Loved this book, and it caused me to ferret out his other works. Tahir Shah writing style is humorous as well as thoughtful. An Anglo-Afghan raised in England, he has "one eye in the East and one eye in the West". Gave me a more complete understanding of the Middle Eastern mentality. Also, there are pics of the completed house posted online should you want a visual aid to go with his descriptions of rehabbing an old house in Casablanca.
The Caliph's House is the author's account of moving his London family to Casablanca, of all places. Shah describes the manic experience of buying and attempting to remodel a palatial house (one wonders how he pays for it all). It's a rollicking read and you'll breeze right through it. There are interesting side stories about his family's connections to Morocco, and the various people he meets.
A few things struck me as strange-- abrupt changes in the direction of the narrative (although as I write this, it occurs to me that this may meant to set the Moroccan mood), occasionally slight attention paid to his wife and children, and a few things I thought he just neglected to describe completely.
All in all, though, this is terrific travel writing and I recommend it.
Very like 'A Year in Provence' except that this venture (by a Brit/Afghan family) takes place in far more exotic and possibly dangerous Casablanca in Morocco. Still, great humor told absolutely dead-pan, as the author deals with an untrustworthy architect, workmen who destroy more than they build, superstitious locals, a raft of stubborn servants, and of course, the djinns - those mysterious, wicked spirits who occupy the house and just may be trying to get rid of the new owner.
Michelle P. reviewed The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca on
Reading "Caliph's House" transported me to Morocco! It's well written and moves at a good pace. Part of the journey of this book is to discover each character's motivation in a culture completely different from the author's and mine.