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Book Review: The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten

Some books are so terrific with their cultural backdrop that more than the story you begin taking interest in local customs, people, tribes, rituals, and so on. On the similar lines, we have The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten, a historical fiction. The story opens in 1835 when colonization was taking roots in European culture.

Sibylla Spencer is a strong-headed woman of twenty three, unmarried, and daughter of Spencer Shipping Company’s owner. She has different opinions about the life she is leading in London of 1835. Somehow, she gets on with Benjamin Hopkins, a clerk in Spencer Company. They get married. When Spencer Company’s Moroccan trade agent dies, Sibylla along with her husband moves to Morocco to handle business accounts. Once they are into Mogador, a port city in Morocco, the priorities in their lives begin changing and the love between them evaporated without showing signs of wisps. It is clear that Sibylla is not happy with Benjamin, but still for the sake of her two sons, she drags the relationship. Around the same time, she gets attracted to a French soldier Andre Rouston. They love each other and meet up secretly at a ruined Spanish church.

Sibylla is unaware that her husband is engaged into slave trade and earning fortune. In fact, Benjamin confides in her no more. They live in one house, but do not trust each other, and often Benjamin remains out of home on account of business tour. Clearly, family spirit has broken down. Soon Benjamin is taken as a prison and sent to an isolated island on the charges of illegal business practices.

Sibylla obtains the freedom of his husband with the help of that French soldier, but at that time, French invasion on Algeria spoils the reputation of Morocco as they fail to help France. As a result, French army captures Mogador and heavily bombards that island where Benjamin is kept prisoner. Benjamin is taken as dead, Sibylla later discovers that her husband wasn’t innocent; he was involved into slave trading. She was happy to lose her and have had all intentions to start afresh with Andre Rouston. But fate had some other planning for them in store. Will they meet, like the lovers who first part away and then reconcile?

The story is not about Sibylla only, in fact as you progress you will find her sons and daughter Emily also struggling for some or other things. The culture presented in the book is of prominent value. The storyline is weak because the time span it covers is like rite of passage but still the main characters do not look converging to one focal point. The author left the French invasion part unfinished. The story is more about women of Mogador. Go for it if you liked abstract love stories or half-written historical war fictions. The plus side is that the book will take you on a cultural tour of North Africa.


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