This engaging memoir is the second in the author’s series depicting the life she and her family encountered while on various overseas teaching assignments. In this one, as indicated in the title, they are in Egypt. Though Cairo was their centre, they did travel far and wide within the country.
Jill Dobbe has written with honesty as well as humour. The latter helps lift some of the more somber, darker, observations and experiences. What is particularly good is how, in the sharing of a variety of their own encounters, the author also provides insights into, and details of, the culture and attitudes of the indigenous population. Much is very different to anything they have encountered before. During their stay in the country they face many challenges, difficulties and adventures, both in the work environment and when on sightseeing trips. Some are the consequence of social differences while others are simply due to the situations they find themselves in. All the family are to be commended for the way in which they deal with the various circumstances, especially the negative ones. In general they tend to adopt a positive outlook but also, sensibly, accept they are in a different culture and understand, even though it may go against their sensitivities, what they observe is the way of the people.
The insights shared in this book cover daily life, the education system and the general nature of the country as a whole. Within these the prevalent attitudes of both adult and youth are incorporated which, to western minds, may often be a little shocking. In some instances the total disregard for life, especially when it comes to the poor, is hard to comprehend. But then, alongside that are some questionable allowances when it comes to the children of wealthy families. Throughout the reader is exposed to the awful poverty some find themselves in as well as the luxury of the wealthy.
Though, as indicated, there are some shocking insights it needs to be pointed out this is NOT A HEAVY READ. It is in fact an easy, light, though serious, read. The author’s sense of humour is always present and in truth some of their escapades are amusing.
Anyone who is thinking of going to Egypt, and has not been before, would do well to read this book beforehand. It truly provides very useful insights into the culture and people.
Four stars (4*).
The book is available in paperback and digital (e-book) formats.
The author’s first and third memoirs have been previously read.
Click on the relevant book cover image below to access each review.
Jill Dobbe has also participated in an author interview. Click on the image to the left to access it.