Professor Hanaa, the protagonist, fiercely independent in a male dominated society makes for a memorable lead character. The book is, at times odd, curious, intriguing, witty, frustrating and compelling. Hanaa will stick in my mind for some time yet. As a newcomer to Egyptian writing it offers a frank portrayal of gender and the status of women in that country.
She told herself that if she needed to explain herself to the doorman every day in this country, just because she was a woman, then it would be better if she went somewhere more civilized. It never crossed her mind to give the doorman ten pounds and explain that Khaled was her student. Ten pounds would have been sufficient to open the closed doors in his brain! Ten pounds would have been enough to make him feel like the private bodyguard of a French princess - if there was such a thing as a French princess! Ten pounds would have been enough to open up his heart, purge his conscience and explain the situation. She, however was not planning to sacrifice ten pounds. She had no intention of starting to pay bribes now.