Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday favourite: The Caliph's House

When you’re lying on a beach chair, suncream in reach and cocktail in hand, you want a book you can’t put down. When you’re on an intrepid journey, navigating potholes on dusty roads, riding camels, and walking in the mountains, you’re unlikely to get much reading done. So what do you do if one of your holiday reads is too good to leave in the backpack? You take it with you of course – in the car, on the camel, up the mountain....

With this Friday favourite I’m returning to my beloved Morocco. I’ve mentioned before how I love to read a book set in the country in which I’m visiting – that’s how I came to have The Caliph’s House.

It’s the story of Tahir Shah, who having spent time in Morocco as a child, now as a father and husband moves his family to the city of Casablanca. Purchasing a house, employing staff, and integrating himself and his family into the Moroccan way of life isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do – but in this instance, there are certain unexpected incidents that come Shah’s way, not least of all the jinns (spirits).

Shah has written his story in such a way, that you feel as if you’re experiencing it all with him. It’s by no means a blow-by-blow account of how he came to set up his new life, but instead a story that is captivating, enjoyable, at times laugh out loud, and with the most wicked of all twists on the very last page.

In fact, Amazon’s product review has hit the nail on the head to describe this book:  
“...a gloriously vivid, funny, affectionate and compelling account of how [Shah] and his family - aided, abetted and so often hindered by a wonderful cast of larger-than-life local characters: guardians, gardeners, builders, artisans, bureaucrats and police (not forgetting the jinns, the spirits that haunt the house) - returned the Caliph's House to its former glory and learned to make this most exotic and alluring of countries their home.

Needless to say, despite carrying this book around wherever I went, it didn’t take long to finish. Nor did it take husband, brother and fellow travel companions much time to finish either. In the end, one final traveller departed Morocco with The Caliph’s House in his own backpack – which meant I had to return to the bookshop for another copy to go on my shelf!


  1. This is such a cool cover, how could you not want to pick up this book? I love that it was good you had to take it with you and have everyone else around you read it too! That definitely means it's worth a read!

  2. I want to run to the bookstore and buy a copy right now after reading your post!

    I have added this book to my TBR list.

  3. Added to my wishlist after reading this review! I've got to find a copy!!

  4. Oh yes! I remember this one that you led me to.