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Juliana Maio has written an impressive debt novel. She is a natural story teller.
Judith S. (Binghamton, NY)
A lovely read
Set in Cairo, Egypt in 1941 with WWII in full swing. There was a thriving Jewish community in Cairo and it became a common destination for Jews escaping the Fascist regimes of Europe. Egypt looking to free themselves from British domination formed close ties with the Nazi's. The Nazi's where funding militant nationalistic societies using them to promote antisemitism in Cairo.
Set against this backdrop Maio weaves a tale of romance, intrigue, deception. I enjoyed this book but felt that the affair between Maya and Mickey overshadowed the story. The story is the an emerging Egypt looking to free itself from the British, the Nazi's fueling a growing Egyptian nationalism with propaganda about both the Jews and British. The politics of the time became the backdrop where I would have enjoyed the story more if the politics were in the forefront with the romance in the background.
The Jews have a long history in Egypt, the onset of WWII was the beginning of the end for them. During WWII there were 80,000 Jews in Cairo, today there are less than 40. I look forward to this author bringing us more of the Jews in Egypt.
Juliana Maio book is an excellent blend of history and romance. It is light. On the other hand it is a reminder of the ravages of war on both individuals and countries. Certainly Egypt is no longer Paris of the Nile. The love story is a blend of fast paced suspense, sophisticated humor of its time and romance. Quite enjoyable. Ms. Maio obviously loves her country. I would read more of her work.
Duane F. (Cape Girardeau, MO)
City of the Sun
I am ashamed to say it took me 3 months to finish this book. It had great promise... WWII, spies, Jewish refuges, love, Egypt and a promise of insight into the current Middle Easter crisis. It just never lived up to its promises. It's biggest fault was it seemed the dialog and character descriptions were geared to a younger audience. The plot had incredible potential, but was not complicated or realistic enough for me. The love story seemed stunted an then suddenly very explicit as though the author thought that perhaps she should throw it in to hold our interest. By the time it was presented, I had lost interest in the characters. The whole story line could have been much more developed. I felt as though the author was afraid to give her readers a real taste of what went in at that time period, location and political environment. Perhaps that she felt we could not handle real fact and it was presented like a fairy tale for middle schoolers. The author has potential... But needs to take into account, "The reason we read fiction based on fact is we wish fact with our fiction."
M D Foster
City of the Sun
This book had the makings of a great read. WWII, spies, Jewish refuges, love, Egypt and the promise of I site into the current conflict in the Middle East. All of which I find interesting and intriguing. But alas the character development was not there, the plot never measured up to its promise and the dialog seemed written for a younger audience. I had to really force myself to finish it. It all seemed to be too predictable. Too many lone forces to carry out what should have been a much more complicated plot. Just too simplistic to be believed. The love angle withered, then became too explicit for the level of interactions of the characters. I believe the writer just never really relaxed into her own characters. It took me 3 months to finish it due to several other books which I found far more compelling reads. A great plot which sagged from a lack of character development.
Glamour & Espionage in Cairo
I requested this book from NetGalley because it is based on my two favorite reading topis -- the Middle East and Judaism. It is wartime Cairo, 1941. There is a mix of refugees, British soldiers, and spies in Cairo at this time. The Nazis are moving toward northern Africa. Hitler is becoming a bedfellow with the Muslim Brotherhood. Mickey Connolly is in Cairo to report on the current status of the war. However, he is secretly trying to get information on a refugee nuclear scientist (Eric Blumenthal). America wants to build the "big bomb" and Blumenthal could be the key to making that happen. The Nazis are also looking for him. There's romance when Connolly becomes involved with Maya, who unknown to him is Blumenthal's sister. Maio writes the story in such a way that I could easily visualize like in Cairo at that time. Most people are not aware of the intricacies of life in places like Cairo and Istanbul during this time period. There's the elaborate parties, the espionage, the sense of constant danger. Maio captured the atmosphere and made it real for me.
BJ (Mukwonago, WI)
A New Perspective
I found City of the Sun an enjoyable read especially since historical fiction is not a genre I would typically choose. The story as a mystery intrigued me more than anything to begin with, but as I continued through the book I realized I was being drawn in--I wanted to know more about WWII along with the multiple geographic locations and cultures it affected. Believable fiction and a good first novel, this is definitely one that could be adapted into a film.
Marcy C. (Minneapolis, MN)
City of the Sun
This was an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates historical fiction. I have read numerous works of fiction that use WW II as the setting but I have never read one that took place in Northern Africa.
Zonetta G. (Winter Springs, FL)
City of the Sun
The author introduces the reader to a segment of WWII that was unfamiliar to me. She is obviously extremely knowledgeable and passionate about Egypt and its peoples and the conflicting ideologies of the various factions, and the Jews of Egypt. While her basic premise and plot were intriguing, I found the development of her main characters a little weak--as if written for a younger audience. I was not as invested in the main couple as I would liked to have to been. Their relationship was a little forced unbelievable. The last quarter of the book was much more exciting, even though a little confusing with all the various characters. The book does, however, inspire an interest to learn more about the North African Theater of WWII.