Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Late For Tea at the Deer Palace by Tamara Chalabi

"The Lost Dreams of my Iraqi Family"
Review by The Mole

... is described as "The story of Iraq, told from an Iraqi woman's perspective" which is not truly the case. Tamara Chalabi was born in Lebanon into a family in exile from Iraq after the 1958 revolution. But this family was no ordinary family having been a very influential family in Iraq - and Mesopotamia before - for many years and in fact the story starts the history of the family in 1833 with the birth of Ali Chalabi - although the narrative itself starts in 1913.

Because they were one of the most powerful, respected, influential families much of their history intertwines with the history of Iraq, even when in exile.

Tamara has a PhD in history and tells their story quite impartially and in trying to explain the 1958 revolution I actually could see some justification for the revolution - such is her impartiality. The story follows family members from each generation and reflects on their successes, their failings as well as their misfortunes. If the real lives of some of the family were written into novels then the reader would scoff - but these are real events in history and sometimes life IS stranger than fiction. More than just a history of Iraq and her family she also tries to explain the difference between between the various forms of Islam and the plight of such groups as the Kurds through the involvement of her family with these groups.

I found it most fascinating and laden with information. I was amazed with how much Iraqi - and sometimes world - history I gleaned from the reading. Well worth a read for so many reasons, not least of all is because it was 'enjoyable'. Not quite the right word but it's the closest I can come to a word and I came away feeling a lot more informed on the history of Iraq as well as customs surrounding the Islamic faith and just a little of the religion as well.

Publisher - Harper Press
Genre -
history, non-fiction, Tamara Chalabi

Buy Late for Tea at the Deer Palace: The Lost Dreams of My Iraqi Family from Amazon

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