teresa thornhill

The Curtain Maker of Beirut

Teresa Thornhill’s book The Curtain Maker of Beirut: Conversations with the Lebanese was published in January 2011 by Berkshire Academic Press. A PREVIEW is available here and the book is available for ORDER.

One year after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, and with the power of Hezbollah on the ascent, Teresa visits Beirut to complete her research into how the Lebanese, and in particular Lebanese women, live with their memories of Lebanon’s civil war. In conversations with housewives, intellectuals, artists and hotel cleaners, 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 Lebanese war; how they feel about each other; and how they see the Palestinian refugees who live among them.

The Palestinian Israeli conflict forms the backdrop to this portrait of a tense country, where sectarianism is never far from the surface. Many ordinary Beirutis make comments which anticipate the Israel Lebanon war which was to erupt weeks later, in July 2006.

Teresa began her travels in Lebanon in 1999 and returned with her partner and young son in 2002 and 2003. She made her final visit, unaccompanied, in 2006, following her separation from her son’s father. Themes of motherhood and separation are woven delicately into what is, in essence, a portrait of a country in the throes of the Middle East conflict.


teresa thornhill

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

“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

“Attempting to recall the complexities of Lebanon's mosaic society can be an exhausting exercise. Linguist and child lawyer Teresa Thornhill has sat down with everyone from housewives to political activists, refugees and fishermen to try and understand how ordinary Lebanese have overcome - or not - the ravages of war. In such a small society, victims and perpetrators now live side by side and in what seems to be a convenient collective amnesia. But if you scratch the surface, people's memories still conjure up vivid stories, and it is these Thornhill calls upon. Beyond the tragic war, this book and its lively chapaters is an insightful and raw look at Lebansese society and all its contradictions.” Elle magazine


Donkey Business by Teresa Thornhill

Donkey Business

Teresa Thornhill’s new novel Donkey Business is now available as an Amazon kindle.

Set in the dramatic and romantic landscape of the French Pyrenees, at the heart of the novel is Julia, an attractive, strong, and resourceful lone mum, who sets out on an adventure with her 8-year-old son Toby. Recently divorced and still grieving the death of her father, Julia is shocked when she develops an attraction for a man who provides her and Toby with accommodation at his remote and beautiful home.

Shocked at the extent to which her emotions are stirred, and sensing that they are reciprocated, she embarks on a donkey trek with her son and two companions. During the trek she battles with doubt and uncertainty: how will her son react to seeing her with a man other than his father, and is she wise to get involved in a long distance relationship? At the same time, Julia knows she’s in danger of throwing away a chance of real happiness. As she plunges deeper into the breathtaking Pyrenean landscape, and the physical challenges presented to her, she is finally able to submit to her emotions in a life-affirming resolution.

Interspersed with Julia’s narrative is that of her son, bringing his own insights to bear on the situation and showing that the child’s eye view can often provide a fresh and uncomplicated perspective. The child’s narrative provides a counterpoint to the anxieties of the adult world as well as a touching reflection of the unique relationship between a mother and son.

Read the opening three chapters for free on Teresa Thornhill's blog.

To purchase and download your copy, follow this link: Donkey Business, Amazon Kindle




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