First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.

In 1900 Lady Anna Winterbourne travels to Egypt where she falls in love with Sharif, an Egyptian Nationalist utterly committed to his country’s cause.

A hundred years later, Isabel Parkman, an American divorcee and a descendant of Anna and Sharif, goes to Egypt, taking with her an old family trunk, inside which are found notebooks and journals which reveal Anna and Sharif’s secret.

First of all, I want to greet every one, especially my Chinese friends, Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! Happy year of the metal ox! I hope that this coming year ushers in great health, plenty of wealth, and, of course, endless happiness.

As it is Friday, it is also time for another First Impression Friday update. I am currently in the midst of another Man Booker Prize reading binge. I have been picking books from the shortlists and the winners of the prestigious literary prize and I have picked the 1999 Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel, The Map of Love written by Egyptian born novelist, Ahdaf Soueif. The Map of Love is a random purchase I made last February 2019, not realizing that it is a literary gem. The reference to love in the book title made me deem it a suitable book in keeping with the spirit of the upcoming Valentine season.

And I wasn’t wrong. The novel is actually about a love story. The story follows two timelines – 1997 and the early 1900s. In the current period (1997), Isabel Parkman was trying to unravel the love story of her ascendants, Lady Anna Winterbourne and Sharif. She was carrying with her an old family trunk which contained notebooks and journals. It was through these journals that Anna and Sharif’s story was related. The novel’s epistolary form stopped me at first for it was mixed in with commentaries in the contemporary. nevertheless, it seems to make up for an interesting reading journey.

I have just started the book and I am just unraveling the earlier parts of Anna’s life. She was once married to Edward but her husband died and she blamed herself for it. I haven’t gotten to the part of her love story with Sharif but I am looking forward to how it will unfold. Each chapter is accented with random quotes about Egypt; there was even one quoted from Napoleon Bonaparte.

Reading the uncharacteristically brief synopsis, and from my previous experience with Egyptian novels such as Naguib Mahfouz’s Miramar and Alaa Al Aswany’s The Automobile Club of Egypt, I can already surmise that the novel has political references. I really don’t mind it that much for it also gives me insight into the country’s colorful but turbulent history. I still have a long way to go into the story but I am really hopeful as my last few reads were pedestrian (and confusing) at best.

The novel is quite lengthy so I don’t think I’ll finish it over the weekend but I will try to cover as much ground as I can. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!