The Map of Love offers the reader a unique perspective seldom available to Westerners, as a granddaughter researches the transcendent history of two unlikely lovers, her grandmother and grandfather, contrasted with her own current romance. Feet firmly planted in the Egypt of today,
author Ahdaf Soueif paints the background in sun-drenched colors and the deep black velvet of a star-scattered sky, hinting at the stark beauty of the mysterious past.
The granddaughter's present-day love story pales in comparison to the seduction of her grandmother's history. Speaking through the pages of her faded journal, the extraordinary Anna follows the dictates of her heart, refusing the strictures of convention to marry the love of her life. Anna's easy capacity for compassion is stunning, its very simplicity impressive.
Against this dramatic background, Soueif delivers a much-needed history lesson. Rather than widening the chasm, this writer extends to her readers increased cultural awareness and appreciation. A society that appears rigid and formalized is, instead, a way of life defined by love of country and passionate ties to family.
There is beauty and grace in this novel: a love that thrives in spite of cultural differences and refuses to draw boundaries around the human heart. The doors of perception are thrown wide open by this talented author, providing entrée into another land, another time, another place.