The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter
by Tom Durwood (Goodreads Author)
2 out of 5 stars
In 1860s Egypt, Salima helps her father with his ferryboat business, but she longs for more education and wants to travel and see the world. Hoping to make some money to pay for school, she applies for a clerk position with a company overseeing the construction of the Suez Canal. She becomes entangled with the corruption and danger surrounding the various European and Egyptian powers struggling for control of the new canal.
The writing style is really excellent, and made me care deeply about the characters. However, it could use a copy editor for little things like punctuation.
The plot was exciting, and the adventure was interesting. However, there were times when I couldn’t understand why the plot took the direction it did in some scenes. It wasn’t clear why the characters chose to do what they did, or how they got to a certain point, or how they gained particular knowledge. It was just some little things that didn’t quite add up, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the overall story.
I liked the various art styles of the illustrations, and how they brought the reader right into the scene. The beautiful Egyptian setting and all the history about the building of the canal were completely fascinating!
I really liked Salima’s relationships with her friends, and how they grow and learn to trust each other more and more through the story. There are some lovely supporting characters that I found really interesting.
I loved that Salima is a fierce and strong character. She is intelligent and fearless, and when confronted with corrupt officials, she will not back down or compromise. However, towards the end of the book, I felt like she was acting out of character. Whereas I had previously admired her integrity and compassion, she began to act differently at the end. I was very disappointed in this change in her personality, and I felt that many of her actions were immoral. It’s like she was the good guy, and then suddenly changed into a villain seeking revenge.
I did not like the violence in the ending. It got really brutal and dark at the end, and I didn’t feel like it was in keeping with the rest of the story.
The problem is… I am a character-driven reader, and I really cared about Salima’s character. So I felt betrayed at the ending when she changed into this other person that was violent and vengeful. Maybe that is just me and my experience with the story. Other readers might feel that Salima was justified in her actions. I have my own moral beliefs about what is right and wrong, and this story did not align with my philosophies.
And that is why I gave this book a two-star rating, meaning “It was okay.” There were many many things that I enjoyed in this book, and I grew strongly attached to the characters.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.