What Critics are saying as of November, 2008
-A Thrilling Moroccan Tale! I sat up until two this morning reading The Brides' Fair! Couldn't put it down! It's so well-constructede-weaving together all the different strands of the story, each of which contains possibilities which might emerge, tantalizes the reader with clues, and then ties them together at the end with surprises you never thought of!
One senses that the author has really lived it on the ground and knows whereof he writes. With all the authentic insights into foreign intrigue, terrorism, and the romance of the diplomatic life, exotic sex and shoot-em-up violence-it's surely a winner!
Robert Mark Ward, Chevy Chase, MD, USA
-Set in a beautiful, remote part of Africa, The Brides' Fair takes us to visit a traditional Berber festival. There's an extended cast of diplomats, expats, Moroccan officials and mountain people whose lives end up interwoven in a complex tale of intrigue and danger. Descriptions of the region vie with the developing plot to keep us absorbed and mystified. Although the book is fiction, it gives an authentic peek into the interactions within an Embassy in a developing country. A winner!
.S.CDonlon, "world traveler" Sarasota, Florida
-I just finished your book and I loved it! I love the way you captured the expat personalities and especially the enlisted men as well as the career diplomats. You have clearly lived the life!!! There was an article about the High Atlas Mountains in a recent Saudi Aramco World(Magazine) and you captured the feeling of them perfectly! You should be very proud of it!
Elizabeth Comer, Baltimore Maryland
-I hasten to congratulate you on THE BOOK, a great success and a compulsive page turner. Well done! But most of all thank you for having as the hero that most maligned, misunderstood and scorned species, the DCM( Deputy Chief of Mission) A blow for the downtrodden.
Alas, I shared none of Eric's(the central character) sterling attributes and certainly not his attraction for beautiful women and adventure.
The Honorable Peter Moffat, Hancock, New Hampshire
-A marvelous adventure set in Morocco's Mid Atlas mountains.The plot unfolds quietly, steadily and dramatically, leading to an exciting conclusion. The author blends an intimate understanding of the U.S. diplomatic community with a rich presentation of Islamic historical references, and-stay seated-a terrorist plot. What makes the combination work so well, apart from the author's beautiful descriptive passages about Morocco--its history and its people-is the array of characters whom the reader meets. I especially enjoyed the resolute courage and conviction, from different perspectives of the young women: Maleka, Jamila, Karen, Monique, and of course Kachou, the Berber bride. In sum: a most enjoyable read.
Ronald Springwater, Washington DC
I absolutely could not put the book down once I started. The author managed like a consumate juggler to keep 3 balls of action deftly in play. The picture of the insiude workings of the American Embassy personnel indeed rang true.Terrific great action for a movie version, don't we wish.
Esther H. Beaumont, Burke, Virginia
.... .... . In this novel of international intrigue, Americans, mountain Berbers, Moroccan Berbers and a rebel group all converge on the festival (The Brides' Fair). The mystery centers on a possible act of terrorism and contains various subplots, including many efforts to halt the terrorist act, a young bride's struggle to escape an arranged marriage, American love interests, the efforts of local officials to contain the disaster, and the obstacles faced by the terrorist group bent on disrupting the fair. Disaster is averted at the last minute by a startling revelation. The story unfolds steadily, moved along by the author's authentic insights into both the diplomatic community and Islamic history.
The Foreign Service Journal, November 2008
The setting is present day Mid Atlas Mountains of North Africa. The Brides' Fair is an annual event. However, this one would be very different. Hal Fleming weaves the threads of a terrorist threat with various sub plots to create a riveting novel. Can the terrorists be stopped? The Brides' Fair, a complex tale of conspiracy. I had to remind myself that this is a work of fiction. Hal Fleming is a talented author. I will be watching for more of his books.
5 Stars, Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, December 2008
.....The Brides' Fair provides an accurate, close-up view of the subject matter not always found in works of fiction, since the author was intimately familiar with not only the Brides' Fair ritual itself, but with diplomatic life, as well as the frequent, convoluted interplay between local demands that sometimes were opposed to American foreign policy......
GLOBAL LINK, Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide, April 2009
In the American Embassy in Rabat, a group of staff and their families depart for a two day visit to the mountains. The occasion is the famous Brides' Fair of Imichil, where young Berber girls assemble once a year, decked out in their mid-Atlas finery, to choose themselves husbands.......Fleming gives us short but realistic impressions of his characters. We have the Gunny, the senior Marine at post, who is a hard-drinking disillusioned guy nearing retirement and beginning to wonder if he has any future ahead of him.His wife is an Asian whom he met while serving in that part of the world and, we assume, rescued by him from a refugee camp. He often vents his unhappiness on her, lashing out with his fists. Dalton is a serious and successuful mid-level officer whose dedication to his job has earned him a senior position at the Embassy, but may have lost him his wife and family, who have recently packed up and gone back to America, claiming that they no longer have any private life. The Consular Officer, Cynthia Dennis, is an attractive widow who has been close friends with both Daltons since her husband died two years after their marriage. Monique Addleman, a thirty-something teacher of English as a Foreign Language, has hitched a ride with these Embassy personnel and is just ending an affair with a former student, Rachid, who she suspects is involved in radical protests....Meanwhile in the south, the four young Moroccans(rebels), fully armed and carrying bombs, are making their way to Imichil too......Twists and turns keep the suspense tight. The author's depiction of the young studen(rebels), as well as the Berber girls at the fair show sympathetic insights into the motivations of these Moroccans. Morocco lovers or readers who have been involved in Embassy life will enjoy this novel and find Fleming's characters familiar...
by Diane Skelly Ponasik, author of Tangier, a novel.
The Brides' Fair, a work of fiction by a seasoned diplomat and world traveler, Hal Fleming, brings to life and ancient ritual practiced in today's Morocco-and witnessed by the author during his five years in that North African country. Weaving the stories of American and other foreign diplomats, young girls destined to be brides (often against their will), and Moroccan police and counter-terrorist personnel, Fleming has the divergent groups converge on the site of the annual fair.
It is this interplay of sometimes-opposing forces that impressed the reviewer in the prestigious Foreign Service Journal to write: "The story unfolds steadily, moved along by the author's authenic insights into both the diplomatic community and Islamic history."
The Brides' Fair provides an accurate, close-up view of the subject matter not always found in works of fiction since the author was intimately familiar with not only the Brides' Fair ritual itself but with diplomatic life as well as the frequent, convoluted interplay between local demands that sometimes were opposed to American foreign policy.
Enriching the plot are various love interests, the often challenging interplay bewteen American diplomats and the struggles among the terrorists and their hatred of anyone-foreign or Moroccan-who is not siding with their cause.
Fleming, now a retired Foreign Service Officer, served in several countries in northern and western Africa, with the US Department of State, the Agency for International Deveolpment, Peace Corps, and the US Mission to the United Nations as well as UNICEF. These experiences plus missions to 20 other African countries and assignments in Asia and the Pacific region provide Fleming rich experiences for his short stories, novels and poetry....More information on the author can be found on his web site at www.HalFlem.com. The book is available through bookstores and various book web sites.
MoroccoBoard.Com/MoroccoBoard News Service 5/09