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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (February 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385522002
  • ASIN: B007K4G8GY
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #727,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With a family history of untimely death and madness, Saldana easily took to a career of danger journalism, reporting from risky locales. In a deliberate attempt to stop courting danger, Saldana attempted a normal life at Harvard Divinity School. When the love affair that had provided her a sense of normalcy ended, she opted to take the Fulbright scholarship she had won to study the Muslim Jesus in Damascus, arriving in Syria in 2004 amid the post-9/11 war in Iraq. The tension of American foreign policy and Saldana's own vivid memories of death and destruction witnessed during her reporting life earlier in the Middle East haunted her, particularly when she embarked upon the Catholic rite of spiritual exercises at the Syrian desert monastery of Mar Musa. In lovely prose and with elements of foreshadowing, Saldana shares her struggles to become religious again and overcome feelings that God has abandoned her. Touches of melodrama weigh down an otherwise gorgeous and enlightening read, as Saldana's scholarly knowledge of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism subtly infuse her story. An Eat, Pray, Love for the intellectual set, Saldana's beautiful memoir should not be missed. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

In 2004 Saldaña went to Damascus to study Islam on a Fulbright fellowship. Knowing no one there and lacking living quarters, she went door-to-door, asking for help. Finally, she knocked on a door incongruously labeled “10 Downing Street.” In this as in many other incidents, her writing is most evocative as she carefully describes, for instance, the “perfumed” streets of Damascus’ Old City, “prayer beads dangling from store windows and glimmering in the sun.” She freely admits going to Syria to escape her travails and relieve a broken heart. She discusses being an American in Syria during the Iraq war (“unsettling”), clumsily learning Arabic, her fickle faith, her tendency to leave things unfinished, her habitual falling in and out of love, and her relationship with a young French novice monk. This lovely work is magical and poetic about a part of the world and a time—the Middle East in the post-9/11 era—in which many have become keenly interested. --June Sawyers

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Customer Reviews

The book is very interesting and enticing.
R. DelParto
As the subtitle suggests, Stephanie Saldana's book is a wonderfully compelling personal story of love and faith.
Charles A. Kimball
Have you ever read a book that you couldn't wait to see what happened but at the same time never wanted to end?
Boston Lesbian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am particularly fond of this kind of memoir and The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith ranks high among my favorites ~ Irina Tweedie's Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master, Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness, Mary Swander's The Desert Pilgrim, and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee's The Face Before I Was Born: A Spiritual Autobiography. I feel blessed to have discovered this beautifully written love story and I am so glad that this gifted author has shared it with the world. It is an important story of lasting value to those who tread the spiritual path beyond the confines of traditional established religion. It vividly narrates the passion of one woman's quest for her emotional healing, self discovery, spiritual awakening and personal transformation. It is brimming with soul and resonates with love.

The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith is sensitively written with a poet's ear for the beauty of language and the voice which sings its lyric.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By amazonbuyer on January 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I realize I'm the "odd man out" with this memoir. Most people really loved it.

The prose in "The Bread of Angels" didn't draw me in and hold me, but it did not lose me until midway through. After the middle of the book I had to force myself to finish.

What kept me reading in the first half of the book was the history of Damascus. I never knew that Damascus was a city of refugees because of the ease with which one can enter Syria (no Visa required if an Arab national). I enjoyed my introduction Damascus University (the place to go to receive intensive Arabic) and it's odd mix of students.

Above all loved meeting the people whose lives intersected with Stephanie's, particularly Juanez and Hassan (Iraqi refugee), but they were never fleshed out enough for me. I wanted to know more about them. Perhaps this is because Ms. Saldana's dramatic personal and family history put her in a position to keep people at arms length.

Ultimately what distanced me from the book was the spiritual quest and relationship with Frederic. Both were a little confusing to me. I did not understand what it was that drew Frederic and Stephanie to each other. I do not doubt that they have an amazing connection, but I never got to know Frederic's character and what drew him to Stephanie. Perhaps it was that he trusted God deeply and she did not?

The spiritual journey seemed to give her a life changing paradigm shift, but what exactly caused that shift? Was it her love for Frederic? Because once Frederic enters her life the search for God & faith seems to wane. Perhaps, because Frederic is tangible and God is intangible, the mystical search for God has less weight.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on January 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Stephanie Soldana's book will certainly not escape comparison with Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love - both women undertake journeys of healing and self-disovery across the world after having their hearts broken. Soldana travels on a Fulbright scholarship she got while enrolled at Harvard Divinity School. She starts her year in Damascus, Syria the week before 9/11. Her memoir, therefore, is not only a retelling of first her study of Arabic so she can eventually study Issa, the Muslim name for Yesua/Jesus, but a heart wrenching and heart warming tale of the people of Damascus, some refugees from Iraq and Palestine. Saldana writes about them so wonderfully that we learn something of their essences. It is also her story, the story of a rather mystical visionary girl who has seen tragedy in her young life and seeks to understand meaning in life, going to do what some might call a "vision quest" at a recently rediscovered and rehabbed monastery in the mountains. We live with her through her struggles with a possible vocation and then later with her struggles being in love with a novitiate monk who struggles for months with his own calling.

I really hope the published book contains photos, especially those she took at the mosque in Damascus at sundown, when the people walking through were bathed in light and turned into angels. Many of the scenes are poetry, the writing transcendent, and the characters unforgettable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have a dear friend who relocated to America from Syria and I have tasted some of the pastries and drank of the strong coffee that this author has mentioned ... and I love it. I love this book for its insights of Syria, a country that I have heard so much about and would love to visit someday. I love reading about the Middle Eastern culture and like another reviewer, I hope the finished product will have photos included. If not, I hope Suldana will publish a book of photography after this one.

Like another reviewer said, this book reminded me very slightly of "Eat, Love, Pray." Believe me, this book is way better than that one. It is more intense, more indepth of a person's spiritual journey and more lavish in her descriptions of her journey, her life, her confusion and of the gorgeous country that Syria is. There is nothing sexual of this love affair and I think it is written a lot better than the other book. So, if you're into comparison, I wouldn't even bother. These two books are completely different from one another and this one is just much-better written, in my opinion.

This book is about a Fullbright scholar who traveled to Damascus, Syria, to study the role of the prophet Jesus in Islam. Not only that, she was fleeing her last relationship, where she had her heart broken by another scholar back in the States. This is 2004, where Syria had been named as one of the Three Axis of Evil by the Bush administration, but Saldana managed to carve out a life for herself in Damascus. Not only was she teaching English to Islamic girls, she was also figuring out her life among the ruins of an ancient Christian monastary in the desert, where she experienced deep spiritual revelations.

While at the monastary, she also falls in love with a monk there ...
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