all of us can remember similar times when cooking didn't turn out as planned etc. One word to remember: Saudiflon *supposedly* just like Teflon! But, back to the novel under discussion: The protagonist, Frances Shore, travels to Saudi Arabia to join her civil engineer husband, who is working on a new Ministry building. Since she doesn't want to take a low-status job, such as file clerk, as she is a professional cartographer, she winds up mostly staying home at the company-provided blandly furnished apartment and developing friendships with the other wives in her building, who also mostly stay at home, and look after their children, cook, etc. These women, having not much else to do, are constantly visiting each other, and become quite friendly. Eventually Frances figures out that something is amiss, and the book rather quickly wraps up with a series of revelations about activities that remain mostly mysterious, except for the loss of a visiting Englishman. I thought Frances happening to see Yasmin from her car, as Yasmin was being driven around by Abdul (Samira's husband) and an Egyptian, too far-fetched a coincidence, although the image of Yasmin being in a car with the husband of a neighbor, rather than her husband, Raji, or a relative, was incredible, since such a thing is never ordinarily allowed in Saudi society. After the final cataclysmic denouement, things are never the same - as all occupants of the entire building are gone, likewise Frances and her husband Andrew, having moved to a mostly deserted construction company compound, much drearier than Ghazzah Street. A couple of interesting quotes: "It seemed such a small thing, obtaining a visa for one unimportant woman to join her unimportant husband, but she had once been assured, by a man called Jeff Pollard, who understood these things, that when corruption took root in a country it spread in no time at all from monarchs to tea boys, from ministers to filing clerks." "She had known he was serious; because he addressed her by her name. It had not escaped her notice that women were always using men's Christian names, but that men only did it when there was something in the offing: a rebuke, a plea." "No matter how much they complain about life here, they hate the thought of leaving. They see some gigantic insecurity staring them in the face, as if their lives would fall apart when they got their final exit visa, as if it would be instant ruin -- as if it had to be straight from the Heathrow baggage hall and down to the welfare department. They just get too old to leave. They have to stay, if they're allowed - war, revolution, come what may. They don't know how to behave anywhere else. The Americans are different. Usually they don't stay long. They don't know how to behave anywhere at all." "Who could have believed it? That they could put up a five-story building, while your back was turned, while your attention was elsewhere? She has been looking at the external city; but the internal city is more important, the one that you construct inside your head. That is where the edifice of possibility grows, and grows without your knowledge; it is subject to no planner's control.""Or she can go alone. Pleading sickness, giving sickness as her excuse, she can apply for an exit visa, and see what happens; see if anyone cares enough to try to stop her. If she has the knowledge, she should bear the consequences of it; but the world does not work like that. Consequences are random here, no more discriminating than a burst of automatic fire; and yet they cut down the future. Consequences are what you get, not what you deserve." There are flashbacks to the couple's time in Botswana, where they had met, and the contrast between life in Gaborone and Jeddah, refracted through the sensibility of a middle-class female English professional of the 80s; the story also includes passages from her diary, which, however, she eventually stops keeping. The novel is socially perceptive and contains numerous wry/acerbic observations on the types she comes across and how she deals with them, as well as the unending social exclusion of women, who are mostly segregated in the home, and are subject to mistreatment by young Saudi sexists on the street, who try to intimidate or insult Western women who may be walking about on their own. Even so, Frances soldiers on in life, mostly successfully, yet she is always brave, resourceful, and canny. The book actually ends on a very low note, with the Shores having moved to a desolate, nearly deserted compound - with views of the Mecca-Medina freeway from every window. So now Frances is even more isolated than ever, but Andrew has indicated that he is planning on breaking his contract, especially since it appears that his employer has run out of money and the main reason Andrew took the job was the huge salary it offered, the thought being the nest egg they could accumulate would enable them to purchase an apartment in London. So her final stint at the Terrex compound might not have lasted too long.

  • Jamie Collins
    2019-05-29 15:22

    3.5 stars. English writer Hilary Mantel lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for four years in the 1980’s. Given that this is the novel she was inspired to write, it was far from a pleasant sojourn.This reads like a nightmare. It has a foggy, feverish, this-can’t-really-be-happening atmosphere. But then Mantel’s prose, while elegant, is always a bit dreamy. I like her style for the most part - it worked fabulously well for me in Wolf Hall - but I wanted this story to be a little more solid and detailed. The non-fiction essay she published about her years in Saudi Arabia has much of the same vagueness.For her novel, Mantel has embellished her miserable experience with a sinister mystery concerning a supposedly unoccupied flat in the gloomy building where Frances Shore lives with her husband, a contractor employed by the Saudi government. Mantel has also denied her protagonist the consolation of her own profession of writing, which must have at least allowed her to fill many of the hours she spent essentially trapped at home while her husband worked. Frances attempts a diary, but has far too little to occupy her time.I wish the book had started with Frances in a more confident, or at least determined state of mind. She’s an experienced expatriate, and yet she seems spooked before she even gets off the plane in Saudi. The very first night she wanders around her flat bewildered and disoriented. Her state of mind only deteriorates, but it doesn’t seem to have very far to go.

  • Tariq Mahmood
    2019-06-05 19:23

    Hillary has very successfully managed to expose the many frictions between Islam and the West in this unique and captivating novel. The East is portrayed as mysterious and secretive as opposed to the intrusive and nosy Western expats. And I would suggest that the same can be applied to Arabs expats settled in UK. As in UK, Arab expats or immigrants are intrusive and nosy, so the story is actually about Western expats in Arab countries. Hillary has captured in minute details all the challenges faced by a a British expat on her first outing in Saudi Arabia, the most extreme face of fundamental Islam. As a reader I was felt as if I was with the couple, living their daily travails and tribulations. The fear, the heresy, the crazy rummers, I felt them and in the process getting a fantastic exposure to the Saudi expat life in 1985. Fantastic book.

  • فهد الفهد
    2019-05-31 12:23

    كوابيس جدة تحيرنا الكتب العظيمة !!! نحتار لأننا لا نعرف كيف نعبر عن عظمتها، كيف ننفذ إلى معانيها المخبئة ونجليها في صفحات قلائل، نتساءل ونحن نكتب عنها، هل فهمناها تماما ً؟ هل هناك مع استمرارنا في القراءة والكتابة ما سيقلب أفكارنا عنها ويعيد صياغتها من جديد؟ الكتب الرديئة تحيرنا كذلك، صحيح أنها منزوعة المتعة، ولكنها تدفعنا للتساؤل، فكما للعظمة وجوهها، فللرداءة وجوهها، فعلى أي وجه رديء سقطنا؟ كثيرا ً ما أتجاهل الكتابة عن الكتب الرديئة، يكفيها ما سلبتني من وقت، ولكني اليوم سأتوقف لأكتب عن كتاب رديء. وقعت على هذا الكتاب وأنا أبحث عن (قصر الذئاب) الرواية الفائزة بجائزة المان بوكر لعام 2009 م للروائية الإنجليزية هيلاري مانتل – عنوان الرواية الأصلي (Wolf Hall)، وقد ترجمتها زينة إدريس، ونشرتها الدار العربية للعلوم ناشرون -. ولكني وجدت بدلا ً عنها هذه الرواية (كوابيس جدة)، جذبني العنوان الغريب، وتأكدت أن المقصود هو مدينة جدة بالفعل وأنا أتصفح الرواية، الكاتبة هي ذاتها هيلاري مانتل صاحبة البوكر، أما العنوان الأصلي للكتاب فهو (Eight Months on Ghazzah Street) وقد نشر في سنة 1988 م، هذه الرواية كتبتها مانتل بعد أربع سنوات قضتها في جدة مع زوجها الذي كان يعمل هناك، وقد قالت فيما بعد أن مغادرة جدة كان أجمل يوم في حياتها. لا أدري ما هي تجربة هيلاري مانتل في جدة، ولكني اعتمادا ً على الرواية يمكنني أن أقول أنها ليست جميلة، يبدو أن هيلاري كرهت جدة كمدينة، وكرهت السعوديين كشعب إلى درجة أنها حولت روايتها هذه إلى هجاء متواصل لكل شيء. تحكي الرواية قصة امرأة بريطانية (فرانسيس شور) تأتي إلى جدة لتعيش مع زوجها المهندس، بعدما قضت جزء ً من الوقت في أفريقيا – يتطابق هذا مع حياة هيلاري فقد عاشت فترة في بوتسوانا قبل قدومها إلى جدة -، على النقيض من الرحالة الغربيين والمستشرقين الذين كانوا يفدون إلى المجتمعات الشرقية، ويعيشون فيها لفترات قد تطول أو تقصر، مختبرين اختلافها عن مجتمعاتهم، محاولين التعرف على الصورة المشرقة للبلد والناس، جاءت هذه البريطانية على وجل، محقونة بكل ما كان الإعلام البريطاني ينشره عن السعودية في الثمانينات، وهي فترة عصيبة على ذلكم المستوى، وسترد في الرواية إشارات إلى بعض الأحداث التي حدثت في تلكم الفترة وأثرت على صورة السعوديين. بعد هذا، كل ما سيأتي في الرواية، ليس إلا هجاء متواصل للسعوديين، وهو ليس هجاء على مستوى القيم وطريقة الحياة المختلفة عن الرؤى الغريبة، وإنما هي هجاء لكل شيء، الجو، اللباس، العادات، الرواية تبدو وكأنها إدانة للسعوديين كمجتمع، فأحداث الرواية مليئة بقصص خطف واغتصاب النساء والتي يبدو أن مانتل تظن أنها ممارسة سعودية !!! التحرش بالمرأة والإساءة لها !!! الرشوة !!! القتل !!! من يقرأ الرواية سيعتبر جدة مدينة كئيبة، والمجتمع السعودي مجتمع خطر ومنغلق بحيث لا يجب الاقتراب منه أو السير حتى في شوارعه !!! رداءة الرواية ليست بسبب هجومها على السعودية، وإنما رداءتها لأنها ليست إلا منظومة فضائحية، بشخصيات وأحداث باهتة غير مقنعة، حتى شخصية البطلة لا يقترب منها القارئ، أما الشخصيات الأخرى فهي بكل بساطة عابرة، هدفها إبراز الفكرة الأساس التي صيغت الرواية من أجلها.

  • Electra
    2019-06-05 16:21

    This book creeps up on you. Just as you are ready to settle on your settee with a cup of coffee and enjoy the trials and tribulations of a Brit abroad, bam! the book starts tackling some of the most important issues of debate for our modern times: religion and how fundamentalism works, the place of woman in society, relations between the West and the East, foreign policies and the Gulf States....the list goes on. This book is pure dynamite. The prose is well written and evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of a fundamentalist Muslim country like Saudi Arabia. The dialogue is very close to how it would have been in a real situation. We have the perceptive eye and ear of the narrator to give us all the detail we need to create a mental picture of the events. We have enough development of the characters to allow empathy or luck thereof, depending...There is a plot so entwined with the character development that it has you gripped by the throat, you are convinced these characters are real, these events are real, this actually happened to a person. The twists and turns, the little gem-like gimmicks of the crafty writer to entice us in the mystery of the plot and keep us page-turning are all there - she reminded me of Patricia Highsmith at times, in intent if not in style.And the most haunting final coup de grace: the very first page, the date on the company not going to spoil the book for you but please read it and pay attention to it - then relate it back to the last chapter once you have read it....a terrible thought will dawn on you...poor Frances and Andrew...Hilary Mantel delivers in spades. I thought her short stories were brilliant, now I find her novels breathtaking. I will keep on savouring her every written word. A must read, thoroughly recommended if you like your mystery novels with suspense, good plot and characterisation.

  • Yuliya
    2019-06-17 16:14

    This is quite possibly the most painfully frustrating book I have ever read. Can you imagine a mystery where the crime never gets resolved? Where the information is so scarce that you can't even begin to imagine who the perpetrators might be? I might have missed the point but I just don't get it! The book is a fictionalized memoir of the author's time in Saudi Arabia. What she does well is portray the mood and the atmosphere of the place as well as the paranoia and suffocation that comes with being cooped up inside in a place where opposite genders 'regard each other with mutual suspicion and terror' but then she also set up this eerie mystery: a vacant apartment upstairs where a man crated up alive... or maybe it's where her neighbors were having an illicit affair... or maybe one of the neghbors tried to get her husband killed... There was also a Malaysian? maid who constantly cried and had the name Elizabeth tattooed on her arm. None of this was ever resolved or explained which I think was meant to show the extent of the main character's confusion but come on! I feel like I wasted two days on this book and gained very little satisfaction in return. Urgh. Would NOT recommend

  • PrintersDevil
    2019-06-16 19:15

    I got to visit Riyadh Saudi Arabia in May 2015 for short period and I was looking for a book that tell me more about the country and life there. That was why I bought this book. I thought it would be interesting to follow the author on her discoveries through living in Saudi Arabia understanding that this was a work of fiction. I didn't like the characters in this book and they didn't like themselves either. There was reflexive disparagement of Saudi society without knowing anything about it which was poor. I think this just reinforces negative Western ideas about this society. I would have been interested to see how Ernest Hemingway would write about this country.The characters were bored with themselves and they were only 30 years old. One wonders if they will allow themselves to live to be 50. Anyway, I stopped reading this book about one third of the way through as I felt it wasn't worth spending any more time on such narrow people.I will continue to search for other books about Saudi Arabia to see what else I can learn.

  • Daniel Simmons
    2019-06-04 11:59

    In this novel, apparently based on her own experiences as a trailing spouse expat in Saudi Arabia, Mantel seems focused more on mood than plotting. So while I see other reviewers complaining (with some justification, certainly) about the number of loose ends that never seem to get tied up, I think that's kinda/sorta the point, really -- you're not SUPPOSED to know what's really going on, and the sense of mystery and unease that you experience as a reader is Mantel's way of channeling the anxiety and dread that her main character feels. That said, I can't pretend I didn't feel a bit let down myself by the ending. Overall: recommended for the writerly craft on display ("Small white-collared waves trip primly up to the precincts of the desalination plant, like a party of vicars on an industrial tour"), not for the story.

  • Dolf Patijn
    2019-06-01 15:58

    Frances Shore, a British cartographer, follows her husband who's a British engineer, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The story evolves mostly around her and the way she experiences the country. It is a chilling, disturbing account of expat life in one of the strictest Muslim countries in the world. It is the first book I've read by Hilary Mantel and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of her work.