book · review

Virgins Of Paradise (1993) – spoiler alert!

For such a thick book, I found it too quick to finish. Even hesitated on the last pages because I didn’t want it to end. Yes, it is that good. Mbak Dhien, who lent it the book to me, said she’d read it five times and still wanted to read it allover again. Most of the readers gave many compliments in their reviews. Personally, I think Barbara Wood has successfully written the book and pulled my curiosity to read her other books.

This book tells a history of an Egyptian muslim family under the clan of Rasheed from the origin of Amira and Ali Rasheed alone down to their great greandchildren. Year after year is told very smoothly, beautifully, with amazing details of Egypt and The Rasheeds’ life that it felt like I was really there among the characters. From early years of Egypt where patriarchy was a supremacy and being ridiculous for asking women to produce sons and ditching them when daughters were all they could give. Women should cover every inch of their bodies and expose only eyes. Whenever they should leave the house, they had to be accompanied by male relatives or else men will throw pebbles at them. Early years in Egypt weren’t on the women’s side, not even the tiniest bit. No freedom of speech whatsoever. They were merely commodities. Strong feminism then started to float to the surface when Amira’s granddaughters came into the family with big dreams and better education. The other dominant issues in the book are Islam, beliefs, and politics.

No, don’t let that make you think it’s a heavy boring book. Barbara Wood is a smoothsayer, really. She’s an amazing storyteller. Take it from me, because I HATE politics. But learning them from this book didn’t bring nausea even a bit. With mixture of romance, affairs, love, and twisted ends of chapters, I don’t think anyone who’s started reading would know how to stop. It made my heart skip a beat and brought smiles and gloom. It’s addictive.

My favorite character is Camelia. She’s one brave independent girl who’s not afraid to chase her big dream as a dancer and to speak up her mind as a feminist.

Next, I have to find “Woman of A Thousand Secrets” 😀 and I hope all the riots in Egypt will soon come to an end like one of the real-event crisis told in the book.

day thirty two of 365


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