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The Hidden Kindle Edition
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|Length: 450 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel begins 1940 with the murder of Aimee Ibrahim's husband Azi. From the first chapter it is obvious there will be tons of mystery and intrigue surrounding his death. An unsuspecting Aimee goes to the university, where her late husband worked, to retrieve her husbands' belongings and is surprised to find a diary. This is no ordinary diary. It is the diary of her mamman Hezba Iqbal Sultan Hanim al-Shezira. The Hidden turns into two seperate stories that run parallel courses.
Hezba's journal tells of her life during 1919, with her abusive husband and secret love interest, Alexandre, who's anxious to begin Cairo's revolution. Hezba is drawn to him as she wants to be heard as well. She's convinced that once the old ways are done with, her female voice will be heard. Hezba isn't interested in being one of the wives' of a man who treats her as if she is nothing. She wants a free Egypt where women and men are on level playing fields. Free of religion, customs, and restraints. Hezba's story is inspiring and worthy of the equal attention given to it.
Aimee seems to be on the same journey of finding her voice when her husband is killed. Without much family, she's uncertain of what to do next. In the '40s, much hasn't changed. Women are still second class citizens who's only purpose is to keep house and bear children. In an effort to solve the mystery that was her husband, she enlists the help of an older man named Farouk. He's as perplexing as her late husband Azi, but they have an undeniable connection.Read more ›
Chumas' mystery becomes a secondary player to the turmoil in Egypt itself as it struggles to become a country free of foreign influence. With this in mind, the "Suspense" for which this novel won its prize seems unimportant as exemplified by the novel's parallel story--a first person narrative written in journal format by the novel's main heroine, Hezba,the daughter of an influential sultan in the early 20th century.
Headstrong Hezba is strategically married to a man she does not love. Born in a harem with personal servants and unlimited wealth, Hezba knows nothing of the outside world of poverty or the injustice of those not in power, but she does know the limitations of her own existence. As a woman, she lives the life of a pampered slave;her opinion outside of her small circle of influence within the harem is worthless and when not warranted subject to cruel physical punishment. When she meets the handsome Alexandre, brother of her tutor, she falls hopelessly in love and being Hezba, tumultuous and willful, she figures out a way where she can get what she wants.
Within Hezba's narrative, the reader is treated to an inner look at a woman's life in the Egypt of the early half of the twentieth century.Read more ›
The narrative is all over the place. It jumps between story threads sometimes within the same paragraph. Another annoying thing is that the author thrusts opinions down our throats and doesn't let the reader develop their own views. The ending is no surprise, it is telegraphed all the way through the book. Sex is mostly short and brutal. Even with Hezba's lover Alexandre it is quick but with a little more foreplay than with her husband.
The diary is unconvincing. No young woman in 1919 would write like that. Much of it is written in the present tense whereas diaries are written after the events. Some terms used are not of the period. For example she says that she suffered from depression. The term 'depression' was not in use until the 1930s; the word used in 1919 would have been melancholia. Similarly, the expression 'husband rape' is a much more modern term. There are many more anachronisms in the diary.
The 1940 setting in Cairo is full of implausibilities. A large flashing Coca Cola billboard! Aimee persuaded to act as a dancer/prostitute in a sordid nightclub. She is only prevented from fulfilling the second part of the job description by the fortunate intervention of someone she knew who just happened to be in the audience.
I did not like the book for lots of little reasons that add up to one big mess.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book has 2 things going for it. 1) the format of interspercing current action with diary action of a generation before & ending each with a cliffhanger. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
I found the book tedious at times. The aurhor's use of telling the story by flipping between a pre WW1 diary and the Egyptian world of pre WW ll became something this reader... Read morePublished 6 months ago by aarond
A lot of characters to keep track of, but overall an interesting read.Published 8 months ago by ricadc
I started this when I was studying for finals when I needed a break - cooking meals and such. It was great - the times of the 1940's and a generation earlier in an exotic part of... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Joanie
I really enjoyed the way Miss Jo Chumas jumped from one era to another flawlessly. Finally at the very end things do come together. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Burl A. Etue
Lots of foreign words, feelings, not much action. Significant cultural differances.Published 11 months ago by druckmanw
Very slow read and incredibly depressing. After 300+ pages of buildup, the author ended the story in less than 30 pages.Published 12 months ago by Jennifer H
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