Occasionally I read books about the places I want to travel to next. And no, I don’t mean a travel guide, but novels or travelogues. Sometimes I read them once I’m in the country, like all these I’ve read in the last few months.
It’s a nice way to learn about life in the country and get into the right mood beforehand. So if you’re planning to travel to Morocco in the near future, here’s a selection of books you might like to read beforehand.
Feel free to send me a message telling me how you liked the book.
Alice Morrison Adventures in Morocco
This book is very well written and definitely worth reading. It is the only book on this list that is not a novel, but autobiographical.
Alice moved to Marrakech in 2014 to take part in an ultra-race in the Sahara desert. In this book she talks about her adventures and experiences in the different parts of Morocco. From life in Marrakech and Essaouira, races in the Atlas and the Marathon des Sable to exciting encounters with the locals in the High Atlas, you always feel as if you have been there yourself.
Other books by Alice: Dodging Elephants and Walking with Nomads
James von Leyden A death in the medina
I found the book a bit sluggish and dragging at the beginning, but this may have been the author’s intention to put you in the right mood. The story takes place during Ramadan in the summer of 2011 during an unusual heat wave.
The story revolves around the death of a young Moroccan woman who is found at a mosque at the beginning of Ramadan. There are several narrative strands, told from the point of view of a local policeman, a couple of expats and a tourist, all somehow connected to the dead woman. Along the way, many different aspects of everyday life in Marrakech are highlighted.
As the story progresses, the book also picks up speed and at some point, you don’t want to put it aside anymore.
More books by James von Leyden:
Last boat from Tangier
The Saffron Gate by Linda Holeman
The Saffron Gate tells the story of Sidonie, born in Canada in the early 20th century, who travels to Morocco in 1930 to find her fiancé. There are two narrative threads, the journey to Morocco and (in fast paced retrospect) her life story, which eventually merge.
After a childhood and adolescence marked by polio, her life blossoms when she meets Etienne, a French doctor. After a brief love affair, however, he suddenly disappears off the face of the earth.
She suspects he is in Marrakech, where she finds her way via Tangier after some adversity.
I liked the book very much despite some small mistakes (e.g.: you can’t see the Southern Cross in Morocco). It is nicely written, sometimes exciting, sometimes funny. And you get a great insight into the time when the French occupied the country.
The sons of Fes by Kay Hardy Campbell
A slightly different story, in a world where djinns, ghouls and time portals exist. A group of American language students are in Fes for several weeks and during that time one of them discovers a time portal that takes you to the 14th century. Back then, Fes was visually very similar, but otherwise a completely different world.
The story talks of how the student, together with the Moroccan tour guide of the group, prevents a robbery and the overthrow of the sultan by a villain.
Even though the story is of course completely unreal, the book is still very entertaining and beautifully written. And it’s fun to imagine what life was like in Fez in the 14th century.
What lies within by Annabelle Thorpe
A story of friendship, love, deceit and betrayal. Freya and her husband move from London to Marrakech after their best friend Hamad offers them jobs there. Believing that the move will rekindle their marriage, Freya throws herself into the new life and unfamiliar culture.
But as is often the case, things turn out differently than expected. Friendships are put to the test, the marriage is going worse than before and it is questionable whether Marrakech can really be a new home.
I really enjoyed the book. It has pace, is interesting with exciting characters and many unpredictable twists in the story.
The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley
This is the story of 3 women who come together by chance.
Nell travels to Marrakech after the death of her mother to find out more about Moroccan cuisine, particularly saffron, by taking a cooking class. At the hotel she meets Amy, who is taking photos at the course for a cookbook and is also looking for photo subjects for a Morocco festival in her hometown.
The two become friends and together try to find out more about Amy’s great uncle, who disappeared years ago and whose last sign of life was a postcard from Morocco.
In parallel, the life story of Amy’s great-aunt Lillian is told, as well as that of her missing son Glenn, from his time in Morocco.
The book is beautifully written and gives a good, realistic impression of Morocco.
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