Books

The Curtain Maker of Beirut: Conversations with the Lebanese

firefox Format: paperback
Publisher: Berkshire Academic Press
Publication date: January 2011
Category: travel / politics

It is March 2006. At the Sit-In for the Disappeared, in downtown Beirut, an old woman describes the abduction of her teenage son by the Syrians in 1978. She is still waiting to learn his fate.

For such a woman – and there are many – the trauma of the Lebanese civil war has not yet ended. In this unusual and poignant book, Teresa explores Beirut and its hinterland. She is pregnant during her first visit and returns later with her partner and young son. In conversations with housewives, intellectuals, fishermen and taxi drivers, she attempts to understand how Lebanese from the various sects which make up this small country – Druze, Christian, Shi’a and Sunni – live with their memories of the 1975 – 1990 civil war; how they feel about each other; and how they see the Palestinian refugees who live among them.

Praise for The Curtain Maker of Beirut

“An immensely rich account of sometimes harrowing conversations and encounters that add up to a history not only of events but of feelings, an entire people’s feelings.” Kanan Makiya, Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Brandeis University

'The tensions between the Lebanese and Palestinian inhabitants of Beirut is brave subject matter for any writer, but Teresa Thornhill broaches the subject with poise and, where due, respect.
Thornhill's relationship with Lebanon is complex; having visited Beirut repeatedly since 1999, she has witnessed the country's ongoing political turmoil first hand. Told through a collection of conversations, personal anecdotes and quiet observations, this is an honest account of the horrors that she has encountered - as well as the boundless hospitality, family loyalty and genuine humour. Her prose is simple, leaving the stories unadorned, while the snippets of her own personal life - often mirrored in the lives of those she meets - lend humility and perspective.' Hazel Plush, Wanderlust magazine.

Amazon customer reviews:

 by Yummy Mummy -

'What a fantastic read. I have never been compelled to write a review before, I am a thirty something working Mum who often has no time to read let alone tackle anything that requires any effort. So why did I buy this book? Truth - I loved the cover and fancied being able to have an intelligent conversation on the Middle East. I read the book in a matter of two weeks and am really sad to have finished. It was both enjoyable and easy to follow. So beautifully written it was a shear joy. I feel like I have been on holiday to Lebanon, met the people, shared their stories and somehow gained a real understanding.10/10 would strongly recommend.' -

by Philip -

'Teresa Thornhill manages to combine a description of the myriad intricacies of the various Lebanese religious and political factions with powerful personal stories from individuals caught up in some of the conflicts that have riven the country. The book is both charming in places and shocking in others, reflecting the complex issues facing Lebanon. With the extraordinary events happening today in the Middle East and North Africa, now is an opportune moment to reflect on a country which presents many of the issues facing this part of the world.'




Sweet Tea with Cardamom: a Journey through Iraqi Kurdistan

firefox Format: paperback
Publication date: February 1997
Publisher: Pandora
Category: Travel / human rights

After the Gulf War in 1991, the Kurds of Iraq rose against Saddam Hussein’s genocidal regime. Their brave but short-lived rebellion led to the setting up of the Safe Havens in northern Iraq. During those heady but precarious days, Teresa Thornhill journeyed twice to Iraqi Kurdistan. She travelled widely with her peshmerga guard, spending time with displaced villagers, widows of the genocidal Anfal campaign, members of the newly-formed Kurdistan regional government and a handful of Kurdish intellectuals. Teresa sought out and met many Kurdish women, including survivors of the 1988 poison gas attacks on Halabja which were masterminded by ‘Chemical Ali’ (Ali Hasan al Majid, later executed after the fall of Saddam) and a mother who was prepared to describe her role in the honour killing of her own daughter.

Teresa found herself deeply moved by the Kurds she met. Sweet Tea with Cardamom: a Journey through Iraqi Kurdistan records with insight and passion the land, the people and the struggle at a unique moment in the fight for a free Kurdistan.

Praise for Sweet Tea with Cardamom

‘The passion and poignancy of these stories, brought to life through Thornhill’s warm, descriptive prose, make this book hard to put down.’ US Library Journal

‘Teresa Thornhill travelled around Iraqi Kurdistan in 1993 during its brief experiment with democracy. Sweet Tea with Cardamom is partly travelogue and partly a record of conversations she had with the survivors of Saddam’s atrocities.’ The Observer

‘Deeply moving and beautifully written. The pain and exuberance of Thornhill’s encounters shine through every chapter of this book.’ Kanan Makiya, Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Brandeis University




Praise for Donkey Business - a Pyrenean Adventure of the Heart

firefox Format: Kindle ebook
Publisher: self-published
Publication date: October 2013
Category: women's commercial fiction

5.0 out of 5 stars Donkey Business
by Freewheeling -

‘A beautifully penned story which takes you straight to the heart of the Pyrenees and of those who travel there. Made me want to pack my bags and find a donkey to tell secrets to. The characters were as real and compelling as the stunning landscape they travelled in.

‘Teresa Thornhill writes with a delicate clarity which leads you through the story and gives a real insight into the touching relationship between a single mother and her son. It charts the various adult relationships that the mother, Julia, is trying to navigate. The chapters are interspersed with eight year old Toby's musings. His voice is fresh and honest and his simple and yet sometimes `wiser than the adults' outlook offers an interesting counterbalance to some of his mother's anxieties.’

5.0 out of 5 stars Love in High Places
by Scottie -

‘An unashamedly escapist novel set in the grandeur of the Pyrenees, Donkey Business is also an insightful novel about the dilemmas facing modern woman - not only the practicalities of being a single mum with an enthusiastic and curious eight year old son, but also the emotional stuff, such as what to do when you think you might be falling in love. And what woman in her right mind wouldn't fall in love with dark, sultry, wild-haired Frenchman, Luc, her host prior to setting off on an ambitious three week trek with her son? However, Julia hasn't always, in the past, made the best decisions over her lovers, and now she has her son Toby to consider too. And there's the fact that Luc lives at the top of a mountain in France while she lives in Manchester. Her dilemma is further complicated when she finds a photograph of a beautiful woman amongst Luc's papers scattered on the kitchen table. How ridiculous, she thinks, to assume that he would even be free!

‘When Julia, Toby and two companions set off on their trek, accompanied by Couscous and Duc, the redoubtable donkeys carrying their kit, she couldn't know that disaster will strike and that Toby will be instrumental in helping his mum find true happiness.

‘A great read with a wonderful cast of picaresque characters - including the donkeys, each of which has a distinctive character - Donkey Business is a lovely, satisfying, modern romance, as well as a tender depiction of the loving relationship between a mother and son, seen from both their perspectives. Highly recommended!’

4.0 out of 5 stars A good read - mountains - walking - love
by The walking man -
‘What I enjoyed most about Terersa Thornhill's latest book was the interplay between the Julia, the mum, and her son Toby. Toby's frank and sometimes cheeky descriptions of his mother's faults contrasts with Julia's determination and love. The setting of the Pyranean foothills and the comic but loveable donkeys bring lots of character and interest to the story. Not to mention the love affair which develops throughout the narrative. I really want to go and walk some of the wooded paths Julia describes. A book I enjoyed and would recommend to other readers.’




Making Women Talk

firefox Format: paperback
Publication date: October 1992
Publisher: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Category: human rights

In the early days of the first Palestinian intifada (uprising), Teresa spent a year living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Drawing on her training as a criminal barrister, she met with Palestinian women activists who had been detained and interrogated by the Israelis. She also spoke with a handful of Israeli women activists who had been interrogated for pro-Palestinian activities.

Her self-imposed project was to document interrogation methods which had been specifically developed to target the vulnerabilities of these detainees as women and mothers. While tests of physical endurance were commonplace, it was the psychological pressure to which the women were deliberately subjected which shocked Teresa the most, opening her eyes to the cruelty of the occupation.

Praise for Making Women Talk

‘These interviews provide a unique insight into the harrowing consequences of Israeli security police methods.’ Dr Haleh Afshar, Dept of Politics and Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York

‘The evidence of the exploitation of the vulnerabilities of female detainees is disturbing.’ Francoise Hampson, Dept of Law, University of Essex

‘… important and well-researched’ Eric Goldstein, Research Director, Middle East Watch




The Curtain Maker of Beirut: Conversations with the Lebanese

firefox Format: paperback
Publisher: Berkshire Academic Press
Publication date: January 2011
Category: travel / politics

Sweet Tea with Cardamom: a Journey through Iraqi Kurdistan

firefox Format: paperback
Publication date: February 1997
Publisher: Pandora
Category: Travel / human rights

Donkey Business: a Pyrenean Adventure of the Heart

firefox Format: Kindle ebook
Publisher: self-published
Publication date: October 2013
Category: women's commercial fiction

Making Women Talk: the interrogation of Palestinian Women Detainees

firefox Format: paperback
Publication date: October 1992
Publisher: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Category: human rights