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Summary from publisher:
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.
This is the first non-romance or YA book that I’ve read in a couple of weeks. It was so refreshing. Sometimes your “fun” reads become sorta not so fun anymore when you inundate yourself with them. This one was quite the nice break.
In college, I took a class in Iraqi history. My memory of the class is vague but I remember my interest level being very high. It was much the same with this book. I was completely fascinated by this book and Tamara’s family history. I absolutely loved how personal family history was tied into Iraqi history. It gives you a point of view on history events that a history book simply cannot.
I read this book in a couple of hours while waiting for a dentist appointment. That’s how good it was. It distracted me from my abject fear of the dentist. I have always had an interest in Iraq and its history but seeing it through the eyes of a family and their story was great. I did have trouble with the language at certain points. It became sort of disjointed. As if Chalabi was trying to piece together different bits of family history into something coherent. I know how difficult that can be—my own family history is a mess of bits and pieces of lore that very few can make sense out of. But I think, for the most part, Chalabi does an amazing job at it.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.