Sunday 1 February 2015

Sitt Marie Rose

Finished February 1
Sitt Marie Rose by Etel Adnan, translated from the French by Georgina Kleege

This novel was first published in 1978, and received the France-Pays Arabes Award. The book is split into three parts. All take place in Beirut.
The first part is told from the point of view of an unnamed female writer who has been asked by a film-maker Mounir to write the script for a film he envisions about Syrian workers in Lebanon. His view of what the film should be and her investigations into Syrian workers don't fit together well, and shortly after their discussions the civil war in Lebanon breaks out. Mounir's friends Tony and Fouad and Pierre have often gone hunting in Syria and think of themselves in a certain way as being superior to the Syrians. As the fighting escalates, Mounir and his friends support the Phalangists, the Lebanese right. The war influences the writer's views further and she finds herself unable to work with Mounir.
The second part introduces us to Sitt Marie Rose. She is a Christian Lebanese middle-class woman, who, following a divorce, finds herself drawn to helping the Palestinians. She works for a social service agency giving the refugees assistance. She also runs a school in the Christian district for deaf mute children. When, during a truce, she makes the trek from her home in the Muslim part of the city to the school, she is captured by the Phalangists, and threatened with death. We see her views as well as the thoughts of the men who have captured her, and the children of the school who watch her interrogation by the men.
The third part is the end to Sitt Marie Rose's kidnapping at the hands of men who refer to themselves as the Chabab.
This is a book that examines the interactions, the fear and distrust between the different groups of Arabs here. It brings a wider look to the situation in the Middle East, and sadly, nothing has improved since this book was written, nearly forty years ago. She also brings the role of women into the story, looking at how women view themselves and how men view them. Sadly, this has not improved either in the Middle East. This story reads as prescient now.


  1. I had luck until now. Blogspot is very difficult, unless 'robot verification' is turned off; or a different comment form is used than this tricky one. I wanted to say: "Sitt Marie Rose" would awork for colours in 2014 (I gave February 28 as the end date for our premiering year). Don't forget the same books in (A) can share with (B), because they are separate games. Tricks to finishing and earning more points for the draw on February 28! If you lost track of your extra titles, I can list them from the linky buttons for you. Something tells me my German neighbour kept records very neatly. :)

    I'll have to converse with you in our Goodreads group or at my blog after this, unless people tell me 'robot verification' is off. Here's hopin this gets through.

    1. Thanks. I thought 2014 only allowed one book per topic, so didn't include the others in my list.
      I'll use Sitt Marie Rose for the new challenge starting Feb 1 this year.