Shadow of the Rock
The biggest challenge in writing this novel was the lack of information about 18th century Morocco. The author used as main sources two contemporary accounts of traveling in Morocco both originally published in 1792. The first, Travail in an Arab Land, was written by a Jewish scholar, Samuel Romanelli. A translation of this work was recently published by the University of Alabama. The second, A Tour From Gibraltar, was written by William Lempriere, an English physician who was sent to Morocco at the request of the Moroccan king who needed a doctor for his family. In exchange for the physician's services, the king released the captain and crew of an English vessel that had sunk off the coast of Morocco.
I traveled throughout Florida, St. Thomas, Gibraltar, and Morocco tracking down the story of David Levy Yulee's grandmother. Had she really been captured by pirates? I took a course about pirates at our local community college and learned that the Barbary pirates were often descendants of Moors ousted from Spain along with the Jews in 1492. Another interesting tidbit of information came from the Antiques Roadshow. A pistol was brought in that was identified as having once belonged to a Barbary pirate. I used the description in the book. More information on the writing of Shadow of the Rock can be read at my blog.
Book Group Discussion Questions
- What are the parallels in the stories of Rachel and Sara?
- What examples of tyranny and oppression are described?
- What do you think of Jefferson's quote: "Religion with power in its hands is the worst kind of tyrant."
- What do you think the women in the harem were really like? The author used sources written by men.
- When people are dispossessed of property and possessions by conquering armies or new policies, what do you think they should do? What are ways characters in the book attempt to deal with it?
- Rachel is forced into marriage. How right is she to withhold commitment to it? What do you think of Adam Mohammed? Is he a believable character?