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Monday, July 21, 2008

Highly Recommended Reading: "The End of Manners" by Francesca Marciano

The End of Manners, by Francesca Marciano (2008 Random House).

At age 32, Italian photojournalist Maria Galante is burned-out after a relationship failed and her job photographing sad stories made her "feel like a thief, intruding on people's grief ." She takes professional refuge working as a food photographer until a surge of competitive adrenalin pushes her to accept an assignment working in Afghanistan with reporter Imo Glass. The story the two want to get is on Afghan women and arranged marriages.

In this enjoyable novel, author Francesca Marciano successfully lays out more than just the expected tension arising from the difficulties faced by two professional women from the west seeking to photograph and interview women in conservative, war-torn Afghan society. Marciano captures the camaraderie that arises among professionals doing a job under difficult and dangerous circumstances. She provokes new thinking about large, but well-worn issues, such as the roles of men and women in society. In addition, Marciano's story makes effective use of the small tensions that exist within an individual, such as the excitement of travel and the longing to be home, and the press of universal worries about love and life, even when living in a country where kidnapping and violence may be just around a turn in the road.

Marciano's writing is a pleasure to read. The plot of The End of Manners moves briskly, with delightful and vivid descriptions seamlessly integrated into the narrative. This book is highly recommended reading.

A small bug makes its way on a big flower. Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin.

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