Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher
I must begin by acknowledging, once again, my penchant for Egypt. I’m interested in all things Egypt and am just fascinated by the people & culture. The Automobile Club of Egypt began with a very curious event followed by a really engaging middle and a non-ending.
Before chapter one began, the readers become witnesses to fictional characters coming to life. From chapter one onwards, we traced the origin of ‘automobile’, the Automobile Club in Egypt, and started following the lives of the Gaafar family.
The first few chapters were interspersed with passages on the invention of automobile by Karl Benz. I found these to be quite charming and was disappointed that there wasn’t more. I wonder at how accurate they are historically but Bertha & Karl Benz were very interesting that I’m going to be looking up his biography.
There are many perspectives in this novel –mostly of the Gaafar children especially Kamel and Saleha. From these two, we see the struggle of Egyptians in a world determined to keep them as they were (servants ever after, never master). However, as intelligent beings coming to understand their own worth, each sought for their own place in the world but not as prescribed to them.
I am finding it hard to describe exactly what it is that drew me to the Gaafar family, each of the four children are so different in intellect and temperament that each perspective was unique. I can’t help but to sniff and roll my eyes at the eldest, Said, for all his posturing. And Mahmud’s perspectives amusing, despite all his shortcomings.
The book didn’t feel like it ended for me… It felt like there should be more… There wasn’t a feeling of completion like the circle is still left open. I don’t know if it’s mean to be a series of some sort though there hasn’t been any mention of it online. I just feel that I need that extra chapter to relate to the very beginning of the novel for that all-rounded kind of feeling.
The Automobile Club of Egypt is a fascinating tale with brilliant characters and excellent plot. It is a novel that captivates the reader despite only reading on the daily lives of Egyptians. It’s a fairly sizeable book but I didn’t have one jot of wandering mind as I was fully immersed in the story and very involved (vicariously) in these characters’ lives.
Thanks to Penguin Australia for paperback copy in exchange of honest review