Saturday, 28 January 2017

B is for ...?

Many thanks if you're following this blog in which I aim to read my way around the world. The last book took us to the South of Spain, Andalusia in fact, but where shall we go this time?
I fancied a change of scene and then as if by magic, whilst scrolling through my unread books on Amazon, I came across a little beauty; a book that combines the past ( 1950's) and the present, set in what was a beautiful, cultural and historical middle Eastern city more likely known in the West today for the sheer devastation caused by bombing and terrorism.
Today we're off to Baghdad and the book that has taken me on this magical journey is 'The gardener of Baghdad' by Ahmad Ardalan.
I loved reading about the Baghdad of old as well as the developing romance between Ali the gardener and Mary, the daughter of the British Governor. The story is told through the eyes of Adnan, a bookseller ready to pack up his bookstore after the latest bombing when he comes across Ali's memoir. This is a book that works on many levels; first and foremost it's a romance  but it's also deeper than that embodying cultural differences, nostalgia but above all it's the story of hope. The writer not only expresses hope that true love can ultimately triumph but also that good can come from evil and that we learn from the mistakes of the past. Although saddened by the picture of modern day Baghdad that is painted, I am heartened as well by the hope of the author that one day the warring factions will stop fighting and come together to rebuild the city. It may seem far-fetched at the moment but just like the path of true love, we have to believe in the future.

The gardener of Baghdad
Two people, one city, different times; connected by a memoir. Can love exist in a city destined for decades of misery?

Adnan leads a weary existence as a bookshop owner in modern-day, war-torn Baghdad, where bombings, corruption and assault are everyday occurrences and the struggle to survive has suffocated the joy out of life for most. But when he begins to clean out his bookshop of forty years to leave his city in search of somewhere safer, he comes across the story of Ali, the Gardener of Baghdad, Adnan rediscovers through a memoir handwritten by the gardener decades ago that beauty, love and hope can still exist, even in the darkest corners of the world.

If you want to come with me on my journey around the world I'm looking for books set in a location beginning with C or D. Please leave a comment on this page with your suggestions.

Julie Ryan is the author of the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna's Journey, Sophia's Secret and Pandora's Prophecy. You can find out more about her here

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