Cover image for The Alexandria semaphore
The Alexandria semaphore
Solé, Robert.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Sémaphore d'Alexandrie. English
Publication Information:
London : Harvill, 2001.
Physical Description:
294 pages ; 25 cm

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Maxime Touta, the protege of the flamboyant correspondent of the Semaphore d'Alexandrie, is the perfect eye through which to observe an Egypt poised on the brink of change. The Suez Canal -- the feat of engineering that will transform her fortunes -- is nearing completion, and Ottoman Egypt is torn between the French and the British. For Maxime, who is pursuing his dream of becoming a journalist, the political machinations of the day are woven in with the exuberant nature of life in the Touta clan -- and his own passion for Nada, once a Syrian orphan under the protection of his father, now the beautiful wife of another man.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This is the third installment of Sole's novelistic memoirs about his family's life in Egypt as members of the Syrian Greek Catholic community. Set earlier than the preceding volumes, The Photographer's Wife and Birds of Passage, the current volume focuses on the building of the Suez Canal. While the book includes historical figures like Ferdinand de Lesseps (the canal's builder) and Pasha Arabi (a nationalist leader in the 1880s), the real story belongs to the Touta family, in particular narrator Maxime Touta, whose hopeless passion for his married cousin Nada is equaled only by his desire to become a journalist. Stranded in Alexandria when the British intervene in Egyptian affairs, bombarding the city, Maxime scores a journalistic coup even as he is losing Nada forever. The author deftly brings the boisterous Touta clan to life as their fortunes fluctuate with the political fortunes of the Khedive. Combining the personal with the political, Sole re-creates the lost world of a marginalized community that was never quite at home anywhere. A good choice for larger fiction collections, Sole's work may be in greater demand today as we strive to understand the legacy of colonialism and the roots of Islamic nationalism. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.