In this coming-of-age memoir about a privileged, protected childhood in the exotic milieu of 1950’s Egypt, author Jean Naggar describes a magical time that seemed as if it would never end. But Egypt’s nationalizing of the Suez Canal would set in motion events that would change her life forever. An enchanted existence suddenly ended by international hostilities, her family is quickly scattered far and wide, and Naggar is eventually swept into adulthood and the challenge of new horizons in America. Speaking for a different wave of immigrants whose Sephardic origins explore the American Jewish story through an unfamiliar lens, Naggar traces her personal journey through lost worlds and difficult transitions, exotic locales and strong family values. The story resonates for all in this poignant exploration of the innocence of childhood in a world breaking apart.
“An intriguing way of life that no longer exists. Glamorous, exciting, filled with the sophisticated life of a Jewish family living in Europe and the Middle East, Naggar documents times of elegant lifestyles, to the tumultuous struggles of war…. And like every family, there is passionate love and loss, but always there is the undercurrent of delight and an indomitable will to do more than just survive.” (US Review of Books)
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Traveling back in
The print version contains the pictures while the audio version allows me to listen during my commute.
Time travel is real! I felt like I had actually traveled back in time to be a friend of an Egyptian family. The descriptions were so vivid describing sights, sounds, aromas, tastes and touch. I felt as if I was transported to another time. I listened to the audio version while commuting and looked at the photos in the book at home. Reading the book I lost the intonation, excitement and the presence of someone who was there. Jean Nagar is a master at taking all the senses on a trip back in time to her childhood. I pulled up Google Earth to look at the streets and imagined walking down the streets and into the houses and shops as she described them. I looked up the girls school in England where she spent some of her school years and used Google Earth to walk around the school and the local town. One day I will travel to Egypt to see the places she has described to fulfill my adventure back in time.
Many times Jean describes a scene with all the senses, taste, touch, smell, sounds and sight. I loved them all. I have never read any novel, non-fiction or fiction that included all the senses in describing a scene. One of my favorite scenes was the description of making a holiday food. I hope to make that dish.
I read some comments that criticized the book because it didn't talk about the tragedies of the time....but I guess the reader didn't read the description saying the book was a personal view of Jean Nagar's life...not another rendition of the tragedies going on at the time of which there are many many books. I wanted to read about a personal experience not a historical repetition.
Just couldn't get into this one.