Raw, brutal, shocking. Warm, compassionate, tender. All these things and more. Rarely have I gone through so many different emotions reading one book. This is a very long and incredibly detailed story with a huge cast, yet I was never confused or wondering who each character was - nor was I bored, or bogged down with too much information. Instead the author weaves a rich tapestry, pulling threads from a middle-eastern culture that at times seems archaic and extreme to 20th century Oxford University and back again, showing you layer upon layer of depth as slum boy Shuki realises his good looks can be both blessing and curse.
What is fascinating is how the author writes with such authority about another culture. Whether this is pure research or she has lived this life, I don't know - but it sounds so authentic and believable. While the brutalities of Shuki's masters are shocking, there are moments of real tenderness and love, and the family bond is strong and close. They share everything - including Shuki. And how far can you go, before love and sex become inextricably entwined?
There's a lot of sex in this book. And not all of it is good sex, so don't read this if you are easily offended by graphic descriptions of such things. But I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the different standards by which other cultures live - even today. Shuki's story could well be real.show more
by D Bennett