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A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco Paperback – November 11, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Suzanna Clarke and her husband bought a house in the medina of Fez and this is the story of the renovation project and those involved- architects, workmen, bureaucrats and neighbors.
she gives us her experiences with a freshness that will charm even those who know the country well. although she had little prior knowledge of morocco, there are only afew errors (some details about Islam-ramadan, cats).
the book that "A House In Fez" most resembles is Peter Mayne's "A Year in Marrakesh" (also titled "The Alleys of Marrakesh") A Year in Marrakesh, especially for its light tone (no long lectures on history, politics or architecture here).
Peter Mayne was injured in an attack on a cafe in the events leading up to Morocco's independence (1956) and he only wrote the one book (in print!) about this country. We can only hope that the author and her husband, Sandy McCutcheon, also a writer, will enjoy many years of residence and give us updates, not only in their popular blog, but also with future books.
There were paragraphs/sections I particularly enjoyed - whether because of marked wit or charm, or interesting historical insights of which I was not aware.
The book started off well, with quotes like, "Morocco has the mystique of a land from the Old Testament yet appears to be coping comfortably with modernization. Internet cafes rub shoulders with artisans' workshops; peasants on donkeys trot beneath billboards advertising the latest mobile phones", "it was a country where we felt more alive than anywhere else, our every sense engaged", "you looked the farmer or the stallholder in the eye as you quibbled in a good-natured way about the quality and price."
I was hoping of more of the same.
Unfortunately, after the first two chapters or so, the book veered off (and decidedly so) into a tome on building materials and house/kitchen renovation...at least 60% (being conservative) of the book is very detailed tidbits about building supplies and how the kitchen tiles were put in, just like so...for the first half of the book, this level of detail was something I forgave, in the hope that something "really good" was coming as a replacement for this "filler". But alas, most of the book is indeed minute detail about project work.
If you're interested in renovating a run-down "mansion" in Morocco, this may be of particular interest to you...but first read The Caliph's House, which seemed to have more characters, more anecdotes, more lasting humor. If you're interested in learning more about Moroccan culture, this offers mere glimpses. If you want a broader picture, I highly recommend CultureShock Morocco, by Orin Hargraves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Getting ready for a trip to Morocco and this gives good descriptions about buildings and people - a lot of information it will be handy to know that would be boring reading about... Read morePublished 25 days ago by MP in Buffalo Grove
The book seemed an authentic account of a very adventurous couple's amusing and exasperating experience of rebuilding a house in Fez. Read morePublished 1 month ago by musicmom
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt a vicarious bond to Fez. And then when I visited Fez, the details, sensibility for the culture, the daily occurence, the sights, people,... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Veena Bhat
A Moroccan version of Under the Tuscan Sun and is every bit as good. A House in Fez is one of my all time favourite books in any genre. Read morePublished 11 months ago by ARM
My husband and I love to travel internationally, and have traveled on our own to some pretty exotic places. Read morePublished 16 months ago by MBJ
Reminscent of my several days exploring Fez. I love that city and I loved this book.Published 18 months ago by Nanette Anslinger
I enjoyed reading this book to go along with this woman who is trying to restore an old delapidated house and restore it to it's original
beauty . Read more