I’ve always been curious about Middle Eastern culture, religions, food, gender relationships, and politics, but I’m afraid too many of my perceptions have been influenced by the media. The chance to get a less biased view into the real lives and interactions between the families of these countries is what drew me to Children of Antarah by Yvette Canoura. Yvette didn’t disappoint. I’ve come away enlightened. At the same time, Yvette treated me to a touching love story, an interesting travelogue, and to my surprise, a bit of a thriller!
The female protagonist, Fatima, has a secret and a past from which she has sheltered her two children. But the past always seems to find a way to catch up with you. Fatima’s past includes her former abusive husband, Fouad. The details of the past intertwine with the beautiful love story between Fatima and Ibrahim and their relationship and travels with their children until suddenly all hell broke loose. The family and romantic love story readers have been enjoying takes a dramatic turn, complete with terror and violence, bringing a close to a story that pleases a diversity of readers on various levels. I had to ask myself after reading this novel how this award-winning author, born in the Bronx, is so familiar with the Middle-Eastern way of life. She provides the answer on her website: “Canoura’s affair with the Middle East began in 1989 when she met and married her husband. Her love for his family, culture, and people inspired her first romantic suspense novel, Mediterranean Sunset.”
That “love” mentioned in the above quote, is my biggest takeaway from Children of Antarah. It permeates the novel. Fatima’s happiness in her new life and the love she feels for her husband and family is an obvious mirror of the author’s own life. How wonderful that Yvette Canoura can so skilfully imbue her characters with this joy and love!