Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The View From Garden City-Carolyn Baugh

The View From Garden City
Carolyn Baugh
Forge, Aug 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 0765316579

The American female has arrived in Cairo to study at the American University. She befriends six neighbors in Garden City. First there is her Arabic Professor Afkar who introduces the foreigner to more than just the language a she introduces her to Turkish coffee while explaining she remains a pariah who was forced into marrying an abusive husband due to a teen indiscretion. Twenty something Huda marries wealth as directed by her parents though she finds her kind spouse physically repulsive instead of wedding the impoverish man she loves. Part of her acquiescence is due to her mother Karima, a female genital mutilation victim. Huda’s permanently grieving grandmother Selwa gave birth to twelve children, but only three live. The wife of the building’s custodian Yusriyya conceals her pain as her spouse spends more time with his second fertile wife than her. Finally Widow Samira loves her best friend's husband as she always has even when her husband was alive.

This is a superb look at the life of women in Cairo as different generations of females share their loves and hates of their restrictive world with the visiting American student. The story line is more a character study series of vignettes than a novel, but is deep as the audience learns what demons haunt and restrain each of the six Egyptian women. Although the prose can get too flowery descriptive at times, fans will enjoy Carol Baugh’s strong tour as the sextet provide the student and the readers with a fabulous THE VIEW FROM GARDEN CITY.

Harriet Klausner

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