Tag Archives: Egypt

Book Review: “Justine”

I’m a little late with this review, having spent the weekend on a little mini-vacation in Maryland. This week, we finished up our February “Month of Romance” themed reading with Lawrence Durrell’s novel Justine.

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I’m not exactly sure what to say about this novel. It was… breathtaking. Durrell’s grasp on storytelling – on his characters and on the reader – make Justine a truly beautiful story, and a pleasure to read.

Justine follows a young writer living in Alexandria, Egypt in the 1930s. Though he is poor, he catches the attention, and love, of infamous socialite, Justine. His experiences with her, her husband, and his other (former? current?) lover Melissa tell such a mesmerizing story. More than the plot line, however, it is the way the story is told that makes it so captivating.

I have never read any author quite like Durrell. His words are beyond poetic – lyric and fluid, making me feel like I was floating through this novel, rather than reading it. Durrell’s writing brings to mind the feeling of sweltering in the hazy heat of summer, really setting the scene of Alexandria. You can hear the people on the street, and feel the heat wafting in the windows, and seem to sink into the sheets of the narrator’s bed. My memory of the book is almost like that of a vacation – lazy, fuzzy around the corners, like a lucid dream where you need to remind yourself that you are reading, not reminiscing.

This is a novel that I wish I had taken more time with. Because of my goal to read a book a week, I felt like I was rushing through the story, not giving myself enough time to truly absorb all the sights, smells, sounds, and sentiments of Durrell’s Alexandria. Had I more time, I would have read only a few pages in each sitting, then given myself time to process it, to steep in the incense that is Justine. Rushing through made me unable to give this book the justice I wanted to, and left me feeling like I owed the novel more than a quick read. When the time is afforded to me, I will work my way through the rest of The Alexandria Quartet. It is hard to describe what this book is about – it’s more about experiencing the emotions and sensations that go along with with Durrell’s words.

If you’re confused by this review, and think it leaves you lacking for a description, that is probably because this book needs to be felt, rather than told. I would urge anyone with need of a vacation to simply sink into Justine, and float along on Durrell’s story. Simply put: I loved this novel, and can’t wait to escape reality with Durrell again.

Well, how about you? Did you read along? Have you read any of Durrell’s novels before? What were your thoughts (or “feelings” might be a better word)?

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Book Review: “Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul”

This week’s reading selection kept to our “Month of Holiday” theme for the month of December, but approached it in a pretty different way. The book for this week was a collection of stories addressing a more mystical side of life (and Hot Chocolate is totally appropriate for this month’s theme), and is entitled Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul by Arielle Ford.

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Okay – I’m not one for being inspired by the “inspiring” stories of others. I read ONE Chicken Soup for the Soul book, and it was not really my cup of tea. I have a hard time finding any kind of inspiration from other people’s experiences, and it leaves me rather empty. I’d rather spend my time reading some great historical fiction. This book, however, piqued my interest.

Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul includes 101 stories from people of different backgrounds, religions, races, countries, and upbringings, who have all had experiences with the otherworldly. This book included some pretty amazing stories – some unbelievable, some really heartwarming, and still some rather touching! My favorite story was one of a man who had a 4 year old girl who was interested in Egypt. He received an invitation to do a guest speech in Egypt, and was told to bring his family. He was given a business sponsor who also had a young daughter (5). When the two girls saw each other, they ran into each others’ arms, hugged, and both said, “I’m so happy to see you again.” These young girls had never met.

This story inspired some really poignant feelings in my heart and soul, because I believe in soul mates, and I don’t think they are necessarily romantic soul mates, simply people who have been in your past life, and who are now present in this life. This book was full of these kids of amazing experiences, which kept me reading into the late hours of the night.

My favorite aspect of this book was that you could never really get bored – each story was only a page long (maybe 5 tops), and every one was different! It was wonderful to hear from people from different countries who all had different belief systems, and yet they all had these otherworldly experience. For me, this shows how we are all cosmically connected, regardless of our backgrounds, distances, or beliefs!

I would recommend this book for anyone with an open mind. I will probably be passing this one on to my mom, who I know will appreciate it. It’s good for some light reading, and interesting even if you only have a few minutes at a time to read (because you can fit in one or two stories at a time). I probably won’t be picking up many more “inspiring” books, but I’m glad I read this one. That was the point of this book challenge – to expand my reading horizons!

Are you a fan of these kinds of “personal inspiring stories” books? Do you believe in otherworldly experiences? Have you ever had an otherworldly experience?

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