Before I travel anywhere, I always drop Tina at TripFiction a line for book recommendations related to my destination. And, she’s never let me down yet.
So, when I booked up for a honeymoon in Morocco (Marrakech to be specific), I promptly asked Tina for the best books to read on my travels.
Here’s what she told me:
Morocco is a country that has drawn visitors for centuries. The hospitable way of life, the climate and the customs all combine to make any visit memorable and magical. It is a country where the terrain is as varied and colourful as the culture. From the red desert populated by small villages to the grand Atlas mountains, across to bustling Marrakech, Fez, Essaouira, Casablanca and more, this is a country that has long been a favourite amongst travellers.
TripFiction has pulled together five top reads that will transport you and enable you to delve under the skin of this beautiful place.
The Heat of Betrayal by Douglas Kennedy
In the heady strangeness of Morocco, he is everything she wants him to be – passionate, talented, knowledgeable. She is convinced that it is here she will finally become pregnant.
But when Paul suddenly disappears, and Robin finds herself the prime suspect in the police inquiry, everything changes.
As her understanding of the truth starts to unravel, Robin lurches from the crumbling art deco of Casablanca to the daunting Sahara, caught in an increasingly terrifying spiral from which there is no easy escape.
The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne
David and Jo Henniger, a doctor and children’s book author, in search of an escape from their less than happy lives in London, accept the invitation of their old friends Richard and Dally to attend their annual bacchanal at their home deep in the Moroccan desert – a ksar they have acquired and renovated into a luxurious retreat. On the way, the Hennigers stop for lunch, and the bad-tempered David can’t resist consuming most of a bottle of wine. Back on the road, suddenly, two young men spring from the roadside, apparently attempting to interest passing drivers in the fossils they have for sale. Panicked, David swerves toward the two, leaving one dead on the road and the other running into the hills.
At the ksar, the festivities have begun. As the night progresses and the debauchery escalates, the Moroccans increasingly view the revellers as the godless “infidels” they are. When David and Jo show up late with the dead body of the young man in their car, word spreads among the locals that David has committed an unforgivable act.
Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
An absolute classic, later made into a film starring Kate Winslet. Two little girls are taken by their mother to Morocco on a 1960s pilgrimage of self-discovery. For Mum, it is not just an escape from the grinding conventions of English life but a quest for personal fulfilment: her children, however, seek something more solid and stable amidst the shifting desert sands.
Marrakech Express by Peter Millar
The author was inspired to visit Morocco – and specifically Marrakech – because of the earworm song Marrakesh Express recorded by Crosby, Stills and Nash in 1969. It is hard to think of the city without the strains of their ‘foot-tapping anthem’ buzzing around one’s consciousness.
He takes up the invitation to visit a family in the provincial town of Larache at the time of eid al-Adha (eid al-fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the former occurs 40 days later). And from here he sets off on his journey across Morocco describing his travels.
The Seamstress by Maria Duenas
Young, poor Sira Quiroga is swept up in a whirlwind romance with her wily love Ramiro. Fleeing Madrid together for Morocco, her love blinds her to his real failings. Soon abandoned, left penniless and in debt to the authorities, she has to rely on the one skill she still possesses: sewing.
Taken under the wing of the bullish but caring housekeeper Candelaria, Sira is able to sew for the glamorous foreign English and German women in Tetouan. Privy to their unbridled gossip, Sira becomes invaluable to the British secret service, a position that is filled with untold risk.
Wow, what a selection. Thank you Tina!