Last night I stayed up too late to finish Camilla Gibb's Sweetness in the Belly.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Lilly, an English girl whose
hippy parents led a nomadic life, moving from country to country in
Europe, and then to Tangiers (Morocco). When the eight-year-old Lily
wants to spend the day studying with a muslim teacher/philosopher, she
never sees her parents again - for they are killed in a car accident.
Lily has always longed for stability and embraces her new islamic life.
She makes a piligramage to Harar (Ethiopia). Most of the book is
divided between her life in Ethiopia in the early 1970s (in the years
leading up to the revolution) and her life in London in the 1980s,
working as a nurse and working in a 2-woman volunteer organization to
help reunite Ethiopian refugees.
This book was wonderful. The language is poetic. Camilla Gibb is an
anthropologist who did professional research in Ethiopia. The character
Lily, who is both absorbed into the world and always to some degree an
outsider is the perfect narrator to introduce us to that world.
The love stories are very sweet. Although the eventual outcomes was
somewhat predictable, the details and reactions of the people involved
was charming and felt plausible.
Originally posted on mmarques.vox.com