Monday, February 25, 2008

Thank heavens for the likes of Rosie Thomas

As readers of the AfterWords for Iris and Ruby (page 554 of the current Select Editions volume) know, the author of this exotic historical romance set mostly in Cairo, Egypt, loves to travel. Rosie Thomas, it seems, has been everywhere. From the Antarctic to the Alps. But, of course she hasn’t. And that spurs this every curious wordsmith to seek ever-new places to explore and then craft new dramas that turn on faraway locales. Thank heavens for the like of Rosie Thomas, I say! One of the chief pleasures of reading good books is the chance to experience a good armchair get-away. It doesn’t really matter if you’re inside on a rainy-day weekend afternoon or if you really are traveling in a train or bus on the way to work or slumped in the cabin of a noisy airplane for a vacation trip—a gripping read lets you escape in the imagination. It’s one of life’s simple miracles.

Oh, and you always get to learn stuff. In Iris and Ruby, I really did learn about Cairo. This cramped metropolis on the banks of the Nile is, thanks to Thomas, a much less forbidding and much less alien-seeming place to me now. In fact, I feel as if I really have walked along the ancient passageways of the famous Khan al-Khalili market (above right) and glimpsed the pyramids of Giza at dawn. And I didn’t have to use up any frequent flyer miles to get there!


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