The Dark Side of Love - Rafik Schami, Anthea Bell I am so very frustrated with this book! The violence is repetitive. The sex is disturbingly portrayed, and it is repetitive too. There is no beauty in any love relationship. Beauty....I thought I would glimpse the beauty of the Syrian landscape. No! I thought I would be drawn into learning about Syrian history and culture. I thought I would get a feel for Damascus. All of this is lacking.

There is no emotional tie between the reader and the numerous characters. You meet a character and he is married and has six children and then is killed or dies of an illness. All within three pages. Then the next character is delivered to you in the next two pages, and so on and so on. Yes, I am exaggerating a teeny bit, but not much. I need a feeling of attachment to at least one or two characters. I feel nothing for any one of them. Why? There are too many, there is zero dialog and you are told rather than having been shown. The classical failure of poorly written books.

Have I learned interesting facts of history? No! I have been told in a few short sentences about the conniving behavior and bribery of those in power, but there is no continuity to the historical facts. There is little substance to show me how the people were affected by life under these leaders. They merely appear and disappear.


This book is poorly written. There is not one beautiful or thought provoking line. You learn nothing, neither about human behavior, history, Damascus nor Syria. You couldn't care less about any of the characters. There is no humor. It is inexcusable that more than 200 pages is necessary for a book to become interesting or the slightest engaging, so yes, I am dumping this book.

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Through page 175:

I hope this improves. There are two Syrian families that have a blood feud. If you can kill someone in the other family, you do it! Guess what happens then? A girl from one family and a guy from the other feuding family fall in love. Surprising? The biggest problem is that I have met about fifty people from these two families. (Thank God there are two complete family trees in the front of the book.) Too many characters to feel a thing for any one of them, let alone keep their names straight! Yes, there is murder and fornication and then another murder and more fornication. Multiply that by three or four. None of the characters mean anything at all to me so I couldn't care less..... I hope this improves. I have heard the book has a slow start.