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The Bread of Angels: A Memoir of Love and Faith in Damascus

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The Bread of Angels: A Memoir of Love and Faith in Damascus Cover

ISBN13: 9781441729149
ISBN10: 1441729143
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Staff Pick

I almost left this book on the shelf, thinking it was just a spinoff of Eat, Pray, Love. I'm so glad I didn't! The bones of the story are similar: woman travels to foreign country on the heels of an emotional breakup and finds true love (that last part feeling most fairy-tale-ish). But Bread of Angels is different enough that I'm wondering if perhaps Joseph Campbell overlooked the archetypal story of the woman who flees, after an experience of brokenness, to reconstruct her sense of self. Or maybe I just missed it. In any case, Saldaña's quest is more explicitly spiritual, and she's returning to the Middle East, where she's already spent a great deal of time. She writes with tenderness for the people she encounters: Iraqi war refugees, her landlord with his lost life in Lebanon, and the devout Muslim girls she teaches English to in the school run by the Sheikha (a female Sheikh) with whom Saldaña studies. Her love for Damascus, her year there as an American studying the Muslim Jesus, and her several journeys to a Christian monastery that conducts mass in Arabic — all make for a book with an outward focus that balances the inward, carrying a powerful message of hope in both directions.
Recommended by Kelly L., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A gorgeous, romantic memoir of a young woman's year in Damascus, where she studied the Muslim Jesus, fled to an ancient desert monastery to heal her past, and unexpectedly found herself in love with a French novice monk.

In 2004, twenty-seven-year-old Stephanie Saldana traveled to Damascus, Syria, on a Fulbright fellowship to study the role of the prophet Jesus in Islam. She was also fleeing a broken heart. It was not an ideal time to be an American in the Middle East — the United States had recently invaded Iraq, refugees were flooding into Damascus, and dark rumors swirled that Syria might be next to come under American attack.

Miserable and lonely, Stephanie left Damascus to visit an ancient Christian monastery carved into the desert cliffs. In that beautiful, austere setting, she confronted her wavering faith and met Frederic, a young French novice monk. As they set out to explore the mysteries entwining Christianity and Islam, Stephanie slowly realized that she had found God again — and that she was in love with Frederic. But would Frederic choose God or Stephanie?

The Bread of Angels sweeps readers into the violent extremes of a war-torn region and renews their belief in faith, self-discovery, and the possibility of true love.

Synopsis:

Part spiritual autobiography, part travelogue, and part love story, The Bread of Angels sweeps readers into the violent extremes of a war-torn region and renews their belief in faith, self-discovery, and the possibility of true love.

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Denise Morland, June 12, 2010 (view all comments by Denise Morland)
In Bread of Angels Stephanie Saldana spends a year studying Arabic in Damascus. She starts out lonely and lost about what she wants to do with her life. Her Arabic studies are difficult to say the least and she soon learns that the archaic Arabic she is learning to study the Quran is all but useless in the streets. 9/11 happens and the the US invades Iraq, making it a bad time to be an American in Syria. Eventually Stephanie retreats to a beautiful and ancient Christian monastary in the desert where she confronts her crisis of faith head on and falls in love with a French novice monk.

Bread of Angels is the best kind of memoir, unflinchingly honest with the clearer vision of hindsight. Stephanie writes of the places she traveled with stunning descriptions but it is the people she introduces who will stay with you and feel like friends by the end. I felt I knew her crazy landlord, the Iraqi artist she befriends, and the amazing women in the mosque who she teaches English to. The story is part travelogue, part spiritual quest, and part love story and I really enjoyed it.

I listened to the audio version of this book. It was beautifully and expressively read by Cassandra Campbell. This is one of those narrations that is so spot-on its hard to believe it isn't the author telling you the story herself as you sip glasses of tea together.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781441729149
Author:
Saldana, Stephanie
Publisher:
Blackstone Audiobooks
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20100231
Binding:
MP3 CD
Language:
English

Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Women

The Bread of Angels: A Memoir of Love and Faith in Damascus New Mp3 Cd
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Product details pages Blackstone Audiobooks - English 9781441729149 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I almost left this book on the shelf, thinking it was just a spinoff of Eat, Pray, Love. I'm so glad I didn't! The bones of the story are similar: woman travels to foreign country on the heels of an emotional breakup and finds true love (that last part feeling most fairy-tale-ish). But Bread of Angels is different enough that I'm wondering if perhaps Joseph Campbell overlooked the archetypal story of the woman who flees, after an experience of brokenness, to reconstruct her sense of self. Or maybe I just missed it. In any case, Saldaña's quest is more explicitly spiritual, and she's returning to the Middle East, where she's already spent a great deal of time. She writes with tenderness for the people she encounters: Iraqi war refugees, her landlord with his lost life in Lebanon, and the devout Muslim girls she teaches English to in the school run by the Sheikha (a female Sheikh) with whom Saldaña studies. Her love for Damascus, her year there as an American studying the Muslim Jesus, and her several journeys to a Christian monastery that conducts mass in Arabic — all make for a book with an outward focus that balances the inward, carrying a powerful message of hope in both directions.

"Synopsis" by , Part spiritual autobiography, part travelogue, and part love story, The Bread of Angels sweeps readers into the violent extremes of a war-torn region and renews their belief in faith, self-discovery, and the possibility of true love.
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