Literature and Adoration

 Palace Walk

 House-work or Hedonism

It would be a little remiss of me, not to mention my 'blog-namesake' & powerful-shaper of Rani dreams......the famous novel, 'PALACE WALK' by Egyptian writer and Nobel laureate, Naguib Mahfouz. While many a review has been written before & no doubt many yet to come, I am keen to share some of my own observations (if only to revisit my 'former self' at a time of great personal discovery)

I happily chanced upon & read this first in a trilogy of novels, when I visited Cairo many many crescent-moons ago. (A singularly impressionable Rani with a thirst for 'days of old'.....what better city to find oneself in!) That which captivated me most about the book (as with the city itself) was the striking duality of its characters, especially our protagonist
Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad...whose actions, internal life & dialogue reveal a man at once ultra-conservative & tyrannical with his family, all the while being footloose & fancy-free with the harem girls. Oh the hypocrisy! Set against the backdrop of enormous social & political change in the era of British occupation - Mr al-Jawad's fraught familial antics are juxtaposed with the restlessness of a modernising country. It is a beautiful construct & definitely one worth getting lost in......if flawed characters & strong narrative are your thing.

Take.......the People's Walk
Khan-el-Khalili Cairo C.1920

While it may not be a book for everyone, given no distinct plot & indeed takes a few pages, if not chapters to really get into...though it's characters may offend, frustrate, even prompt you to hurl your book across the is less a novel about the way things 'should be', but rather, the way things 'were' in a time of great ideals, but very divergent presents its families stories & subjects categorically, matter-a-factly, some might even say mundanely & invites us to take the 'Palace-Walk' - a beautiful street within Cairo (in Arabic the title translates as 'between two palaces')....asks us to consider the divide between the old & new worlds, make our own peace with the city & it's conflicted inhabitants.

Take........the Regal Walk
Heliopolis Palace, North East Cairo

For me, the novel is, & always will be, an introduction to modern Cairo, a commitment to understanding a place & its people, persevering, finding beauty within the social muck & despite resistance to things.......& ultimately continuing that 'Palace Walk' in discovery of self......(I mean isn't that what life, learning & travel is really all about?)

*1st image from my personal copy of 'Palace Walk'
Other photos, courtesy of 'Vintage Egypt' by Alain Blottiere (Personal Copy)
#All writing & photography by Rani.C (Char)

Wicked Women Of  The Raj

    I don't mind your other wives
as long as I get diamonds for breakfast!

If like me, you hunger for tantalising, escapist, saucy, page-flipping nostalgia - then nothing quite compares to Coralie Younger's 'WICKED WOMAN OF THE RAJ' (from which the above image comes) True tales of passion, intrigue & intermarriage between ordinary, foreign women and married, sinfully wealthy, Indian Princes & Maharajas - during the days of the British Raj......NAUGHTY! While the "wicked" bit is disputable & could equally & aptly be used to describe those ineffable Royals - the scandalous nature & outrageous shenanigans from both camps, will not only delight, entertain & appall you in equal measure (for hours), but make you feel like you've spent the majority of your years living in a hermetically sealed cave......with monks!! Or for some, perhaps, a feeling of contentment, for having lived a quiet, honourable life. LOVE IT.

So, a bit keen?......Strap yourself in, slap on a face mask, place tiara firmly on head (You'll still look good) & make this your little summer,winter, spring or autumn 'Paramour' - Your significant other, I'm sure, won't mind!!!!!!

Wipe that smile off your  
face dear!!
*My own copy of 'Wicked women of the Raj'
#All writing by Rani.C (Char)


  1. Loving this post Rani - you have a magiacl way with words that conjure up the exotic - perfect for brighteneing up a Monday morning!

  2. Thanks a million dear Linda.....So nice of you to take a read. (I'm imagining from your glorious balcony!)
    Sometimes all's we have are our memories & imaginations to get us through those Monday mornings!
    Glad to be a small part of yours
    Much Love & many thanx again
    Rani Xx

  3. Loving this too and agree your writing is magical and interesting Rani. - Margrite


#Thanks for bringing some extra sparkle & cheer to the Palace today. I'm delighted to read your comments (& Shimmying too!!!)