Tuesday 2 June 2009

Cinnamon City by Miranda Innes

Pages - 363
Published by Black Swan in 2005
Challenges - 100+ and Non Fiction Five
This has to be the funniest non fiction book I have ever read. I picked it up purely by accident as I have started to take a keen interest in travel journals and the story behind this book seemed just too interesting to leave on the shelf.
This is the personal journey of Miranda in the quest to purchase a very old and long neglected riad (a house with a garden in the centre of it) in the centre of the magical pink walled city of Marrakech and to turn into a holiday home. Miranda and her long suffering partner Dan, an artist and illustrator, fall in love with Marrakech after helping their friend Maggie buy a riad to turn into a guest house. They fall in love with the friendly people, the souks (outdoor markets) full of spices and clothes such as kameez ( Asian cotton tunics) and babouches (soft slippers). The smells from the restaurants and cafes constantly had their mouths watering. They knew from their first visit, they wanted to spend more time in the wonderful city.
So after investing all the money they had in a property, the restoration work begins. Only then do they realise that nothing runs smoothly in Marrakech and a project that should have taken six months to complete turns into over a year, scattered with difficulties and money worries. Though eventually the property is finished and it became all they dreamed it would be.
This is a fantastic book, the descriptions evoke visions of colour and life and send your senses into overdrive. My mouth watered as I read about tagines and how they were cooked, as well as lots of different couscous dishes and not to mention mint tea, a firm favourite in Marrakech.
Miranda's descriptions of life and the people in Marrakesh are very humorous and definitely entertaining. She comes across as the type of person you would like to sit down and share a cocktail and a conversation with. If she talks as elaborately as she writes, you know you would be completely entertained.
The characters come alive in her book, Khaled, the manager of the riad, sounds like one of the most wonderful and most patient people you would ever meet. Abteldif, his brother in law, is a very colourful character desperate to Westernise his lifestyle.
Also within the book, there are some beautiful illustrations, depicting scenes from the riad and the souks. They are just as detailed as the descriptions of what can only be described as a magical city.
This book will make you fall in love with Marrakesh and want to visit it. Up until reading this book, Marrakesh had merely been a word used to name a city, but now it conjures up such beautiful visions of lemon trees, spices, ranges of pigment inks, henna and wonderful people, that I imagine myself hopping on a plane and going to visit.
Miranda Innes is formerly the editor of Country Living and in 1997, she gave up her life in England and bought a property in Spain, where she still resides. She has previously written one other travel book called 'Getting to Manana', which tells the story of her purchase of her Spanish home. Miranda has also written a range of design and craft books too. Miranda Innes is the sister of Jocasta Innes,a very famous designer known around the world for her books on design and paint finishes..
Once Miranda had finished the building work on her property in Marrakesh, she opened it to the public as a guest house. If you click here, you will be able to see the property and details about booking accommodation.
If you wish to read more about Miranda and her partner Dan, you find information on her website here.
This a fabulous book, that kept me thoroughly entertained and is definitely worth a read. I haved learnt so much about Marrakesh through the pages of this book, that I feel I would easily be able to blend in with the surroundings if I visited it. I will definitely be searching out 'Getting To Manana', as I am certain it will be an entertaining read.


  1. Fabulous review! It made me want to go therem NOW. I love books that whisk you away to another world where the descriptions are so lush, you feel that you truly are in that world. Glad you enjoyed it so much. Have a great week.

  2. Oh this book sounds incredible! Adding to to my Good Reads list now!!

  3. I'd love a funny book, and I read way too little non-fiction

  4. This books sounds so good. I have to add it to my TBR.

  5. i love, love, love travel writing. you have sucked me in with this book--i haven't heard of it and am dying for a new travel read.

    have you read any bill bryson? he's my favorite travel writer. i wish he would adopt me and tell me stories all day long.

  6. I never read non-fiction, but I know if I tried some travel writing, I'd love it. Marrakech sounds like a fun place to read about, definately!

  7. I've never heard of this before but it sounds so good. I'll have to see if I can find it here.

  8. This sounds fascinating! Like Michelle, I just know I'd love travel writing. I love travelling and learning about new cultures, so what's not to like?

  9. Oh, I really like the sounds of this book! It is definitely going straight to the wish list! Though I must admit I'm now going to have the song "Marrakesh Express" playing in my head for days...but that's okay, I like the song. :)

  10. It does sound like fun! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  11. cute cover and great review, glad you enjoyed it ;O) I love it when a book makes me want to visit the place it is set in.

  12. Amazing review. And I love the cover! The book sounds fascinating and I like how you said the characters "come alive" in the book and how easy it would be to fall in love with Marrakesh.

  13. Hi! I'm Dan, Miranda's long suffering partner (now husband) and would like to say hello to all fans of 'Cinnamon City' (I did the drawings) and tell you that I am now managing Riad Maizie (after a disastrous series of useless managers) and teach painting and yoga.
    I am so happy to be living in Marrakech and Italy- just hope we can afford it!

    You can also read my 'Depression' comic novel on danpearcecomix.com

  14. Thank you for such wonderful reviews of my wife's book!
    I am the 'long suffering' Dan mentioned in the blurb and I drew the pictures and took the photo of Miranda.
    And NOW I'm the manager and semi-permanent resident of Riad Maizie and I give painting lessons and yoga advice. I love it here and look forward to meeting Miranda's fans.
    Now we have very special offers on rooms from 45 euros for double room!


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