Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

Sweetness in the Belly

by Camilla Gibb

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7893711,647 (3.8)1 / 66
Title:Sweetness in the Belly
Authors:Camilla Gibb
Collections:CF (Canadian Fiction), Your library
Tags:CF GIB, England, historical fiction, Islam

Work details

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

Recently added byprivate library, eastlake_uk, Jackiema, ivconsack, Nininan, anigreenwood, thejayray
  1. 00
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: Both novels have a medical focus and are set in Ethiopia. The main characters in each novel were orphaned at an early age and each spent their childhoods in a religious setting.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
3.5 stars

Lilly was born to an English father and an Irish mother, but her parents were nomads of a sort, so she grew up in Morocco, at least until both parents died. From there, the person who was taking care of her brought her to Ethiopia. This was the 1970s, before a revolution in that country. In the 1980s, Lilly is living in London, England, along with an Ethiopian friend. The two of them are helping Ethiopian refugees find family, friends, and relatives, and both hope to one day find and be reunited with the man they each love.

It was good. I mostly didn't like Lilly, though, especially in the 1980s as she pined away for Aziz so many years later and wouldn't let anyone else in (nor did she even decorate her apartment...she just couldn't move on). I had a bit of trouble getting “into” the book at first, though. It was a bit tricky, also at first, as the narrative jumped back and forth between Ethiopia in the 70s and London in the 80s, as I tried to follow along and figure out who everyone was. Overall, though, the story still turned out to be a good one. ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 13, 2015 |
Sweetness in the Belly: A Novel by Camilla Gibb (2006) ( )
  asawyer | Dec 31, 2014 |
Lilly, a British girl, was orphaned at age 8 while living in Morocco - she was taken in and taught Qur'an by a great spiritual teacher and later moved to Ethiopia where she informally taught Qur'an to local children and had a love affair with a young doctor deeply involved in the country's political struggle - when the political situation and the famine became untenable, she moved to England and worked on behalf of Ethiopians who had also escaped their country-

Lilly was always a foreigner wherever she lived - she never grieved the loss of her parents and was unable to fully embrace her life in London, always remaining attached to the doctor she lost contact with in Ethiopia.

I learned a lot from this novel about Ethiopia, its people and customs and the horrifically corrupt reign of Haillie Sellassie - Lilly was a sensitive and intriguing character - it was difficult to listen to this on audio as the story jumped around a lot - in book form it was much easier to follow - i was engaged, but not overly so and found that though I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot, was never breathless to continue. ( )
  njinthesun | Nov 21, 2014 |
An introduction into a part of the world that is pretty much ignored these days. A trip through Ethiopia of the early 70s and 80s era London. Also explores Muslim practices in that region. ( )
  charlie68 | Feb 25, 2014 |
“My body is a whisper where hers is a shout” p 26.
Abandoned it by about page 120. Too much vague gauzy stuff, with spiritual I-wanna-understand squishiness. ( )
  BCbookjunky | Oct 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
In her third novel, Camilla Gibb takes readers to the often overlooked country of Ethiopia. Gibb intertwines a story of exile in Thatcher’s London with a past pious existence in Haile Selassie’s politically unstable Ethiopia to create a dynamic tapestry of one woman’s life.

Gibb challenges the reader by presenting a protagonist who is difficult to identify with, and not always likeable. Despite her annoying self-righteousness, Lilly’s struggle with her human flaws authenticates her character. Amina balances Lilly’s bitter rigidity, as she flirtatiously flounces around in her tartan skirt. Lilly embodies the many contradictions of love, religion, science, and culture, as she tries to embrace an openness that allows these elements to coexist.

The novel offers many insights on religion, race, and exile. Through the white figure of Lilly, Gibb deculturalizes Islam and reveals the vibrant possibilities it affords – a fact often forgotten in today’s political landscape. From the unpacked boxes in the homes of Ethiopian refugees to Lilly’s stubborn hold on the past, readers see that exile is often based on the myth of return. And racism is ubiquitous, even within the non-colonized walls of Harar.

Gibb balances this heaviness with lush imagery that transports the reader to Lilly’s world. The “glittering … bright head scarves and beaded shawls” in the city of Harar dazzle the reader, the “staggered chorus of muezzins” is a loud awakening, and the smell of incense and sweat in Lilly’s secret meetings with Aziz is hypnotic. Gibb also presents social commentary through humour. However, these few instances of clever wit leave the reader wanting more.

All of these details of a most unusual place and story weave a human tapestry of love, loss, and survival. This “outsider’s struggle to assert a place … and the euphoric, if fleeting, sense of peace in finding one” leaves the reader with a sweetness that comes from something fresh and new.

added by VivienneR | editQuill & Quire, Prasanthi Vasanthakumar (Jan 18, 2014)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143038729, Paperback)

Like Brick Lane and The Kite Runner, Camilla Gibb’s widely praised new novel is a poignant and intensely atmospheric look beyond the stereotypes of Islam. After her hippie British parents are murdered, Lilly is raised at a Sufi shrine in Morocco. As a young woman she goes on pilgrimage to Harar, Ethiopia, where she teaches Qur’an to children and falls in love with an idealistic doctor. But even swathed in a traditional headscarf, Lilly can’t escape being marked as a foreigner. Forced to flee Ethiopia for England, she must once again confront the riddle of who she is and where she belongs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:15 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"When Lilly is eight years old, her pot-smoking hippie British parents leave her at a Sufi shrine in Morocco and inform her they will be back to collect her in three days. Three weeks later, she learns they've been murdered. Lilly fills that haunted hollow in her life with the intense study of the Qur'an under the watchful eye of the saint's disciple she was entrusted to. Years later, her journey from Morocco to Harar, Ethiopia, is half pilgrimage, half flight. In Harar, even her traditional Muslim head scarves cannot hide her white skin in her strange new surroundings; the word farenji - foreigner - is hissed at her at every turn. She eventually builds a life for herself teaching children the Qur'an, and she finds herself falling in love with an idealistic young doctor. But the two are wrenched apart when Lilly is again forced to flee, this time to London. Despite her British roots, Lilly discovers she is as much of an outsider in London as she was in Harar."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
5 avail.
34 wanted
9 pay5 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.8)
0.5 2
1 1
1.5 2
2 10
2.5 6
3 35
3.5 12
4 86
4.5 13
5 37


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,859,630 books! | Top bar: Always visible