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The Map of Love: A Novel [Anglais] [Broché]

Ahdaf Soueif
4.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
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Descriptions du produit


A Beginning

Even God cannot change the past.

Agathon (447-401 bc)

--and there, on the table under her bedroom window, lies the voice that has set her dreaming again. Fragments of a life lived a long, long time ago. Across a hundred years the woman's voice speaks to her--so clearly that she cannot believe it is not possible to pick up her pen and answer.

The child sleeps. Nur al-Hayah: light of my life.

Anna must have put aside her pen, Amal thinks, and looked down at the child pressed into her side: the face flushed with sleep, the mouth slightly open, a damp tendril of black hair clinging to the brow.

I have tried, as well as I could, to tell her. But she cannot--or will not--understand, and give up hope. She waits for him constantly.

Amal reads and reads deep into the night. She reads and lets Anna's words flow into her, probing gently at dreams and hopes and sorrows she had sorted out, labelled and put away.

Papers, polished and frail with age, sheets and sheets of them. Mostly they are covered in English in a small, firm, sloping hand. Amal has sorted them out by type and size of paper, by colour of ink. Other papers are in French. Some are in envelopes, some loosely bundled together in buff folders. There is a large green journal, and another bound in plain brown leather, a tiny brass keyhole embedded in its chased clasp. The key Amal found later in the corner of a purse made of green felt-a purse with an unwilling feel to it, as though it had been made in a schoolroom project--and with it were two wedding rings, one smaller than the other. She looked carefully at the etchings inside them, and at first the only part of the inscription she could make out on either ring was the date: 1896. A large brown envelope held one writing book: sixty-four pages of neat Arabic ruq'a script. Amal recognised the hand immediately: the upright letters short but straight, the sharp angles, the tail of the 'ya' tucked under its body. The definite, controlled hand of her grandmother. The paper is white and narrow-lined, bound between marbled grey boards. The stiff pages crackle and resist. When she smooths them open they lie awkwardly, holding a rigid posture till she closes the book again. Some newspaper cuttings: al-Ahram, al-Liwa, The Times, the Daily News and others. A programme from an Italian theatre. Another purse, this time of dark blue velvet. She had upended it over her palm and poured out a string of thirty-three prayer beads of polished wood with a short tassel of black silk. For the rest of the day her hand smelled faintly of aged sandalwood. Some sketchbooks with various drawings. Several books of Arabic calligraphy practice. She flicked through them, noting the difference in flow and confidence. Several books of Arabic exercises, quotations, notes, etc. A locket, curious in that it is made of a heavy, dull metal and hangs on a fine chain of steel. When she pressed its spring, it opened and a young woman looked out at her. It is an exquisite painting and she studies it repeatedly. She tells herself she has to get a magnifying glass and look at it properly. The young woman's hair is blonde and is worn loose and crimped in the style made famous by the Pre-Raphaelites. She has a smooth, clear brow, an oval face and a delicate chin. Her mouth is about to break into a smile. But her eyes are the strangest shade of blue, violet really, and they look straight at you and they say--they say a lot of things. There's a strength in that look, a wilfulness; one would almost call it defiance except that it is so good-humoured. It is the look a woman would wear--would have worn--if she asked a man, a stranger, say, to dance. The date on the back is 1870 and into the concave lid someone had taped a tiny golden key. A calico bag, and inside it, meticulously laundered and with a sachet of lavender tucked between the folds, was a baby's frock of the finest white cotton, its top a mass of blue and yellow and pink smocking. And folded once, and rolled in muslin, a curious woven tapestry showing a pharaonic image and an Arabic inscription. There was also a shawl, of the type worn by peasant women on special occasions: 'butter velvet', white. You can buy one today in the Ghuriyya for twenty Egyptian pounds. And there is another, finer one, in pale grey wool with faded pink flowers-so often worn that in patches you can almost see through the weave.

And there were other things too. Things wrapped in tissue, or in fabric, or concealed in envelopes: a box full of things, a treasure chest, a trunk, actually. It is a trunk.

A story can start from the oddest things: a magic lamp, a conversation overheard, a shadow moving on a wall. For Amal al-Ghamrawi, this story started with a trunk. An old-fashioned trunk made of brown leather, cracked now and dry, with a vaulted top over which run two straps fastened with brass buckles black with age and neglect.

The American had come to Amal's house. Her name was Isabel Parkman and the trunk was locked in the boot of the car she had hired. Amal could not pretend she was not wary. Wary and weary in advance: an American woman--a journalist, she had said on the phone. But she said Amal's brother had told her to call and so Amal agreed to see her. And braced herself: the fundamentalists, the veil, the cold peace, polygamy, women's status in Islam, female genital mutilation--which would it be?

But Isabel Parkman was not brash or strident; in fact she was rather diffident, almost shy. She had met Amal's brother in New York. She had told him she was coming to Egypt to do a project on the millennium, and he had given her Amal's number. Amal said she doubted whether Isabel would come across anyone with grand millennial views or theories. She said that she thought Isabel would find that on the whole everyone was simply worried--worried sick about what would become of Egypt, the Arab countries, 'le tiers monde', in the twenty-first century. But she gave her coffee and some names and Isabel went away.

On her second visit Isabel had broached the subject of the trunk. She had found it when her mother had gone into hospital--for good. She had looked inside it, and there were some old papers in English, written, she believed, by her great-grandmother. But there were many papers and documents in Arabic. And there were other things: objects. And the English papers were mostly undated, and some were bound together but seemed to start in midsentence. She knew some of her own history must be there, but she also thought there might be a story. She didn't want to impose but Amal's brother had thought she might be interested . . .

Amal was touched by her hesitancy. She said she would have a look at the thing and sent the doorman to bring it upstairs. As he carried it in and put it in the middle of her living room, she said, 'Pandora's box?'

'Oh, I hope not,' Isabel cried, sounding genuinely alarmed.

My name is Anna Winterbourne. I do not hold (much) with those who talk of the Stars governing our Fate.


A child forsaken, waking suddenly,

Whose gaze afeard on all things round doth rove,

And seeth only that it cannot see

The meeting eyes of love.

Quoted in Middlemarch

Cairo, April 1997

Some people can make themselves cry. I can make myself sick with terror. When I was a child--before I had children of my own--I did it by thinking about death. Now, I think about the stars. I look at the stars and imagine the universe. Then I draw back to our galaxy, then to our planet--spinning away in all that immensity. Spinning for dear life. And for a moment the utter precariousness, the sheer improbability of it all overwhelms me. What do we have to hold on to?

Last night I dreamed I walked once more in the house of my father's childhood: under my feet the cool marble of the entrance hall, above my head its high ceiling of wooden rafters: a thousand painted flowers gleaming dark with distance. And there was the latticed terrace of the haramlek, and behind the ornate woodwork I saw the shadow of a woman. Then the heavy door behind me swung open and I turned: outlined against a glaring rectangle of sunshine I saw (as I had never in life seen) the tall broad-shouldered figure of my great-uncle, Sharif Basha al-Baroudi, and as I opened my eyes and pulled the starched white sheet up close against my chin, I watched him pause and take off his tarbush and hand it, together with his ebony walking stick, to the Nubian sufragi who leaned towards him with words of greeting. He glanced up at the lattice of the terrace and strode towards me, past me, and into the shadows of the small vestibule that I knew led to the stairs up to the women's quarters. I have not been near this house since my youngest son was nine; ten years ago. He loved the house, and watching him play, and explore while the museum guards looking on benignly, I had found myself wondering: what if we had kept it?

But this is not my story. This is a story conjured out of a box; a leather trunk that travelled from London to Cairo and back. That lived in the boxroom of a Manhattan apartment for many years, then found its way back again and came to rest on my living-room floor here in Cairo one day in the spring of 1997. It is the story of two women: Isabel Parkman, the American who brought it to me, and Anna Winterbourne, her great-grandmother, the Englishwoman to whom it had originally belonged. And if I come into it at all, it is only as my own grandmother did a hundred years ago, when she told the story of her brother's love.

Day after day I unpacked, unwrapped, unravelled. I sat on the floor with Isabel and we exclaimed over the daintiness of the smocking on the child's frock we found, the smoothness of the sandalwood prayer beads released from their velvet bag, the lustre of the candle-glass. I translated for her passages from the Arabic newspaper cuttings. We spoke of time and love and family and loss. I took the journals and papers into my bedroom and read and r...

Revue de presse

"Vivid, passionate and shedding, as true love does, a brilliant, revealing light on the world beyond itself."--The Sunday Telegraph (London)

"Epic. . . . Soueif is at her most eloquent on the subject of her homeland, her prose rich with historical detail and debate. Ultimately, Egypt emerges as the true heroine of this novel."--The Independent (London)

"Ahdaf Soueif has a talent for blending the personal and political and getting under the skin of each one of her characters."--Independent on Sunday (London)

"A magnificent work, reminiscent of Marquez and Allende in its breadth and confidence."--The Guardian

"A bold and vibrant novel. . . . This is political fiction that is also unashamedly romantic--. A triumphant achievement."--Penelope Lively, Literary Review

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 544 pages
  • Editeur : Anchor (12 septembre 2000)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0385720114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720113
  • Dimensions du produit: 20,6 x 13,2 x 2,5 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 206.201 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Awesome 3 février 2014
Format:Format Kindle
This amazing book that deals with the intricacies involved when two people from different cultures , from nations that have different histories and directions who love another come to realize that their lives together is a challenge that is not based on love alone and that time hasn't and will never mitigate the inherent differences. This is a must read for those embracing multi-culturalism, cosmopolitanism and the global economy. One thing for sure is that this novel is a thought-provoking, socially challenging and compelling read. I highly recommend it along with Disciples of Fortune, Sugar Street: The Cairo Trilogy, The Usurper: and Other Stories, which I found to be thought-provoking and insightful.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 un livre si enrechissant! 4 juillet 2002
Ce livre est si beau a lire, on apprends tellement des choses sur l'egypt - son histoire et ses femmes. J'ai passee des longues nuits a le lire ainsi que des longues nuits a y reflechir et a y rever!
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 très bien écrit et informé 24 avril 2012
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
se lit très facilement et reflète la réalité de l'Egypte et de l'Angleterre au tout début du 19è siècle. Une belle histoire d'amour et de rencontre de cultures.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.9 étoiles sur 5  93 commentaires
43 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Book to be savored 8 mai 2000
Par Marjorie G. Martin - Publié sur
I came across A Map of Love quite by accident. I knew nothing of the author and found myself totally entranced from the first paragraph. The first chapters were a little confusing until I was able to sort out who were the characters and who was the narrator. I found the writing style to be crystal clear and as smoothly flowing as a gentle streams luring you into its embrace. It is the story of a young English widow who goes to Egypt at the turn of the century and there meets the love of her life. The story is recounted by her great niece who at the same time interweaves the story of the family in the 1990's. It is skilfully done. Egyptian politics both at the turn of the century and today create an interesting and enlightning backdrop for the stories giving the reader an view not normally found in todays current events. I not only enjoyed the book but heartily recommend it, not only as a great love story but as an insightinto the private life of an Egyptian family.
21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Anna and the Basha 17 avril 2001
Par "peterjoshua" - Publié sur
This book starts slowly, it's a wonderful read for the summer(the beach) or whenever you have the time to read it right through and to absorb the impact of a very proper English Lady (i.e. aristocrat) of the 19th century embracing an entirely new life and circumstances with the man she falls in love with, an Egyptian, who, being persona non grata with the British colonists, results in the same status being conveyed on her. It's not a romance novel, it's far more serious. It's about love in all its many facets, it's a contrast of life in the nineteenth, versus the late twentieth,century. I recommend it, it challenges conventional notions of life in Egypt, as well as giving background to Middle East politics from the inception of the twentieth century. Anna knew duty, and caring. What she had yearned for was love, and it found her, and alongside she gave, and received, love from her husband's mother (her belle-mere), his sister, and all their family. This book embraces the redeeming quality of love. The parallel contrast with her modern-day relative, Isabel, makes the reader pause and reflect. I read this after an extensive blitz on the Patrica Cornwell/Kay Scarpetta novels, which are addictive. The pace here is slower, the language more evocative and wordy. Let it transport you, Anna and her story will stay with you longer than Dr Scarpetta.
27 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "Salamu Aleikum" - Peace be upon you 25 novembre 2000
Par Esther Nebenzahl - Publié sur
Listed among the entries for the Booker Prize, Soueif's novel "The Map of Love" is a narrative of relationship between Britain and Egypt in the last century and a story of cross-cultural love. With innovative techniques, the author draws a parallel between the Egypt of early 1900 and the end of the century, carving the present out of the past. The past is represented by the story of an English woman (Anna Winterbourne) who identifies herself with Egyptian struggle against English occupation and married an Egyptian nationalist (Sharif al-Baroudi). The present is represented by Isabel (Anna's great granddaughter) who is determined to find the roots of her Egyptian ancestry.
Drawing upon different time lines, with interrelationships, and the use of different narrators, Soueif's novel requires an active and attentive reader. At times excessively romantic and with sugary characters, the author compensates with strong, critical, and biased (understandbly so) politics. There are no kind words for Zionism, imperialism, colonialism, and fundamentalism. In her quest to understand Egypt as a nation the author leaves the reader with the underlying notion that things have not changed much during the country's past century. Despite all the "isms" to be blamed for the country's present state of affairs, internal struggle for power is the epicenter.
A passionate, culturally enlightening story, with a beautiful symbolic artifice: the legend of Osiris, Isis, and Horus.
"Salamy Aleikum!" (Peache be upon you)
23 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A magnificent treatment of Egypt past, present, and future 6 septembre 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur
I read an advance copy, and there may be subsequent changes in the published version, but this book is definitely on my gift-giving list for Xmas 2000. In a lilting and effortless style, this page-turner by Soueif captures much that we need to know about the 20th century history of the Middle East -- while retelling the romantic tale of Valentino's 'The Sheik'. But it does SO much more than revisit the heyday of the 'naughty Orient': it explains, analyses, and criticizes a welter of stereotypes, and charts territory for better poliitcal and gender relations in all of the countries upon which it touches.
26 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Anna's journals keep this alive... 2 octobre 2001
Par R. Peterson - Publié sur
Beginning with Fatima Mernissi, my favorite Muslim feminist, I love reading about the lives of women that are so different from mine - and usually, are more intense and more meaningful. Although a good friend who'd lived in Egypt said she had to force herself to get through some parts - I found this story to be gripping enough to hold me. Certainly the best parts are those from the diary and letters of the turn-of-the-century Englishwoman named Anna Winterbourne. After her young husband dies, Anna travels to Egypt, loves how different it is from her world, and eventually pulls away from the stuffy, closed-minded colonial community and falls in love with an older Egyptian nationalist (Sharif). Fast forward 95 years and find Isabel Parkman in New York City routing through her dying mother's things and finding a trunk full of what turn out to be Anna's documents. Because some of the documents are in Arabic she asks a man she is seeing, Omar (an unlikely international conductor) for assistance and he sends her to Cairo to his sister Amal. We learn soon enough that Isabel and Amal are cousins and the two of them begin to uncover the wonders of their ancestor's journal (and letters). Based in Egypt during unsettled times (both in the late 1890s and in the late 1990s) issues of nationalism and culture clashes are mirrored in both story lines. Soueif is much more powerful in her Egyptian characters and history and the relationship between Anna and Sharif is a pleasure to read. Sections of the book devoted to Isabel and her "issues" are considerably less enjoyable - but get through these because as the whole the book is a delightful family saga.
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