Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On my to-read list: The English Girl by Katherine Webb

I haven't read it yet, but on my to-read list is "The English Girl" by Katherine Webb. Webb writes beautifully in general, so I wonder if she captures Oman with her usual flair for descriptive language?

As Webb only visited Oman as a tourist, I wonder how accurately she describes 1950s Oman? And 1890s Oman as well, since her two female protagonists' stories overlap over these periods.

I am told the story is one of political intrigue. Since the story is set during Sultan Taimur's reign, I wonder what sort of intrigue? Like the uprising for the Imammate in the Interior?  I also wonder how accurate the stories of the protagonists travelling about in the country are. I read that the main character, an engaged female archaeologist, travels in the "disguise" of an Arab woman. I laugh a little at "disguise" but meh, I guess it depends where they are travelling to? Try pretending to be an Omani woman even in this day and age and only a few places in Oman you'll succeed well at it for long.

I love of course, anything written by Thesiger, whose work, along with Bertram Thomas' accounts, seems to have inspired Webb's fiction, so I'll have to withhold judgement and see. I don't have my copy yet but I am excited to get my hands on it, as a student who never finished her archaeology degree, who grew up an expat kid in Oman, and who finds the old guard of Oman's expats fascinating.

I've read other peoples' reviews while waiting to receive my copy, and they basically say it is a story about how a woman in a man's world can make her own rules. Especially in a country like Oman, and I have to say, that is true. The Shatti girls used to have saying, that anything is possible in Muscat,  as much as everything is impossible here too, and I've always found that to be true. For example, a side character in the book named Salim advises the protagonist that

 "We are none of us helpless unless we choose to be."

So yeah. Excited to read. Prepared to be disappointed.  Looking to be impressed however. Waiting for my copy...still.

Have you read it? And if you live in Muscat, where did you get your copy? What did you think?

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