An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

An Unnecessary Womanimage
Rabih Alameddine

An Unnecessary Woman is simply a beautiful piece of literature. Alameddine’s writing style is exquisite and stunning. He provides a character that is charming and memorable. This is truly a novel all will enjoy. So many passages I wanted to quote but I didn’t want to be greedy or ruin the magnificent reading journey for you. One word -breathtaking – basically summarizes An Unnecessary Woman, this novel is among my favorites sitting proudly on my shelf and will be revisited many times in the future.

Alameddine’s writing commands attention. His proficient use and manipulation of language mesmerizes the peruser. His words provide a visual and tactile experience. Full of emotion and depth, his prose is nothing less than bewitching. A wordsmith, an artist, the paper his canvas, every word a brushstroke, the final outcome crafted a true masterpiece.

‘Shame. Such a worrywart I am. I miss miracles blooming before my eyes: I concentrate on a fading star and miss the constellation.’

‘My soul is fate’s chew toy. My destiny pursues me like an experienced tracker, like a malevolent hunter, bites me and won’t let go.’

Beirut is the setting, a powerful and explosive environment. Surviving each day a challenge. War, violence, death surrounds and consumes you. The ebb and flow of war and peace is affecting. Alameddine transports the reader into the bowels of this turbulent country, its people and culture. Experiencing Beirut through the lens of a insightful author is an unforgettable educational experience.

”Beirut is the Elizabeth Taylor of cities: insane, beautiful, tacky, falling apart, aging, and forever drama laden. She’ll also marry any infatuated suitor who promises to make her life more comfortable, no matter how inappropriate he is.”

We have the privilege of meeting Aalyia Sohbi, a 72-year-old translator residing in Beirut with no plans on leaving. I defy you not to fall in love with this incredible woman. As she recounts her life, you feel her strength, her losses, her passion, her tenacity. Drained from the demands of disgruntled people, she loses herself and regroups by total immersion in literature. An introvert by choice, this woman prefers her solitary and meager lifestyle. Alone, childless by decision and by the hand dealt, you sense her lack of regrets but deep desire the end result could have been improved upon. She owns her life and accepts her choices without bitterness. A woman setting the bar high for autonomy. I saw myself in Aalyia and many of the women I love and admire. She is who I want to be and yet the woman pieces of me are.

”Although I know the characters of a novel as a collection of scenes as well, as accumulated sentences in my head. I feel I know them better than I do my mother. I fill in the blanks with literary personas better than I do with real people, or maybe I make more of an effort. I know Lolita’s mother better than I do mine, and I must say, I feel her more than I feel my mother. I recognize Rembrandt’s painted face of his mother better than I recognize the real face of mine.”

Combing amazing prose, a powerful narrative and setting along with a memorable and charming character An Unnecessary Woman is flawless. A novel leaving you lost in thought, its acumen is powerful. A piece of literature the discerning reader will appreciate beyond measure, more than a well written novel full of impact, An Unnecessary Woman is a reading experience. A novel you will never forget, I venture to say life altering.

A story of war, loneliness, grief most of all resilience. A tale of courage, courage to see the beauty behind the wreckage. A must read. A book lovers book.

“I walk myself back to my bedroom, back to the stacks of books on my mirrorless vanity, unread books that I intend to read, a large stack. Choosing which book isn’t difficult. The choice is typically the last one I brought home. I acquire books constantly and place them in the to-read pile. When I finish with whatever book I’m reading, I begin the last book I bought, the one that caught my attention last. Of course, the pile grows and grows until I decide that I’m not going to buy a single book until I read my stack. Sometimes that works.”

Recommendation:  5/5


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