The Dark Side of Love

The Dark Side of Love - Rafik Schami, Anthea Bell This was absolutely fascinating. The title does it no favours at all though; this is far more than an exploration of love (although it certainly covers it in all it's permutations, not just the dark), it is an epic social history of Syria over the last hundred-odd years. More specifically it is about the problems caused by the clan mentality, as well as the religious and political upheavals which influence the freedom of its citizens to do and love as they like. The murder aspect of it is really only there to set up the sprawling story, and to give it a nice neat conclusion. I loved the fact that every character, major or minor, felt absolutely real, and despite the sheer number of them it wasn't difficul to remember who was related to who, as is sometimes the case in these things. Don't be put off by the house-brick dimensions of the book - this is an absolute treat.