When Suzanna Clarke and her husband Sandy McCutcheon bought a dilapidated house in the Fez Medina, their friends in Australia thought they were mad. Located in a maze of donkey-trod alleyways, the house -- an Arab-style riad -- was beautiful but in desperate need of repair.
Walls were in danger of collapse, the plumbing non-existent. While neither Suzanna nor Sandy spoke Arabic and had only a smattering of French, they were determined to restore the house to its original splendor, using traditional artisans and handmade materials. So began a remarkable experience that veered between frustration, hilarity, and moments of pure exhilaration.
But restoring the house was only part of their immersion in the rich and colorful life of an ancient city. A House in Fez
is a journey into Moroccan culture -- into its day-to-day rhythms, its customs and festivals. Into its history, Islam, and Sufi rituals. Into the lore of djinns and spirits. And above all, into the lives of the people -- warm, friendly, hospitable to a fault. Discussion Questions
1. How does the Suzanna Clarke's experience purchasing a home in Fez serve as a metaphor of sorts for the kind of obstacles she will face in the process of restoring it? To what extent do the complexities of her purchase seem to relate to her approaching the process as a foreigner who does not speak Darija? What role does the antiquity of the riad play in the drawn-out nature of the real