The Lioness of Morocco— review

The Lioness of Morocco is quite a saga. I mean that in a positive way, but some readers may not be ready for a yarn that covers this many years. I, on the other hand, relished it, like a home cooked meal after a long stint of eating fast food.

This story reminds me of the “mini-series” that were once a staple of television networks: a multi-part yarn that covers much of the adult life of an interesting main character, often with a lengthy list of co-stars. Such sagas usually combined romance, suspense, and mystery, and The Lioness of Morocco does that fairly well. The protagonist, Sibylla Spencer, is a good (if not fabulous) character, sufficiently well developed that readers should want to follow along with her travels and travails. Although the story begins in England, before long her adventuresome nature, combined with her father’s shipping business, leads her and her new husband to Mogador, Morocco, where she grows into an even more bold woman, sometimes called “The Lioness” in part due to her mane of golden hair.

< a few spoilers follow>

As an Englishwoman, Sibylla could either cling to all things British, from her clothing and her companions, to her language. Or, she could learn more about the Moorish population, learn their language, and (perhaps) do a bit of business with them. She follows the second course of action, which does cause her more straight-laced neighbors to be a bit put out with her. However, she is well-mannered and well-bred and manages to keep both sides of her world reasonably happy with her most of the time.

The novel is set in a tumultuous time, so there are plenty of plot twists, but the reader is never rushed, as this story happens over a number of years. Much of the Moroccan culture is revealed via detailed descriptions, which I genuinely enjoyed. Several crises occur, from the time her husband is accused of trafficking slaves to being the family being involved in trade wars and political wars. However, Sibylla and her children seem to rise to the occasion, whatever comes their way.

I did find this to be a very satisfying novel, rich in history and culture, if not a compelling read. For anyone who hasn’t enjoyed a saga recently, I suggest this novel. It is available as a paperback and in eBook form.

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The Missing— a brief film review

Film, The MissingWhen I was growing up, I loved westerns. There was much to like about them: horses, good guys in white hats, horses, bad guys in black hats, horses, guns, horses, beautiful settings, more horses…. you get the picture, I am sure. My early favorites were “Fury” which was a show about a horse, “My Friend Flicka” which was about a horse, and the Roy Rogers show, which was mostly about the horse named Trigger. At least, that is how I remember it.

Then, I grew up and westerns were not in favor in Hollywood anymore. My early love of science fiction is all intertwined with my love of westerns. Once, I was amazed by a very intelligent woman who said she despised Star Wars. I laughed, and said, “It’s just a western!” As she gaped at me, I went on to explain that Star Wars owes much to westerns, from the bar scene (just a saloon) the greenhorn (Luke Skywalker) being guided by an older and wiser mentor, the gunslinger (Han Solo) and the Millennium Falcon, which doesn’t have much on a good horse.

Westerns have never been as popular as they were in my youth, but they have grown up. Recently, hubby and I were looking for something on Netflix that we hadn’t seen, and “The Missing” with Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett caught my eye. The description reminded me of an oldie but goodie, “The Searchers,” so we we popped some corn and got involved in Ron Howard’s take on the quest to foil white slavers in the old west. We enjoyed this suspenseful tale. The film has some fabulous scenery, very wicked bad guys, a very heroic mother (Blanchett) and too much mysticism for my taste. Oh, and there were several horses, but lately, filmmakers seem to think they are like cars or motorcycles, just transportation.

This plot could have been told in a science fiction setting, with space ships instead of horses, but it works reasonably well as a western. Check it out on Netflix streaming.