Read Marrakesch. by Esther Freud Anke Knefel Online


Ein Sommer in Marokko - für die siebenjährige Bea und ihre fünfjährige Schwester nichts als ein schönes Ferienerlebnis. Vorerst, denn es sind die frühen siebziger Jahre und Beas Mutter sucht etwas ganz anderes in der Fremde: Freiheit und Liebe. Eines Tages tritt Bilal, Freund, Liebhaber und marokkanischer Weggefährte, in ihr Leben und plötzlich bekommt die Zeit in MarokkoEin Sommer in Marokko - für die siebenjährige Bea und ihre fünfjährige Schwester nichts als ein schönes Ferienerlebnis. Vorerst, denn es sind die frühen siebziger Jahre und Beas Mutter sucht etwas ganz anderes in der Fremde: Freiheit und Liebe. Eines Tages tritt Bilal, Freund, Liebhaber und marokkanischer Weggefährte, in ihr Leben und plötzlich bekommt die Zeit in Marokko ein völlig neues Gesicht ...------------Hideous Kinky begins as a small, cheerful autobiographical novel following Thurber's variation on Wordsworth: "Humor is emotional chaos recollected in tranquillity." In the mid-1960s, two girls, ages 5 and 7, travel with their mother from London to Marrakech. Also along for the ride are John, Mum's boyfriend, and Maretta, John's wife. Though the author is a descendant of Sigmund Freud, the title of her first book has little to do with the pleasure principle. Instead, it is the only phrase the sisters have heard Maretta speak, one that quickly becomes an all-purpose epithet: "One of the shepherds whistled and the dogs slung to the ground. Bea raised an eyebrow as she passed me. 'Hideous kinky,' she whispered." Esther Freud's vocabulary and tone veer easily from the childlike to the more sophisticated, particularly when she recounts speech or circumstances beyond a child's comprehension. Once the group arrives in Marrakech, John and Maretta split off, and Mum hooks up with various men and pursues spirituality. The children, meanwhile, want nothing more than to be normal--or at least not to be so embarrassed by their mother's Islamic fervor: "'Oh Mum, please...' I was prepared to beg. 'Please don't be a Sufi.'" In Hideous Kinky, people appear and disappear with little reason or explanation. Though most of the characters are differentiated by one outstanding feature, Bilal, the itinerant builder and magician's apprentice who becomes one of Mum's lovers, is more complex. The narrator loves and trusts him from the start, and when she asks him if he will eventually return to England with them, "Bilal closed his eyes and began to hum along with Om Kalsoum, whose voice crackled and wept through a radio in the back of the café." Hideous Kinky is curiously divided. The first half is a lark. The girls explore Marrakech, picking up the language and even passing themselves off as beggars. The family's only worries are about money, and these are soon cured by the next bank draft from their father. But the second half is more melancholy. Mum's religious zeal becomes rather less endearing, and as the girls' adventures turn more dangerous, local rituals and customs begin to lose their charm: "I didn't like to think about the camel festival. The camel, garlanded in flowers, collected us from our house in the Mellah, and we had followed it out of the city and high into the mountains in a procession of singing." The parade ends, however, with the animal's beheading. "Occasionally I looked at Bea to see if she was running over these events like I was, the sound effects living their own life behind her eyes, but she gave nothing away." In the end, Hideous Kinky is a novel less about an exotic country seen through an innocent's eyes than about family, about having a deeply embarrassing mother, an older sister who does everything before you, and a distant father. It escapes sentimentality through simplicity: "Bilal was my Dad. No one denied it when I said so." The author, her sister, and her mother spent two years in Morocco, and while Esther Freud may not have invented her subject, she has re-created it with a light touch and delicate irony....

Title : Marrakesch.
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9783548602974
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Marrakesch. Reviews

  • Fabian
    2019-03-17 13:03

    Quaint & beautiful. Why Kate Winslet played the mother in the film version after doing "Titanic" is obvious... this is an attractive role. The matriarch is positively enigmatic, & the little girls are total darlings. Morocco is a land of enchantment & magic (my one day spent there was one of my most memorable experiences ever), and just like that North African country of camels, couscous, acrobats, bazaars, scorpions, winding roads, this book manages to, in less than 200 pgs, cast one tremendous spell.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-03-04 17:03

    There are so many many many many novels which are really memoirs and this is another. I guess they are all published as novels becausea) If you make up stuff in a memoir and you get found out you get nailed to a wall and crows peck out your eyesb) People buy novels, not memoirs. A memoir screams MY LIFE IS REALLY INTERESTING WHILST YOURS FRANKLY ISN’T and a novel is like, I ain’t saying nuffin, I’m just here to cheer you up on a cold wintry evening, pull up a chair, light the light, it’s just you and me for an hour or so sugar, whaddya say? So some time in the early 70s a hippy family jaunts off to Morocco then the dad falls out with the mum and goes back home and the mum then drags the two kids all over from Marrakesh to Algiers as she vaguely decides to be a Sufi or whatever else has flitted into her peripatetic brain that day.It’s all filtered through the alleged 5 year old girl but this is a 5 year old going on 11, I liked the voice of the narrator but it weren’t no five year old I ever met. That was more than a little bit of a stretch. The stuff they did was more of a problem. It was just the kind of crap anyone would do. You know, buy stupid bits and bobs, eat weird meals, meet random persons and be best friends for 48 hours then catch a bus to somewhere else. Go to a bank and hope the ex hubby or rich daddy has wired some money. It was What We Did on Our Holidays. It was like The Florida Project (great recent movie) – look, kids are good at finding fun almost anywhere. Kids are great at surviving the stupidest parents, and this parent was really most aggravatingly extra-stupid.Note for Kate Winslet fans : after Titanic, in 1998 Kate starred in the movie version of this book, so she plays a young woman wandering around trying to find spiritual enlightenment in Morocco. Immediately after she made Holy Smoke, in which she plays a young woman wandering around trying to find spiritual enlightenment in India. The way to tell them apart is that that which is merely hinted at in Hideous Kinky is fully revealed in Holy Smoke.

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-03-12 13:00

    You have to hand it to the Freud family. They know how to have colourful lives. OK, they come from pretty historically significant stock which tends to give you a bit of a leg-up in the interesting stakes. Not many of us get to have a historically renowned thinker for a Great-Grandfather or a famous artist for a father, both of which tend to get you invited to dinner parties on the grounds that you'll be a purveyor of fine anecdotal recollections about some hidden family eccentricity or scandal. For my part my great grandfather was a shipwright and my Dad was Director of Prosthetics and Orthotics. Admittedly this meant that there were frequently large numbers of artificial limbs in the hallway plus a great many funny-but-not-while-you're-eating style medical stories to be had but none of these are going to put me on the society A-list. Luckily you don't need to invite Esther Freud to dinner in order to get all the crazy little insights and dark secrets from her family. She's provided many of them here in this nifty autobiographical tome about her itinerant childhood in the exotic perfumed bazaars and mystical Sufi retreats of 1970s Morocco. A delightful jolly through the sun baked alleys of a most unconventional childhood in a very British way. If this is not enough for you and you crave more Freudian family facts then you can always pick up a copy of Harpers Bazaar where sister Bella, now a renowned knit wear designer and avant garde society darling can be found discussing other elements of the family history.

  • Salma
    2019-02-21 10:12

    حصل أن شاهدت فيلما عن أم انكليزية شابة تأتي المغرب مع ابنتيها الصغيرتين بحثا عن حياة صوفية و خوض تجربة روحية، و تعيش هناك مع صغيرتيها حياة متسكعة فقيرة شاقة مليئة بالمغامرات... الفيلم كان مبهجا و ملونا بشكل ملفت، و بدت كل الصعوبات فيه مذللة كما في حكايا الجدات... الأمر الذي أثار غرابتي، فبحثت عن قصة الفيلم، فتبين أنه مقتبس من شبه سيرة ذاتية لمؤلفته إيستر فرويد، و هي روائية بريطانية، و التي تحدثت فيها عن رحلتها مع أمها و أختها للمغرب حين كانت صغيرة... فالراوية في الكتاب هي الطفلة ذات الخمس سنوات، و كل شيء يروى من وجهة نظرها... و هذا ما يفسر تلك الروح المتوثبة و المبتهجة في الفيلم... مما دفعني لقراءة الرواية علي أحظى ببهجة مضاعفة... إلا أني لم أجدها ممتعة كالفيلم، و ذلك لأنها قائمة على الوصف لكل تلك الأجواء الشرقية الملونة، و أنا كم أكره كثرة الوصف! هأما العنوان هديوس كنكي فمعناه الحرفي شائن شاذ، لكن ليس هذا هو المقصود بالعنوان و لذلك لم أترجمه، و إنما هما كلمتان كانت تستخدمهما الفتاتان في تلك اللعبة الكلامية التي يلعبها الأخوة عادة، و لم تكونا مريدتين للمعنى و إنما للوزن الغريب حين النطق، تقول الأولى هديوس ترد الأخرى مباشرة كينكي... ثم تقومان بترديد الكلمتين طوال الوقت... و يكفي إلقاء كلمة منهما حتى ينكسر صمت بسبب خصام أو عراك و تبدآن من جديد...هفكرة العنوان ذكية جدا، و هي تجل جميل لرابطة الأخوة، فهذه المشاكسات بمثابة شيفرة سرية بينهم، لا تبلى مع تقدم العمر و افتراق الطرق... إذ يكفي استحضارها حتى يشعر الأخوة بأن الرابطة بينهم ما زالت على ما يرام... و لذلك أنا ما زلت أحب هذه المشاكسات الكلامية المزعجة مع أخوتيلا بأس بالرواية على أية حال... نجمتين من خمس لها... و أربع للفيلمسلمىتشرين الثاني 2015---إيستر فرويد

  • Jackie
    2019-03-16 09:17

    I'm not sure why so many people love this book. I see no reason to celebrate a flaky mother who neglects her kids. She annoyed me in her selfishness. No, it was more than that; I hated her.The story wasn't terrible, it just really bothered me. As the book went on, it was less adventurous and more heartbreaking. I wished I could reach into the book and slap the hell out of Julia (the mother).I'm sure I'm gonna piss off a lot of people who loved the book, but I can't see the beauty in neglecting children to the point of starvation.

  • John
    2019-02-19 17:02

    A strange book in many ways; her first novel I think. Labelling it a novel does not seem right as it reads much more like a travel log of Morocco and feels autobiographical. I wasn't surprised therefore to discover that Esther Freud had lived there for 2 years as a child with her mother and sister. NB. The unnamed narrator of the story is living there with her mother and elder sister. It is in many ways life observed through the eyes of children – the narrator, a wide eyed little girl and her slightly older sister, who is rather hard and very cynical. I felt that the latter had been deprived of her childhood. This has, I suspect, largely come about as a result of living with her impressionable, hippyish mother. Bea (the name of the elder sister) is in many ways the head of the family unit.The young narrator “adopts” one of her mother's lovers, Bilal, as her father and the relationship between them is one of the best things in the book for me. Seeing him through the eyes of a little girl he is clearly very attractive to women.The story, if it is a story, is really a series of vignettes set in Morocco with all the colours, flavours sounds, smells etc of the country. Recommended for anyone wanting a taster of that country and life there.The title “Hideous Kinky”? read the book to find out. But don't get too excited...

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2019-03-22 10:59

    I remember the film of this book vaguely, and I personally enjoyed the film more than the book, which doesn't really capture the atmosphere of Africa in the same way as the film did. Nevertheless, Hideous Kinky is still a very good novel and an interesting adventure taken by an unconventional family.

  • Josie
    2019-02-25 12:09

    I utterly adore this book. The vibrant, sensory descriptions of Marrakech and Morocco are delicious to read, and the relationship between the sisters is realistic. The narrator (the unnamed younger sister) looks at things sometimes naively, sometimes with a wisdom beyond her age. I found myself empathising with Bea more - I suppose because I'm an older sister too, but also because she was very much like me personality-wise (the sensible one). Sometimes characters are introduced then tantalisingly whisked away, but overall it was an incredibly moving book.

  • Patricia
    2019-02-26 14:58

    Not many adult books are written from a child’s perspective and not many of those books are good. This is. The narrator is a five year old who travels with her seven year old sister and her mother to Marrakech. It seems to be the 60s because everyone is very free. School? Not necessary. Brushing teeth? Not happening. Dentil problems due to not brushing? Oh well. Money to pay the rent? It will get here, eventually.The narrator chronicles the sister’s journey as their mother drifts around Marrakech. It is a delightful story full of other drifters, Moroccans, and children. It’s also full of the sights and sounds of the markets and hotels of Marrakech.

  • Lynn
    2019-02-19 14:05

    Just like the narrator's mother, this book meanders along rather aimlessly. And rather than be enchanted or amused by the character of a young woman who takes her two young children to Morocco in search of 'enlightenment', I found myself becoming quite angry with her fecklessness and what I saw as neglect of her children's needs.The writing itself is strong, but I was also quite shocked when the narrator's age is eventually revealed as four. The character of a young child is never really captured by Freud in this book.

  • Kathy
    2019-03-07 11:18

    I thought I wouldn't like this at first, but actually it was really good. I think the title does it a real disservice because it sounds so ridiculous. Once you know what it means, it makes sense, but when you first pick up a book, the title shouldn't be so off-putting, should it?That aside, this is a very subtle piece of writing. The child's point of view is strictly adhered to, so no interpretation of events is offered. Yet the reader is given plentiful evidence of the child's increasing distress and grief over the rootlessness and disorganisation of the life to which the mother exposes her. She is too young to be able to separate herself from her mother (as the slightly older sister is forced to do), so she has to just cling on and try to survive.From the feminist point of view, this book is full of ironies. The mother has gone off on her own to 'find' herself, yet she is still economically dependent on men and her daughters' habit of searching for any men that they feel might rescue them is proof that this dependence is being passed on to the next generation. Their lives are lived in the suspension of waiting ... either for the father to send them money, or some one or other of their mother's male acquaintances and boyfriends to supply their material and emotional needs.This is a fascinating exploration that manages to chart the awakening of consciousness of the late sixties/early seventies, while also showing how the economic shackles of the past prevented any real achievement of freedom for women. In the end, the children are burdened with the results of their mother's apparently impotent and futile struggle for independence.

  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    2019-03-21 14:03

    Superb imagination and control, that's what the author exhibited in this novel. From the book's cover I learned that this had been made into a film with Kate Winslet (of the Titanic) in the lead role. I haven't seen it yet, but I think Ms. Winslet indeed fits the role of the young, hippie mother with two daughters, ages 5 and 7.They were English. For some unclear reasons, the mother took her kids away from London and went to Morocco. The father was left in London, but it wasn't clear also if he and Ms. Winslet's character were married or if they had lived together (the kids have vague memories of him though). The father of the children would send her money on a regular basis but it was barely just enough to last until the next remittance which often was late in coming.Why were these things unclear? Because the narrator here is the 5-year-old daughter. Unless I missed it, her name was not even mentioned, same as her mother's (who was always referred to as "Mum"). The narrator, however, called her elder sister "Bea".How a 5-year-old look at things is definitely different from that of an adult. So it was simply marvelous that the author succeeded in keeping this as a child's wayward and undisciplined narrative and yet from the merest of clues you get from it you get to know the adult story behind the child's story.There is love here. And loss. The mother had a Muslim lover, a good man whom the children came to love, but who couldn't earn enough so he disappeared. The kids looked for him, and talked about him, and from their childish prattle, you would feel how much they missed him. When they have no money, they would go hungry. The 5-year-old would have a stark description of this: "I am hungry". Then the reader would feel her hunger. Several times, she and her sister were placed in real danger, like when she and her mother (with her sister left behind a friend's house) were stranded, penniless, in a remote place after hitchhiking. Nighttime was fast approaching. But the child narrator was oblivious to the danger and simply told that they were tired walking pointlessly, so they sat against a wall and she closed her eyes and imagined her sister Bea in her comfortable bedroom, with her toys, maybe with some biscuits and lemonade.A blurb says that this novel "has a delightful lightness of being"...

  • C.
    2019-03-15 16:58

    An interesting book for its narrative point of view. It is the story of two children going to Morocco with their thoroughly Bohemian mother and is told from the perspective of the youngest child (aged three or four). It was fascinating because there was very little in the way of tone - defined by the IB English A1 Bible as 'the attitude of the author or narrator to their subject'. What I mean is that there was very little judgement - everything was described, but the only conclusions were directly observable ones, like that she didn't like something because it was dirty, not because it was inherently bad. And it's incredibly accurate because little kids don't judge, they just observe. They have so little experience that they think everything that happens to them is normal, regardless of how abnormal it actually is. In this case, I kept waiting for something to be judged. For example, it being set in a predominantly Muslim country, and being interspersed with descriptions of women wearing veils and things like that, I kept expecting that someone would say something disapproving, because I kept forgetting it was written from a child's point of view.But that never arrived. After a while I thought I detected a hint of dislike for the unstable, nomadic, hand-to-mouth existence the characters were living in, but at first I thought it was just the biases of my relatively conservative upbringing rearing their ugly heads. But later events proved that it was not all of my imagination.I didn't like it that much, really. I only read it because I'd heard it was good. But definitely an interesting exercise in narrative point of view. It's a quick read - if you're interested in literary technique at all, it would be worth reading it just for that.

  • Tim
    2019-03-03 16:55

    A light, easy, possibly superficial, read that charts the life of two young children and their mother on the hippy trail in 60s Morocco. Whether you find the novel liberating or frustrating will largely depend on how you perceive the actions of the mother. While clearly a loving parent, her lifestyle leads to the children starving, begging, sleeping rough, taking narcotics and even being abandoned on the streets of Marrakech while the mother takes off on a whim to become a Sufi.While it's interesting to read about their unusual lives, and it makes a perfect short novel to read on a long flight to Morocco, it doesn't really do much with the material. There's plenty of opportunity here for examining the characters, their motivations, the reasons behind the choices they make, and the ethics of leading the hippy life when you have two children to be responsible for, but this never really happens. There are some colourful characters, but there's little insight into the country, its people, beliefs or culture.A book to take on holiday, but not return with.

  • Storyheart
    2019-03-09 16:53

    One of the rare instances where I preferred the movie to the book. Kate Winslett was perfectly cast and the setting was very intriguing.

  • Joana
    2019-03-05 15:15

    I like the author's writing style: very simple, subtle, poignant and funny at times. And this one had a better story than the other book I read from her (Love Falls), which ended up disappointing.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-21 14:54

    I felt somewhat sorry for the children; it was an uncomfortable story.

  • Alex
    2019-03-08 16:58

    I think the hardest thing for an author to get right is striking the balance between either giving the reader too little information or issues to explore, or too much: prescribing conclusions without leaving time or room to ponder. I can’t quite work out if Hideous Kinky suffers from a dearth of thought provoking material (i.e.- it’s dull), or is actually refreshingly free.Let’s get this out of the way- Hideous kinky has no plot to speak of. It’s essentially about a mixed up mother of two, now split from husband, trying to escape reality in Morocco. The family is dragged about for a bit on mother’s whim with some disconnected suspense-less adventures, before the fun fades when the older daughter gets toothache, and they decide to head for home. There, rather abruptly, the book ends.A book this short needn’t have a gripping storyline to be good, though (not least when it’s autobiographical, which, apparently, it is). The Moroccan backdrop and strange characters are possibly enough to hold a book together, provided the characters are deep enough, and the imagery is vivid. So is it?Hideous Kinky is written as a firsthand account by a 4 year old girl, and as such, its viewpoint is candid and naïve, without the clutter of adulthood or the reflection. It is self-absorbed, but not introspective. As we follow the unnamed girl through Marrakeshi markets and Moroccan hitch-hikes, everything is told straight with child-like perception; strange experiences are explained well, but not as vivdly as you might expect. Definitely apparent is that for a five year old, Moroccan mint tea is no less an oddity than English black tea (and neither takes that much explaining). Certainly her mothers’ antics- religious fervour and ambiguous relationships with a collection of male characters - aren’t covered in any more depth than her mention of her mother applying lipstick on the top floor of a bus. It can’t however be read entirely as a 4 year old’s account- some of the insight and language is too sophisticated, which looses a bit of its authenticity.In fact, it’s the lack of detail, as much as the information which is in the book which is intriguing. But still, I can’t help asking myself; is the mother an enigma even to herself, whose confusion and inadequacy is sub-consciously absorbed and emitted by the child narrator, or is she just a 2-D character? Are the men she liaises with deliberately monochromatic as intentional caricatures, or is it just laziness?I gather the book is in some way a genuine personal account, which accounts for a lot. Guster once wrote-“ honesty is easy, fiction is where genius lies”. And sometimes with autobiography, the effort required in a book to make it readable isn’t bothered with, because it already should be perfect- it’s true to life. Which doesn’t make for good literature.I can see, however, how it would inspire a worthwhile film- the mannerisms and shape of the characters which are only implicit in the book can be brought to life, and made explicit in film. It’s difficult to have quite such 2-D characters as there are in the book when they’re played by 3-D actors, which is why even though I’ll only give the book 2 out of ten, I’m still going to bother watching the film.

  • Shaz S
    2019-03-03 09:05

    Blurb on the back: The debut novel from the author of "Summer at Gaglow, " called "a near-seamless meshing of family feeling, history and imagination" by the "New York Times" Book Review. Escaping gray London in 1972, a beautiful, determined mother takes her daughters, aged 5 and 7, to Morocco in search of adventure, a better life, and maybe love. "Hideous Kinky" follows two little English girls -- the five-year-old narrator and Bea, her seven-year-old sister -- as they struggle to establish some semblance of normal life on a trip to Morocco with their hippie mother, Julia. Once in Marrakech, Julia immerses herself in Sufism and her quest for personal fulfillment, while her daughters rebel -- the older by trying to recreate her English life, the younger by turning her hopes for a father on a most unlikely candidate. Shocking and wonderful, "Hideous Kinky" is at once melancholy and hopeful. A remarkable debut novel from one of England's finest young writers, "Hideous Kinky" was inspired by the author's own experiences as a child. Esther Freud, daughter of the artist Lucian Freud and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, lived in Marrakech for one and a half years with her older sister Bella and her mother. My Thoughts: The book has all the elements that could have made it a beautiful read. 1960s, Morocco, hippies and a spiritual search. But unfortunately it's not. The book lacks a soul. The words seem forced and the sentences contrived. I guess the author tried too hard to make the story plausible from the point of view of a five-year-old but fails. There is no plot to speak, just random episodes stringed together with vivid descriptions of the sight and sounds around th characters. The novelty wears off pretty quickly. There are some heart-warming moments in the book like the relationship between Bea and her sister and when they try to sell their oranges to buy their mother a Christmas present but these are few and far between. The book is pretty short and a great way to spend an afternoon but I wouldn't rate it a good read. I don't know what it is doing on the list of 1001 books.

  • Peter
    2019-02-21 16:14

    Feckless mother or enlightened childhood?This for me feels a hard book to review as I have mixed feelings about it or maybe just the message that's intended.This is a tale of two young children taken to Morocco in the 1960's by their hippy mother and their experiences there.There is no doubt that the book is well written from the point of a young girl which is maintained throughout,no mean feat in itself, but that also means that the narrative becomes meandering just like their mother's wanderings and also no explanations are ever given. We see an abundance of experiences from the naive point of view of a child who sees adventure everywhere with no thought of the consequences wanting to make friends wherever they whether they be old or young,male or female,wealthy or pauper. The depiction of life in Morocco is very atmosphere as we see the daily struggle that many people have,particularly women in a male dominated country,just to survive the daily grind.However,if the message is a feminist one then it becomes a little muddled IMHO. The mother sets of to Morocco to find herself yet her reliance on men soon becomes painfully obvious whether it be waiting for the children's father to send money out or a local male,Bilal etc,to provide for them either financially or as company and protection. We also see a young girl who must rely on her mother for everything because she is not old enough unlike Bea to stand alone this becomes more and more desperate with time as her mother seems to become ever more oblivious to her children's needs.Despite the mother seeming to feel that they are living some sort of idyll in Morocco the children become ever more desperate for the trappings of Western life, Mars bars, Christmas etc.Now whilst I found this book an engaging light read it failed to really grab me and am unsure quite why it is on the '1001 books before you die' list but that could just be me.Feckless would be my vote.

  • Aisha
    2019-03-03 17:11

    This book was a bit odd. It was great to see the cultural aspects - such as how blowing your nose and sneezing is 'done' differently in Morocco (or this is the sense I get in the book) but as a story it's a bit weak. I didn't really get vibrant descriptions about the land or culture or anything really which I would have liked, as the glimpses we did get were gorgeous. This story is essentially about a mother who somewhat neglects her children, actually leaving one for an unknown period of time with a friend and further drama ensues from here. And why did she leave her daughter? To go on a pilgrimage for a religion which she converted a mere couple of months prior - to me this seems questionable. At the end the mother needs to beg to get money once, however the author somewhat glamorises the affair by using a mysterious letter (using the teachings of the Qur'an) in order to persuade people to give her money. In my opinion this doesn't seem just to those real beggars who actually have no choice, and makes it seem like its an embarrassing yet successful method of paying off debts. I did enjoy reading and experiencing the relationship between the two younger children, as it's very relatable (being from the point of view of the younger sister) I just found this book a bit questionable, I felt you never really get a sense of how the mother feels, and she seems to change throughout the story. Initally she seemed very caring, sewing clothes for her children and trying to make a living while being there, but then she leaves her child and they frequently mention how hungry they are - but the author (and mother) don't seem to want to dwell on this point and just moves on.

  • MichelleCH
    2019-03-13 12:18

    The most loveable and intriguing part of this story was that it was told from the perspective of 5 year old Lucy. And even more so was Freud's ability to keep the magical thinking and ideas of Lucy throughout the book which left me wanting more. Lucy sees all as an adventure and makes keen observations about the adults around her including Mum. Bea who is older is more practical and longs for a more normal and less outrageous Mum.The story begins with Lucy's mother deciding to go to Morocco with her two young girls, Lucy and Bea. Although the book does not give a timeline, I assumed that it was sometime in the 60's and Mum is on a quest for her spiritual self. As the story unfolds the reader is wrapped up in their adventures as they meet an assortment of wacky characters including The Fool and the Nappy Ladies. A traveling circus performer, Bilal, becomes a makeshift father figure for the girls bringing some security to their lives. He cares for them and provides a sense of stability to their mother's otherwise sporadic adventure-seeking missions. I loved how they continuously tried to conjure up ideas to make money including having Lucy train as an acrobat. The girls are amazingly precocious and love to play tag all while screaming their favorite words "hideous" and "kinky".

  • Sherry (sethurner)
    2019-03-17 09:12

    "It wasn't until we were halfway thorough France that we noticed Maretta wasn't talking." Maretta wasn't saying much, so I suppose it was a good thing she ended up not being very important to the narrative. The narrator is the younger daughter of an English woman traveling through Morocco. There is a father, but we learn nothing of him. We never learn why the mother is dragging her two young daughters through the streets of Marrakech (and beyond), often unsure of where they will stay next or where their next meal will come from. What we do learn is what a very young girl might report of a strange and colorful foreign land, of tastes, smells, sounds, street performers, gurus, and "henna ladies" who pinch nappies to use as turbans. I understand that the author, Esther Freud, is the daughter of painter Lucien Freud, granddaughter of Sigmund Freud - but that doesn't contribute anything to this endearing little autobiographical novel. I was fascinated from the get go, and though I wondered what precipitated the trip, and what happened later, while I was reading I was simply caught up in the adventure. I also found it very helpful, once I had finished to go online to Flickr, and find photos of Morocco, since I have never traveled there, and had no mental images to attach to the narrative. Try reading with The Glass Castle.

  • Rj
    2019-02-19 17:02

    That was such a powerful statement, that last paragraph of this story. I wish the rest of the story had been as human and sensitive; or had dared to explore the relationships between the mother and her children.I don't understand how this novel became so prize worthy - is it because the author's from a famous family, or was she really young when she wrote it, or something? Yeah, it's a story and I was glad to read about life off the beaten track in Morocco in the sixties. I found the story itself just fine, it's the writing that, for me, made the book a bit of a pain to keep up with. I also feel an irritation with the author because she had here the chance to really try something with her writing: the narrator is a small girl, there could be several ways in which that is handled, write from inside a child's mind, write as an adult looking back, both opportunities were missed. Also, the prose is dead pan, about as dry and flat as an Ofsted report.I am interested by the other reviews here - several people claim the mother was travelling in order to "find herself" but I think there is nowhere near sufficient portrayal of the mother's character to draw that conclusion. I share their concern for the children but, again, there is so much that this book missed and I found that very tiresome when reading it.Probably going back to the charity shop.

  • Lauren
    2019-03-21 10:59

    I remember when this movie came out. I saw a preview for it with my mother and we both looked at each other and said we wanted to see it. Somehow that never happened.So when I discovered that this was a book on the 1001 books list I was very excited. Probably too much so. The basic premise of this book is that a woman moves to Morocco with her two daughters aged 5 and 7. The younger daughter narrates the story and the older daughter rebels, clinging onto any "English" life she can. Now being told from the point of view of a five year old made some of the events more muddled and others much clearer. She was able to make simple statements like "I'm hungry." really resonate with the reader. The descriptions of Morocco were beautiful and I really want to try some Moroccan food. (The only time I ever did was at Epcot and I was highly disappointed, I still think that meat and powdered sugar do not go well together. So maybe something different.) But my issue with the story just lay with the mother. I hated her. I understand that she wanted a spiritual journey but dragging her children along was highly irresponsible, especially considering her constant lack of funds. I just wanted to strangle her. Overall it was a meandering story that couldn't always keep my interest. It was okay but not as great as I had hoped.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-14 13:17

    I really enjoyed this book and thought Freud really skilfully captured a child's voice. Other reviewers have said the characters are 2D but you are only getting a 5 year old's perspective on them, and her view would obviously only take in parts of a person and their actions & story- all the mother's boyfriends, for example, are seen only as Lucy interacted with them and you aren't shown any of the romantic side of their relationship with Julia beyond the occasional kiss. It was especially funny how she viewed the prostitutes, thinking that they just had a lot of male friends who they talked with for a long time... This one sided view encourages the reader to think more about what is taking place, and makes the story more interesting than if it was third person or from an adult's point of view, especially as there isn't a massive amount of plot but more a series of adventures. Reminded me a bit of My Family and Other Animals, so I'd recommend it to people who've read and liked that :)

  • Shahrun
    2019-02-20 14:07

    This is the story of a mother and her two young daughters living in Morocco, told by her youngest daughter who (we find out near enough at the end of the book) is only 5! Even thought the story had an innocence and naivety, I don't think having a 5 year old narrator was the right thing here. For starters it gave her far too sophisticated voice to tell the story with and make it believable (being that she was as young as she was). It also made it hard to get a fix on exactly what was happening, where and why. So although I didn't hate the story, I was confused and it didn't sit right with me because there were too many unknown quantities (like the time period, ages of the children) for me to be able to relax into it. As to the why, it becomes apparent from the middle of the books that mummy is on a spiritual quest.Also... I'm sure I've not ever read this before and I've not see the film. But I was always lead to believe this was autobiographical. The book itself is clearly labeled as Fiction...

  • Theresa
    2019-03-20 14:04

    It was a slow start, but once I got going, I was completely in love. I have mad wanderlust and sometimes books like this are all I can do to keep myself from jumping on a plane. This one captured my imagination by giving the feeling of living in Morocco without a plan, practically penniless, and even as I was feeling sorry for the young girls, I wanted to be there with them.Thankfully, the author is able to give us this story without demonizing the mother. We come to understand her a little bit better through concrete details and the girls' reaction to her. At times, she's not a very sympathetic character. She's self-absorbed and often puts her daughters at risk. That may stop some people from enjoying the novel. My main complaint is that the narrator does not read as a 4 year old, and that's where I got hung up in the beginning. Once I gave in to the story, I was able enjoy the benefits of an adult perspective (vocabulary, clarity of thought, attention to detail), while still being relatively grounded in a child's understanding of the world.

  • Ruthmgon
    2019-03-07 11:53

    I read this book after I saw the movie, and thought they pretty much had the same feel. Anyhow, the mother is very into her plans and searches for enlightenment. It doesn't seem to bother her to be put into precarious positions in an Arabic country with her children-sort of a hands-off hippie anti-establishment upbringing. This really bothered one of my friends that watched the movie with me. But I felt that the book (and movie) really emphasized the 6 year old's point of view as she traipses along with her mum and sis in Marrakesh in the 70's. And it was this point of view that made the story delightful for me. It meanders around a bit and you play her word games and read between the lines as she describes the relationship between her mum and Bilal, and her mum and her sister. I thought it worked. A good summmer read,lying in the shade with some lemonade.

  • Doreen
    2019-03-12 13:14

    Absolutely devoured this book, and not just from either hunger for serious fiction or from the ridiculously delicious descriptions of Moroccan food (which I spent almost the entire book craving.) It's a really good book. The narrator's voice is authentic without being too precocious and cloying, and some of the truly harrowing stuff Mum puts her kids through is made even more shocking by the matter-of-fact tone in which the events are related. The only reason I didn't give it five stars instead of four is that I spent most of the book waiting for something truly devastating to happen. When it didn't, I was kinda disappointed, and I'm sure that's more a personal failing of my own than of the book's. It did end rather abruptly, though, I thought. I wonder if there was ever a sequel written.