Books & Literature

Book Review: The Moroccan Daughter, by Deborah Rodriguez

CONTEMPORARY: From the twisted alleyways of the ancient medina of Fès to a marriage festival high in the Atlas Mountains, Deborah Rodriguez’s entrancing new bestseller is a modern story of forbidden love.

Simple and sweet.

Author Deborah Rodriguez first burst onto the scene with her bestseller, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul in 2011. She has since published several more novels and memoirs, most set in locations exotic to Western readers. 

Her latest novel The Moroccan Daughter is (unsurprisingly) mostly set in Morocco. It follows Charlie, a young woman from Carmel in California, and her grandmother Bea, as they travel to Morocco with Charlie’s best friend Amina. They are going to attend Amina’s sister’s wedding in Fez. Unbeknownst to Amina’s father, she has married an American man, Max, without telling any of her family. The lies and deceptions continue as we find Charlie has had a green-card marriage with a Moroccan national, and Amina may not be who she thinks she is. 

Rodriguez has mastered the art of writing “straight to book club”. She produces simple, charming, unchallenging works, which give readers an, albeit superficial, glimpse into non-Western cultures. 

The Moroccan Daughter is not terribly well-written. The characters are one-dimensional, the dialogue is clunky and over-written, and Rodriguez falls into the rookie mistake of doing an awful lot of telling, and not much showing. The plot is more a series of things happening to people, rather than a cohesive narrative. 

However, despite these drawbacks, this is a good, light, summer read. The superficial characters are engaging enough, the portrait of Morocco, and in particular the Medina in Fez, is fascinating, and there are some important issues of women’s rights that are explored. 

Like all good books of this type, there are suggested book-club questions at the end, along with some delicious Moroccan recipes. 

If you’re looking for a palate-cleanser in between some literary fiction, this might be just the sorbet you’re looking for. 

Visit Deborah Rodriguez’s website here.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Distributed by: Penguin 
Released: 2 February 2021
RRP: $32.99

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