Light of the Desert Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.
He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.
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Author: Lucette Walters
Within some Middle-Eastern societies, the punishment for bringing dishonour to one's family as a result of engaging in unacceptable behavior is “honour killing” or premeditated killings which permits men the right to kill their own daughters. It should be mentioned that these “honour killings” also take place within a wide range of communities outside of the Middle East and even in North America, England and Europe.
In Light of the Desert, Lucette Walters explores the life-altering consequences of a young woman, Noora Fendil, living in Jordan who had been a victim of an honor killing but luckily escapes certain death.
While attending a woman's college in England, Noora is framed by her sister Zaffera, who is jealous of her and in particular her engagement to the handsome architect, Michel. Zaffera concocts a devious plot whereby, unknown to her sister, inserts narcotics into several Swiss chocolates and gives them to Noora, who devours them. She also convinces her sister to wear a sexy dress and accompany her to a well-known discotheque in London later on in the evening.
The sisters are driven to the disco by their chauffeur and bodyguard, Moustafa, and within a few minutes Zaffera slips away leaving Noora alone and to fend for herself. Unfortunately, Noora has too much alcohol to drink and with the combination of the drugs she had previously consumed, makes a spectacle of herself. Two male prostitutes hired by Zaffera grope her and Moustafa, who notices what is happening, snaps provocative photographs of Noora.
Moustafa could hardly wait to pass these photos onto a fundamentalist Sheik who is the head of the movement, the “Men of Faith, Honor, and Justice (MOFHAJ).” This induces the sheik and a four of his followers to present themselves to Noora's father Farid at his home where they display the lewd photos to him. To save his family's name before his religious peers Farid brutally attacks Noora and believes he has drowned her in the family's swimming pool. Unknown to Farid, however, Noora is saved by her brother Nageeb, who is a physician.
Nageeb is at a loss as to what actually happened to Noora in the disco in London that impelled her to do whatever it was that she supposedly did to shame her family. After all, she was a responsible young lady and he could not fathom the thought that she would have acted in such a manner without someone else being involved who had been the root of her cruddy behavior.
Nageeb somehow manages to get Noora out of the swimming pool and leads her out of Jordan to a friend's place in Eilat, Israel. From this point onward the reader takes flight with Noora to Alexandria, to a Bedouin village, the French Riviera, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii while at the same she is being hunted by Moustafa who discovers that she is still alive. Along the way Noora takes on several disguises and experiences a series of tragedies wherein persons whom she loved are taken away from her, yet, with every crushing sense of loss Noora manages to find resignation and even learns to forgive.
Walters has created a larger-than-life figure whose sense of survival drives the plot and for all her bitterness, despair and loss continues to get up and continue to live another day. The story is easy to visualize with its carefully crafted articulate dialogue that reading it resembles watching a movie. I had to chuckle to myself with the sprinkling of Arabic and French expressions throughout the yarn as I am quite familiar with many of these sayings, particularly the curse words, in that French is my second language and my wife, like the author, was born in Egypt and often uses these Arabic words. In the end, we are the beneficiaries of a mesmerizing gem of a novel that entices its readers to irresistibly turn pages to discover what will be next on the horizon for Noora and the fascinating unfolding of her life as she comes in contact with several individuals.