The Book of Trouble: A Romance

Ann Marlowe, Author . Harcourt $23 (277p) ISBN 978-0-15-101131-5

Before Afghanistan became front-page news and then a travel destination for adventurers, Marlowe (How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z ) "dreamed about going there." After missing the chance as a 20-year-old exploring Europe (she got as close as Istanbul), she had to wait 25 years. During that time, the author, a writer and legal headhunter, bought a Manhattan townhouse, traveled to other Third World countries, survived heroin addiction and enjoyed a lively sex life as a single woman. She finally trekked to Afghanistan in 2002, where she found the "kindness and tenderness" she lacked in New York and, although she's Jewish, felt "more at home than I had in Israel, and more loved." The book's subtitle refers to the author's failed affair with an Afghan man 10 years her junior, but the memoir is equally a valentine for the Islamic world. Marlowe meets Amir, a Muslim engineer, shortly before her second trip to Afghanistan; between chapters about her passionate times with him, she writes fondly about her host family in the northern city of Mazar, where she teaches English. Though a graceful writer, Marlowe has trouble integrating the stories of her two passions. Still, her honest meditations on love and family make this a satisfying read. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 09/12/2005
Release date: 02/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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