Alexandra Singer’s new book Tea at the Grand Tazi, is a dervish of underground secrets and a story full of twists and turns that take you through the rough streets of Morocco, a place where few people dare to leave the main drag. The journey unfolds as Maia is referred to an old colleague of her professor and winds up staying at the once glorious Grand Tazi hotel. Maia wants to be an artist, as she wanders the hustling streets she is determined to paint the women of a culture that so often mistreats them as commodities rather than people. As Maia begins her trials with getting close to these women, she finds herself sucked into the secret life of her boss, as well as the expatriates who frequent the Grand Tazi. After various journeys and multiple discoveries, Maia learns that the chance of escape from the world can sometimes lead to anything but freedom.
The text itself reads fairly quick and easy. The author does an exceptional job of bringing in characters much like a rush during an outing to the Moroccan markets. Singer introduces us with vivid descriptions and true clarity in terms of personae. This isn’t as easy as it sounds with the amount of interaction weaving between characters in multiple layers. The prose flows easily and captures the scenery with great quality. We can related to Maia as she is searching for something more from her life, after all, don’t we all wish to escape from time to time? The book turns in the catacombs within its pages and it begs the reader to come along. We are often taken off guard at what we assume is a familiar plot line, until Singer takes it and twists it with a new character appearing, or an element of surprise.
All in all the book reads smoothly, provides a solid story line, and when you are finished you feel as if you had a cup of the famous mint tea that can only be found within the confines of the Grand Tazi hotel.