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The Bread of Angels: A Memoir of Love and Faith in Damascusby Stephanie Saldana
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.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
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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