Gilded Serpent: Love and Romance, Egyptian Style

Date posted: January 8, 2009


Book Review of The Poison Tree
planted and grown in Egypt by Marwa Rakha
Review by Bonita Oteri

 

This book is a poignant portrait written by a young Egyptian woman blessed or burdened, depending on one's perspective, with excessive moral courage and brutal honesty.

Her microscopic scrutiny of the Egyptian dating and marriage scene as she views it spares no one, least of all herself.  This book takes us into an incisive, heart-wrenching examination of the tight rope Egyptian women must daintily and carefully tread if they wish to "win" a husband. In her circumstances she knows the games that must be played to "win" at this artful game ; yet they eat at her soul.  Marwa has a burning passion that can't be tempered and she is compelled to speak out on the limitations she feels her society has imposed on women.

At times the book is a savvy "Sex and the City" type column writing that addresses different hot topics.  These include the avid interest that her fellow countrymen and women have with their fascination of the Arab world watching Egyptian serial soap operas. The author, Marwa Rakha addresses fascinating insights for Westerners into the Egyptian psyche on dating/marriage issues; ranging from the basic man and woman on the street opinions, to societal class distinctions and snobbery.  This includes the taboo topics of prostitution and the complex survival decisions some women, sadly, must make.   

Bravely baring her soul and laying her innermost fears on the altar of Truth as she sees it, the author gives us a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Love and Romance, Egyptian Style.

Beneath the biting words, there is always a sense of humor and a fond affection and deep love that binds her to her family, even though they must surely despair of this outspoken daughter and her future happiness.  It was beautiful how she wrote regarding her father's driving her around all night when she could not sleep, plagued by inner demons.

For my part, I saw many parallels for American, Western women and the age old "war between the sexes" in this string of tales carefully beaded together. She also includes a some what tongue-in-cheek, special "Warning! Danger!" for Western women on the charm and allure of the charismatic Egyptian man when he is focused on winning a wife. Perhaps the religion, the language, the country, the cultures are different; yet there are always Women's Issues which transcend international borders and tie us together. Not all, but most women want a happy family and a good husband, while simultaneously facing similar challenges in other countries as well, in meeting that goal.  No matter what corner of the globe we live in, the smarter and more out-spoken the woman in question, the more difficult that goal can be to achieve.

This book offers a profound insight in an unusual, blog format for anyone wanting to learn about the Egyptian society dating scene from a different dimensional perspective. It's one of those rare works that can make you laugh and cry simultaneously.

Marwa, my wish and prayer for you is that God may send you the strong, secure man who will not be intimidated by the deep, burning and beautiful soul that you are.

 
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