In 1940, harems still abounded in Fez, Morocco. They weren't the opulent, bejeweled harems of Scherezade, but the domestic sprawl of extended families encamped around a walled courtyard that marked the edges of women's lives. Though born into this tightly sheltered world, Fatimi Mernissi is constantly urged by her rebellious mother to spring beyond it. Worried that Mernissi is too shy and quiet, her mother tells her, "You must learn to scream and protest, just the way you learned to walk and talk." In Dreams of Trespass, an enjoyable weave of memory and fantasy, it is clear that Mernissi's fertile imagination let her slip back and forth through the gates that trapped her restive mother. She spins amiable, often improbable tales of the rigidly proper city harem in Fez and the contrasting freedoms of the country harem where her grandmother Yakima lives. There, one of Yakima's cowives rides like the wind, another swims like a fish, and Yakima relishes twitting the humorless first wife by naming a fat, waddling duck after her.
This rich, magical and absorbing growing-up tale set in a little-known culture reflects many universals about women. The setting is a "domestic harem"in the 1940s city of Fez, where an extended family arrangement keeps the women mostly apart from society, as opposed to the more stereotypical "imperial harem," which historically provided sex for sultans and other powerful court officials. Moroccan sociologist Mernissi ( Islam and Democracy ) charts the changing social and political frontiers and limns the personalities and quirks of her world. Here she tells of a grandmother who warns that the world is unfair to women, learns of the confusing WW II via radio news in Arabic and French, watches family members debate what children should hear, wonders why American soldiers' skin doesn't reflect Moroccan-style racial mixing and decides that sensuality must be a part of women's liberation. With much folk wisdom--happiness, the author's mother told her, "was when there was a balance between what you gave and what you took"--this book not only tells a winning personal story but also helps to feminize a much-stereotyped religion. Photos. BOMC and QPB selections.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I began this book with many typical Western preconceived notions. I expected the exoticized harem of one sheik with many wives that we hear about in the movies and in literature. Read morePublished on June 17 2002 by Kelly McGee
The struggles of a girl's life in Harlem brings together the major ideas of this book together. In the book Dreams of Trespass a girl tries to understand her place in society, but... Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2001 by Lauren Lorberbaum
i was surprised to find only one unfavorable view on this book.. i found it's ornate diction along with its detailed descriptions and banal subjects most suffocating and tedious to... Read morePublished on March 28 2001 by kathy
Mernissi's book is a refreshing departure from the usual stories out of the Muslim world. Mernissi does not focus on the sterotypes of Muslim women present in the Western world,... Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2000
Dreams of Trespass is a wonderfully written novel about a young girl growing up inside a harem. Fatima did an extrodinary job describing how the women of her family managed to... Read morePublished on Sept. 18 2000 by "pandora62375"
It is really difficult for Americans to comprehend a culture as different as traditional Moroccan culture. Read morePublished on June 16 2000 by "margaret1"
The book Dreams of Trespass was easy and enjoyable book to read. It tells the story of the author as a young girl. Read morePublished on May 4 2000 by jennifer gottardo
This book was very entertaining and informative. The author did a wonderful job of explaining what life is like in a harem for a woman in Morroco. Read morePublished on May 2 2000 by Abby