Saturday, September 4, 2010

SM5S: The Sand Fish by Maha Gargash

A fun way to add variety to review formats this meme was created by Alipet at That's A Novel Idea.

Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here has the Mr Linky each week so we can link up our posts .

1 book I read: The Sand Fish by Maha Gargash

2 words that describe the book : Arabia/Marriage

3  settings and/or characters I met:
  • The book is set in the 1950's in what is today the United Arabian Emirates.
  • Noora.........  a fiery and independent young woman is 17 as the story begins and living in a remote mountain region. Her mother is dead and her father is slowly descending into madness. Facing the responsibility for his sister's future, her brother arranges her marriage to an older man, a pearl merchant from a coastal town, who already has two wives.
  • Hamad..........a handsome young apprentice who becomes Noora's lover.
4 things I liked/disliked about the book:
  • Maha Gargash's intention in writing this book was to give an account of the traditional way of life that has now almost ceased to exist .  Before the Emirates became wealthy from the discovery of oil life was hard and the pearl trade was one of the few means for trade. Not having read much about this part of the world I looked forward to learning something of the culture. I did like the way the theme of transition and the movement towards change and a new future is constantly present.
  • There were tantalising glimpses of pearl divers , some interesting bits about embroidery but overall I was disappointed that the book focused mainly on the restrictions and difficulties of being a third wife and the central plot also revolved around the household and the desire of Noora's husband to have a child.
  • The woman characters were well developed and their individuality made for entertaining reading but for some reason the men seem to lack the same substance and seem to hover around the edges and on a couple of occasions simply disappeared.
  • I liked the writing style's very easy to read and there is some beautiful imagery of the natural environments of sea, deserts and mountains.
5 Stars or less for my rating:

I'm giving The Sand Fish 3 Stars - it's pleasant, light reading but not memorable .


  1. It sounds interesting more from the setting and cultural aspect than it does for the plot. Great review!

  2. I guess it is nice that it tried to document a way of life that is disappearing or disappeared. Too bad it wasn't more memorable or compelling though.