The Diaries of Emily Saidouili
by Bettye Hammer Givens
Category: Fiction / General
198 pages; ISBN: 0970819404
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
Emily Jacobs is your average, present-day Texan. Applying for a job at a Dallas hotel, she meets a dark-skinned man named ben Saidouili in front of his shop selling small treasure boxes. Two days later, she accepts his marriage proposal.
She knows absolutely nothing about Ben, including what country he is from, Morocco or Monaco. Now that Ben is back home in Morocco (he lives with his parents), he has become very religious and distant toward Emily. His father, Alhab, really doesn't like Emily, because she is not a proper Muslim woman, but Emily and Sharina, Alhab's wife, take an instant liking to each other.
Ben goes off every morning, leaving Emily by herself, and frequently doesn't come back until late at night. He tells her he is having a new house built for them in a nearby town, but refuses to tell her anything else. Emily makes a few friends on her own, including the wife of the Spanish Amabssador. One day, Emily decides to pay an unannounced visit to the family shop in the local bazaar. She finds Alhab in the back room, making love to an American woman, and talking to her like she is his wife. Emily is properly veiled, so Alhab doesn't know that it is her. She practically runs out of the shop, and back to the house.
Later, on a trip to look for this new house, about which Emily still knows nothing, Emily meets a woman named Animora, who says she is the wife of Ben Saidouili. Animora's house is also where Emily gives birth to Ben's son. After she recovers, divorce and taking her son back to Texas, is looking very tempting for Emily.
Finally, the house is finished, and Emily and Ben move in. The word "mansion" comes to mind; it's made with the best of everything. Emily's attitude toward Ben softens, and she decides to stay. Her parents show up for a surprise visit and bring along a part of Emily's past that she would rather keep hidden, and present Emily and Ben with a honeymoon in Paris.
Written in the form of diary excerpts, this is a really good story about the power of love to transcend even religious boundaries. This tale of modern culture clash is very much worth reading.