I actually ordered this book by mistake – I had intended to purchase another book by the same name, but different author. This version of A House of Stone is a memoir about the author’s experiences in rebuilding his ancestral home in Southern Lebanon. I enjoy books like these, so I wasn’t disappointed about the mix-up and decided to give it a try.
I enjoyed Shadid’s telling of the struggles of a building project in a third world country, and his amusing and interesting stories about his friends and workers on the house. I found particularly compelling learning more about the culture and politics of the region, and it’s impact on the stability of the area.
Shadid also interspersed this memoir with stories about his ancestors, which I found to be very alien and dry. Shadid was a beautiful writer, but somehow, he failed to connect with me.
About halfway through the book I was curious to find out more about the author – since he was a war correspondent and the civil war in Syria was sure to have had an effect on his life. I was saddened to find out he died in Damascus, shortly after writing this memoir. His wife wrote the epilogue, and it was very touching. I can’t help but feel saddened that he never truly got to enjoy the home he spent so much time and money in restoring. I also wonder if the house is even still standing after all the recent fighting in the area. But we have Shadid’s story, and the story of his family who will always be a part of this land, even centuries later. And that is something.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012