Book Review- A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.

–Author Unknown


I’ve been running a travel themed book club in San Francisco for the past three years so people often ask me for recommendations in the genre. While I have a post that lists all of the books featured in the book club, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites on my blog. If you have any questions about the book club, feel free to message me.

A House in Fez:Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco by Suzanna Clarke was published in 2007 and is 263 pages long. I admit, books are my religion and the library is my church. The first section I go to in any book store or library is the travel section. Although I have over 250 books in my tiny San Francisco apartment, some begging to be read, I still skip on over to my local library and check out books by the dozen. I’m not sure what the limit is in other areas but in San Francisco, you are allowed to check out 50 items at a time. Yes 50!! Oh the possibilities. I get a little rush when I’ve been notified that one of my book requests is on hold for me at the Chinatown branch. I also can’t just walk by a bag of free books plunked on a lonely corner, calling my name, waiting to be fondled. Hmmm, maybe I do have a problem….

But I digress. This post is about one book. I am particularly drawn to stories told by travelers, especially females, who have put down roots in countries they have fallen in love with. Have you ever visited a place and had the fleeting fantasy of staying for a while? Maybe buying a house or a plot of land and making it a permanent getaway?

This book gives us a glimpse into the process that Suzanna and her husband went through while building their dream house in Fez, Morocco. In the same theme as the wildly popular tale told by Frances Mayes when she purchased an Italian villa in Under the Tuscan Sun, Suzanna and Sandy take us along as they find the right riad–the name for a traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard–assemble a team of workers and figure out how to get supplies without getting ripped off every step of the way.  They hit plenty of road blocks, language barriers and painfully costly delays. As they make progress, they also enlist the help of neighbors and their lives slowly weave into the fabric of the community. She shares her frustrations and triumphs with honesty and humor. Slow in some spots but easy to read.

If you like this theme you can also check out A House in Corfu by Emma Tennant and the wonderful anthology A House Somewhere-Tales of Life Abroad with stories about the meaning of home to nomads and well traveled souls such as Pico Iyer, Peter Mayle, Jan Morris and Frances Mayes.

Happy reading and thanks for checking out my blog.



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