The Abaya Chronicles
Reviewed by Marissa Libbit for Reader Views (1/11)
“The Abaya Chronicles” by Tina Lesher is the fictional account of many women from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The “Abaya” in the title is the long garment worn over the everyday clothes of a UAE woman. The author relates modern day experiences of women in the UAE and compares them with times past. The stories unfold between women of the UAE as well as with foreign women living there. Farah Abdullah al Matari, a 60ish-year-old woman recalls how life has changed in the UAE since oil was discovered and much money poured into the country. Tired of being a pampered rich woman, she seeks to become more independent and in the process also becomes more modern. She is impressed with the stories of her children and grandchildren who pave new paths for women in the UAE. Whether attending university, playing sports, or acquiring their own spouses, modern UAE women live different lives than those from Farah’s youth.
Ms. Lesher is clear in her introduction that she wants the reader to appreciate the modern women of the UAE, to be both educated and entertained. She has done well to educate the reader as to the differences between women of the past in that region compared to the modern woman there. Several advances have been made, and while still trying to respect the traditions of their past, many women have embraced modern values as well in things like choosing their own mates for marriage, starting businesses, and going to college. As a story, “The Abaya Chronicles” failed to excite me as there was little drama or conflict. However, Ms. Lesher accomplished her goal quite well. I am more educated about an area of the world of which I knew little, and her likable characters create a very positive impression of the UAE.