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“ …Finally a grand taxi stopped and offered to take us to the train station for the unbelievably low fare of twenty dirham, so unbelievably low, that I was not a little disappointed when the driver didn’t rob us, slit our throats, and dump our bodies into the Strait of Gibraltar… “
Stealing Fatima’s Hand is an unforgettable collection of interconnected narratives presenting an alternative view of Morocco – a country not of labyrinthine alleys, Kasbahs, and smoky tea rooms – but a more madcap Morocco, one left to be discovered after all the coach tours depart.
Imagine the impossible: one finds oneself in a heady and mysterious locale on the edge of North Africa, a country replete with colorful characters, incomprehensible customs and taboos, a spoken language lacking an alphabet, often frustrating religious practices and, in spite of all this capital ‘E’ exoticism, one still doesn’t want to marry a local? Or turn a decrepit ryad into a boutique hotel? Or write for the travel page in the Sunday paper? Carolyn Thériault does more than imagine it.
After making a rather drunken New Year’s Resolution to toss aside their conventional lifestyle and pension plans, Carolyn, a somewhat cynical, snarky ex-pat and self-proclaimed square-peg, with her photographer husband Chris decide to walk away from their comfortable jobs in the Land of the Round Doorknobs (Canada) to travel the world. Because their long-suffering attempts at financial independence (weekly lottery tickets) have not borne any fruit, the only apparent means to rectify this situation they believe is to teach English overseas. And Morocco seems to fit the bill. But does it?
Unconventional and candid – Stealing Fatima’s Hand stands out as an irreverent black sheep in the literary travel genre, succeeding in undoing for Morocco everything that Peter Mayle has done for Provence. The book spans two years of Carolyn’s experiences in Rabat, where with humor and honesty she struggles with Moroccan bureaucracy, sexual harassment, the threat of terrorism, devious students, randy co-teachers, and the temptation of having French pastries washed down with gin & tonics for every meal. All this in a country, where apart from her, the only vegetarians are the sheep and the goats.