Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud

Hid KinkyEsther Freud’s first book is (hopefully) bringing me out of my book blogging slump. Since my last blog post in November 2014 (yes, it’s been ages!) I have read some awe inspiring books. But unfortunately other things in life got in the way, and so I turned my back on Bundle of Books for a little while.

Recently I’ve been feeling restless. I feel I am in need of an adventure. Luckily for me I came across Hideous Kinky in my local Oxfam bookshop and was soon whisked off to Morocco with the unnamed young narrator, her older sister Bea and their mother.

Although it seems to me like an unbelievable story, it’s loosely based on Freud’s own experiences as a child. Her mother who, like me, wanted an adventure, took her children away from England for a couple of unforgettable and unconventional years. We join them in the back of a van as they enter Morocco on a ferry. They take their days very much as they come and live from hand to mouth. When the van breaks down hours from Marrakech, they rent out a house offered to them by Akari, a local shop owner who quickly becomes a friend. When asked how long they’ll be staying, the girls’ mother simply replies “‘Oh I don’t know. As long as we want'”.

They eventually do make their way to Marrakech, where the girls roam the streets with Moroccan children. They sit in cafes sipping sweet mint tea, chatting with friends. They pass the time wondering the local market and watching street entertainers. This is where they meet Bilal, who soon becomes a fixture in the family. They travel with him to meet his family and the children become very fond of him, especially the narrator.

But life isn’t all excitement and adventure. Bea is unsatisfied and wants to go to school. And the mother has spells of unhappiness. When Bilal is not around she spends a lot of time in bed and her children often find her crying. She is a curious character and I would like to know more about her. What made her leave her life behind? What was she searching for in Morocco? I was particularly intrigued by the sudden journey she makes with her youngest daughter to a special mosque near Algiers, where they have to hitch-hike due to lack of money. The mother wants to learn how to become a sufi, but the trip splits the family apart and clearly distresses her daughter. As in The Wild, Freud demonstrates her understanding of children and tells the story exquisitely through the naive and sometimes troubled eyes of her young narrator.

For a whole day I was fully absorbed by Hideous Kinky. There are no great twists or shocks and I think the book is the better for it. The writing transported me to Morocco one otherwise dreary Sunday and has left me feeling a little less restless, but even more eager to save up for my own mini adventure at some point in the future.

If you’d like to join this family for a trip to Morocco, you can click on the picture below to get your own copy of the book.

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