Sunday, October 23, 2011

Late For Tea At The Deer Palace by Tamara Chalabi

Synopsis from

A lyrical, haunting, multi-generational memoir of one family’s tempestuous century in Iraq from 1900 to the present.

The Chalabis are one of the oldest and most prominent families in Iraq. For centuries they have occupied positions of honour and responsibility, loyally serving first the Ottoman Empire and, later, the national government.

In ‘Late for Tea at the Deer Palace’, Tamara Chalabi explores the dramatic story of her extraordinary family’s history in this beautiful, passionate and troubled land. From the grand opulence of her great-grandfather’s house and the birth of the modern state, through to the elegant Iraq of her grandmother Bibi, who lived the life of a queen in Baghdad, and finally to her own story, that of the ex-pat daughter of a family in exile, Chalabi takes us on an unforgettable and eye-opening journey.

This is the story of a lost homeland, whose turbulent transformations over the twentieth century left gaping wounds at the hearts not only of the family it exiled, but also of the elegant, sophisticated world it once represented. When Tamara visited her once-beautiful ancestral land for the first time in 2003, she found a country she didn’t recognize – and a nation on the brink of a terrifying and uncertain new beginning.

Lyrical and unique, this exquisite multi-generational memoir brings together east and west, the poetic and the political as it brings to life a land of beauty and grace that has been all but lost behind recent headlines

My Comments :

At the beginning it was hard for me to start reading this book. However, once I got the hang of it; it was good.

I like the way it was presented with photographs peppered at the relevant section of the book.A photo worth a thousand words? 

Not much problem for me to follow in on what described there. Their culture and customs. I can imagine Bibi's worries about her marriage and the ability of giving birth to a male heir.

However, there are parts where I find the book was a bit slow and dragging. Too lenghty description of the politics and stuffs like that. If only the book could be edited down by 100 pages or so, it would be an enjoyable read. Guess, can't do so coz this is history of the family. The flow would not be there if some of the events was edited out.

I feel sorry for Bibi for it took a long time before she could "get back" to her homeland.

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