House of Stone will warm your heart, and leave you just a little melancholy at the same time.
Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid loses himself and then finds something in the relic of his ancestral home in Marjayoun, Lebanon.
When reconstrucion commenced Shadid was one of the best-known and certainly most-travelled journalists of his generation focusing his energy on the Middle East. He fiinds himself at the proverbial crossroads.
Entering his 40s with his marriage failing and then ending, his relationship with his wife and daughter becomes too strained as they all pay the price for his globe-trotting reporting.
Reeling, he makes his way to Marjayoun to reclaim the house built by his great-grandfather Isber Samara.
The home, literally a house of stone, has been unoccupied for years and before being abandoned had been used variously by squatters, refugees and perhaps even a spy during the frequent tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.
Locals are suspicious, relatives unsupportive and war threatens in the background.
Shadid's tale is more than simply a chronicle as he records the irony of rebuilding a home in the midst of warring and searches for meaning in a home designed and built to take its place inthe Ottoman Empire – even as that empire fell. The home, perhaps like some of us, is out of place in a world that didn't exist when the structure was begun.
But waxing nostalgic is not Shadid's intent as much as recounting history for its value is. Empire had meaning and the resultant vacuum has none.
Anecdotes about the constant stuggle between Shadid's Western sense of time and the local notion of tomorrow are included yet Shadid's story is not a simple one. History, geo-politics, ecomomy and cultural identity all collide more than combine to produce this timeline of hope, weariness and uncertainty.
Shadid seeks to understand but not to recapture.
Tinged with an undertone of sadness throughout as if the author knows should he ever find what he is looking for he will be forced to give it up almost as quickly this is a compelling account of a man in search.
Find some quiet time to read House of Stone. It is the search we all undertake for to create meaning in our lives and our histories.