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Sweetness in the Belly | [Camilla Gibb]

Sweetness in the Belly

When Lilly is eight years old, her pot-smoking hippie British parents leave her at a Sufi shrine in Morocco and inform her they will be back to collect her in three days. Three weeks later, she learns they've been murdered. Lilly fills that haunted hollow in her life with intense study and memorization of the Qur'an under the patient care of the Sufi saint's disciple she was entrusted to.
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Publisher's Summary

When Lilly is eight years old, her pot-smoking hippie British parents leave her at a Sufi shrine in Morocco and inform her they will be back to collect her in three days. Three weeks later, she learns they've been murdered. Lilly fills that haunted hollow in her life with intense study and memorization of the Qur'an under the patient care of the Sufi saint's disciple she was entrusted to.

Years later, Lilly's journey from Morocco to Harar, Ethiopia, is half pilgrimage, half flight. In Harar, even her very traditional Muslim head scarves cannot hide her white skin in her new and strange surroundings; the word "farenji", foreigner, is hissed at her everywhere she turns. She eventually builds a life for herself teaching children the Qur'an, and she finds herself falling in love with an idealistic young doctor. But the two are wrenched apart when Lilly is again forced to flee, for her safety and his, this time to London. Despite her British roots, Lilly discovers she is as much an outsider in London as a Muslim as she was in Harar as a white foreigner.

Gibb's haunting narrative takes us seamlessly on a journey between these two distinct worlds: the ancient walled city of Harar and the racially charged atmosphere of 1980s London. Gibb richly evokes the stinging disconnect between Lilly's past life and her present life, between her attempts to start anew and her inability to let go of the past. Lilly's story is laced with longing and regret, but above all hope, hope that time and love can heal the rifts of her turbulent past. Camilla Gibb has pulled off an astounding feat with this stunning novel; never has the distinct and troubled history of this corner of Ethiopia been told with such humanity, warmth, clarity, and grace.

©2006 Camilla Gibb; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., All rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Sure-handed, urgent prose....the novel fluently speaks the 'languages of religion and exile'." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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3.9 (21 )
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  •  
    Ciara Sunnyside, NY, USA 03-12-07
    Ciara Sunnyside, NY, USA 03-12-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bittersweet Tale"

    It took me awhile to get into it, but eventually the story drew me in. The author does a great job of illustrating Muslim life in Ethiopia in the 1970s and how the political upheaval changed the country forever. Good history lesson for those in the western world.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    I love audiobooks KS 06-22-08 Member Since 2004

    Legalu

    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
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    2
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    "thought provoking"

    I recommend this book to people who are looking for something different. I grew up during the time-period of the story and now look at the past events in a different light. Also, the Islam described in this book is a peaceful religion. I grew tired of the lead character, but I highly enjoyed the story, writing, and reader.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Speed Demon Santa Rosa, CA USA 04-28-06
    Speed Demon Santa Rosa, CA USA 04-28-06 Member Since 2004

    Speed Demon

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    "Sweetness in the Belly"

    Excellent! Historically informative. Sad and sweet. Well written, and well read. Loved the occasional musical sound bytes.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elias Bronx, NY, United States 10-13-10
    elias Bronx, NY, United States 10-13-10 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
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    "The best novel for that part of the world"

    I listened to the audio book and loved it so much; I purchased 20 books from Amazon.com and gave it away to friends and family members. Everyone I gave the book to also loved it. How could a foreigner who lived in the country for a short period of time was able to write such a penetrating novel about the culture, religion, and all the little and minor things that define a society, is beyond me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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