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The Lives of Shadows: An Illustrated Novel…
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The Lives of Shadows: An Illustrated Novel

by Barbara Hodgson

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Another magical, faintly supernatural, and gorgeously illustrated tale from the pen of Barbara Hodgson. The ephemera reprinted within its pages is fascinating in and of itself, and I was drawn in to the story of Bait Katib, a ghostly house in Damascus. That the city is now once again a battlefield gave this novel extra poignancy.
  Panopticon2 | Jul 24, 2012 |
When a youn a Englishman, Julian Beaufort, visits Syria in 1914, Bait Katib, a home in the labyrinth of Damascus's Old Medina, makes such an impression on him that he buys it.

He intends to retreat quietly into the cool, comforting shadows of Bait Katib, but he is called away to war, and it is many years before he can return.

When he returns he settles into the house, and becomes possessed by the house, and obsessed with the daughter of the previous owners. She occupies the most obscure corners of the house, while Julian remains unaware of her presence.

This book, like every book I've read by Barbara Hodgson was such a pleasure to read. It was rich in beautiful artistic detail, from sepia photographs, to Arabic calligraphy, and even photos of architecture; a real feast for the eyes as well as a beautiful, haunting story. Beyond that, it was rich in historic detail of a very specific time and place.

The Lives of Shadows was a real pleasure to read. I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially for fans of Nick Bantock. Really, I think this book would be enjoyed by almost anyone. It sparkles like a multi-faceted diamond. ( )
  bookwoman247 | May 10, 2012 |
A beautiful, low-key story that draws you in with the first sentence. The drawings, photographs, etc. that are attributed to the main character only add to the atmosphere of this story. ( )
  jaynedArcy | Dec 29, 2009 |
This is an interesting book. Some years ago, I had read [the Sensualist] and liked it. Hodgson's books are illustrated and give you a sense of reality, [Lives of Shadows] is laid in Damascus, and takes us through the Syrian revolution in 1925 and the aftermath of World War II. The illustrations include Arabic calligraphy, newpaper clippping, house drawings, photographs, property records.These may be faithful without being true. Or maybe it depends on how you define reality and from what vantage point? There is a bondage between the two main characters, who both make entries into journals they are writing, which is both enigmatic and strangely close. You don't know the novel is going to resolve until the very end. ( )
  vpfluke | May 27, 2007 |
Magical if predictable - but one's really not in it for the narrative. The vivid illustrations and the potent device of two stories told on back to back in a single journal (how I wish that the book could have materialised this, as in Carole Shield's Happenstance) kept me reading, and the book has lingered as the ghost house does. ( )
1 vote deliriumslibrarian | Apr 23, 2006 |
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Julian should have never opened the door.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811839265, Hardcover)

In the spring of 1914, a restless young man leaves England for a tour of the exotic east. A bit of Egypt, a glimpse of Syria, a nod to Constantinople -- that's all that was supposed to happen. Instead, Julian Beaufort becomes mesmerized. Wandering in idle admiration through the labyrinthine streets of Damascus, he stumbles upon Bait Katib, a house that takes possession of his heart. It is elegant; it is ancient; and it is, after a bit of negotiation with the owner, his. He has every intention of staying there for the rest of his life. But the world doesn't relinquish its hold so easily. Two bloody wars -- one in Europe and one in Syria -- leave Julian wounded and the city of Damascus in ruins. He returns from battle to find his precious house still standing, but no longer entirely his. It seems someone else may be occupying the shadows of Bait Katib. A mystery, a love story, and a journey to a sepia-toned past, Barbara Hodgson's new illustrated novel will haunt and delight her many devoted readers and tempt legions more to take a guided journey into another world.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:03 -0400)

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