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A Review of

The Belly Dancer in the Barrel of Oil

by Rebecca Newman

 

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Summary

A young woman turns to belly dancing to support herself after being abandoned by her husband. She starts in California, then makes her way to Cairo, dodging one lecherous man after another along the way. Belly Dancer in the Barrel of Oil

 

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Fact Sheet

Title

The Belly Dancer in the Barrel of Oil

Author

Rebecca Newman

ISBN

0-87212-177-1

Publisher

Libra Publishers, Inc.

Category

Fiction, Adventure

Rating

StarStarStar

Number of Pages

 

Published In

1985

 

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Description

The lead character in this book is a sexy young woman who keeps getting mixed up with the wrong kind of man.

After her worthless husband abandons her and her young children, she accepts a job as a belly dancer in a club owned by a man who makes frequent sexual advances toward her. She dodges him adroitly, but eventually reaches a point where she can't take it any more.

Next she heads for Cairo to take a job dancing in a club there, accumulating money to send home to her grandmother and children. Club life is manageable, but true to her bad luck it comes to an end and she winds up in the harem of a rich Sultan. For a time, she manages to get by without compromising herself, but eventually that too comes to an end and she seeks refuge with a terrorist who offers her the excitement of international intrigue.

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

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This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • The author's writing style is humorous and fun to read.
  • The sassy personality of the main character appeals to me.
  • Although the main character continuously entangles herself with the wrong kind of man, it's easy to appreciate the quick thinking and courage that she uses to save herself from each scrape.
  • The story is fast-paced, moving from one adventure to another.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • I didn't appreciate the portrayal of belly dancing as a sleazy, bottom-of-the-social-structure profession. I realize that's the reality of it in Egypt, but this book portrays it that way even in the U.S., in southern California.
  • The cultural references are peppered with errors. It appears the author possesses some superficial knowledge, but lacks real understanding. For example, following her first 5 nights of performing at a club in Cairo, the main character finds herself at a feast to mark the end of the month of Ramadan — a cultural error, because during Ramadan the clubs in Cairo don't feature dance performances.

 

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Conclusion

I wanted to like this book. Its resourceful heroine, series of adventures, and playful writing style are all traits that draw me to a book. However, I was dismayed at the sleazy, dismissive attitude it displays toward belly dancing as a profession, and the large number of erroneous references to Middle Eastern culture are just plain sloppy. Authors who want to write about a foreign clime should ask someone familiar with that culture to fact-check their work.

If you want to read a book about a woman's man trouble, you might enjoy this one. But if you want to read an adventure book about a belly dancer, Baby Love by Louisa Young is more appealing and better researched.

 

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Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone associated with this book.


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