"All men dream, but not equally," wrote Lawrence of Arabia. "Those who dream at night awaken to find it vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men..." Reeling from the twin tragedies of the Great War and the influenza epidemic, diffident, 40-year-old teacher, Agnes Shanklin has come into a modest inheritance; enough to allow her to take ...Read More"All men dream, but not equally," wrote Lawrence of Arabia. "Those who dream at night awaken to find it vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men..." Reeling from the twin tragedies of the Great War and the influenza epidemic, diffident, 40-year-old teacher, Agnes Shanklin has come into a modest inheritance; enough to allow her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt and the Holy Land. But her arrival in Cairo coincides with an event that will change history. For it is 1921, and the Cairo Peace Conference will preside over nothing less than the creation of the modern Middle East. Neither a pawn nor a participant, Agnes becomes a welcome sounding board for the historic players - including Churchill, T. E. Lawrence and Lady Gertrude Bell - poised to invent the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and so decide the fate of the Arab world. It also makes her unexpectedly attractive to the charismatic German spy, Karl Weilbacher.As Agnes observes the tumult and tensions of nation-building, she is drawn more and more deeply into geopolitical intrigue and towards a personal awakening. Both enlightening and entertaining, this compelling, passionately felt novel illuminates both the rich history of the Middle East and what lies behind today's headlines.Read Less
excellent condition very pleased with the quality,a
really good read, would certainly purchase again
from this seller,and will recommend to my family
Jun 4, 2009
Fun ,insightful historical fiction
I liked this book very much. My first thought after completing it was..too short. I now think that the brieity of it, was part of it's charm. Some of life's" turning points" are short encounters that we "brush by" or "run into". It also has the charm of the story behind "the story". A great summer read !!!
Jan 1, 2009
Disappointing...but still a fan
I absolutely loved "The Sparrow" and "Children of God" and I'm not a fan of sci-fi. Russell has such a wonderful ability to weave history, philosophy, and politics into her stories making them "genre-free". Unfortunately, in this novel it was too much of a good thing. I felt like I had eaten a whole bag Hershey kisses and just wanted to give them all back. I love history and historical fiction but for me, Russell drenched her novel with so many facts and political diatribes that I lost the story of the main character and what I was looking to read was a fictional story not a political/history lesson with an afterthought of "Oh yeah, I'd better add a little story here to make it fiction". Her research was superb however, and I always find TE Lawrence to be a fascinating character but for the most part I found myself looking forward to reading the passages regarding the main character's dog, Rosie. I still haven't read "A Thread of Grace" but a friend assures me it is very good. So please, don't let my review of this book disuade you of reading her other novels--they are well worth the time.
Aug 14, 2008
As the saying goes, "She had me at 'hello' ". Mary Doria Russell's novel of the life of an oldest daughter as she changes from a precocious , ordinary-looking child to a world traveler who becomes part of history is an absorbing, entertaining one. Her descriptions of surroundings, people and places are so real I felt I was there. Russell uses actual historical figures as part of the story and as acquaintances of Agnes Shanklin. If I had stopped at p.234, I would have enjoyed the book more. The final descriptions of her demise and experiences after death didn't add to my pleasure. But this minor criticism shouldn't detract from the overall review. Russell is a talented writer. I can hardly wait to read her three previous books: The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace.
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