Every Wednesday I choose a country and then choose a book that is related in some way to that country, and write a bit about it! Last week’s post focused on France, so feel free to take a look at that.
Today we’re travelling a bit further afield to… Morocco!
So I thought I would choose a book that I finished only a few days ago, ‘Hideous Kinky’ by Esther Freud. I believe this book has also been made into a film, featuring Kate Winslet, which would be interesting to watch. The book follows a mother and her two daughters on an ‘enlightening’ trip from London to Morocco, where they take part in many new experiences, and where their lives change.
The book is told through the narration of the youngest daughter, who is about four years old, and she tells of the mystic ways of the Moroccan people, as well as recounts the things that her mother gets up to in a naïve, childlike way.
I really liked the narration of this novel. I thought it was a really good idea using the narration of the child within this book, as the mother of the children has clearly dragged these children out to Morocco on her own ‘enlightenment’ experience, and through the naivety of the child’s narration the selfishness of the mother’s actions is clear.
The fact that the child also describes everything that her mother does, including many adult things, such as when she flirts with the men and has a boyfriend, means that the reader gets a full picture of the mother’s actions from a child’s point of view, and I thought this was a really interesting way of recounting the journey of the mother and daughters.
I also really liked the descriptions in this book of the exotic world of Morocco, and there were great descriptions of day-to-day life in Morocco, as well as the marketplace and all the food that the family ate, such as tagines. I realised while reading this that a tagine is both a pot to cook food in, and a kind of food!
The culture shock experienced particularly by the youngest child was also interesting, and, by using the narration of the child, all the wonders of Morocco were clear to the reader, which I loved! It was also clear, however, how easily children can adapt to a new environment, and before long the eldest sister, Bea, was speaking Arabic and going to a Moroccan school, showing the flexibility of children.
What I didn’t like about this novel was the character of the mother. I thought the mother would be a great character: she is a hippy from the 1960s who is clearly trying to escape the monotony of English society, and I imagined her to be a bit wild, but still understandable in her actions. However, I found her annoying and selfish, and clearly she did not care that much about her children.
At one point, she leaves one of her children behind while she goes on a pilgrimage to a mosque, and when they return, her daughter is no longer living where the mother had left her, showing some serious issues in the way the mother looked after her children, and the man they meet in Morocco, and who the mother becomes involved with, often takes better care of the sisters than the mother.
However, I think that Freud created the character of the mother extremely well, and the fact that all descriptions come through a child’s point of view really exaggerates the selfish attitude of the mother.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and I absolutely loved the descriptions of the exoticisms of Morocco, as well as the way that life in Morocco clearly differed to life in England. Although I wasn’t completely keen on the character of the mother, I thought the child’s narration was brilliant, and it really highlighted the naivety of the children in this situation.
I hope you enjoyed reading my second Worldwide Wednesday! Feel free to do your own post on a Wednesday from a foreign country and tag me in, so I can see what country you choose and what book you choose that was inspired by that country.
Have you read anything set in Morocco? What’s your favourite book set in a foreign country? Have you read this novel?
Happy reading x