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The Sun at Midday: Tales of a Mediterranean Family Hardcover – January 21, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (January 21, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067941763X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679417637
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,136,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Alhadeff's prose is so wittily precise and casually elegant it's hard to believe she didn't learn English until she was 10--in Tokyo, of all places. Born in Egypt in 1951, educated in Italy, Japan, England, and America, the author comes from a family of cosmopolitan, multilingual Sephardic Jews who "considered ourselves primarily free to be anything we wished"--including Catholic. (Her parents, whose difficult marriage is unsentimentally portrayed, converted.) Lovingly acerbic tales about various wildly individualist relatives combine with personal history in a colorful narrative that trenchantly declares independence from the constraints of "ready-made identity."

From Publishers Weekly

These engaging portraits of Alhadeff's large, wealthy family of Sephardic Jews sometimes seem to have been snatched from free associations. Yet despite their free-floating quality, Alhadeff's humor and keen sense of place and character re-create the ambiance of her youth in exotic settings peopled with intriguing eccentrics. Her forbears migrated from Spain in the 15th century and, via stops in Italy and Turkey, settled in Egypt. In Alexandria, they established one of the country's wealthiest trading houses and were part of an elite community of Sephardim whose lifestyles imitated those of Parisian high society. For convenience's sake, her irreligious parents converted and sent their children to Catholic schools: Alhadeff was 20 before she knew she was a Jew. More confusing, although her name was Arabic and her parents spoke the language fluently, albeit with a slight accent?as they did with all five or six other languages they spoke?she never quite knew where they all belonged. Sojourns in Italy convinced her she was Italian, and no one contradicted her. The entire family were snobs; one relative's address book listed, under Q., the private phone numbers of all the queens she knew. Another, with an avocation for the priesthood, never quite relinquished his taste for the high life and cultivated rich friends who could provide him with off-duty clothes, cars and hospitality. Throughout the jumble of her recollections, Alhadeff, now a New Yorker who founded two literary magazines, Norman and XXI Century?searches with integrity and wit for a clear understanding of her own nature.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 1997
Format: Hardcover
'The Sun at Midday' reviewed by Samir Raafat for the "Cairo Times" Thursday, April 17, 1997

IN HER BOOK, The Sun at Midday, the Alexandria-born Gini Alhadeff runs us through the different members of her family which means flashbacks from Tokyo, Northern Italy, Alexandria, Buenos Aires, Auschwitz, Rhodes, Greenville (Mississippi) and back. The habitats range from palatial villas in Alexandria to a two-room flat in Manhattan with a reference to the Italian fashion house of Krizia founded by the author's aunt, Mrs. Aldo Pinto née Mariuccia Mandelli.

Gardens are everywhere, all of them heavenly, the scent changing with each season and every repatriation.

With the help of a desk top computer and a `Family Tree Maker' software, genealogy buffs will love this book as they eagerly enter a collection of Byronic Mediterranean names belonging to the author's relations: Pinto, Piha, Menashe, Aghion, Tilche, Riches, Alhadeffs, etc., discovering in the process that most middle class Jewish families in Alexandria were connected and that they made good wherever destiny took them. And how, through marriage, they were also related to Lawrence Durrell!

Undoubtedly, these colorful relations is what makes Alhadeff's family worth writing about.

Of all her ethnic and national identities, the reader senses that Alhadeff is taken in mostly by her Jewish ancestry. Not unlike US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Alhadeff discovered her rabbinical roots - in this case Sephardi - in her adulthood. A consequence of this revelation is the Judaica which is palpable throughout `The Sun at Midday.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 29, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating history of a sephardic family from Inquisition days to modern times. Well told, if a bit self indulgent
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