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Tolstoy in Riyadh: A Story of a Teacher and Her Muse    by Chris Cryer order for
Tolstoy in Riyadh
by Chris Cryer
Order:  USA  Can
Daniel & Daniel, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Tolstoy had a favorite place. Chechnya. Author Chris Cryer's is Arabia. When Cryer signs a year's contract to teach in King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, she likens her adventure to Tolstoy's in that their favorites are both Muslim areas and the cultures vary so much from what they knew prior to arriving in those locations.

Cryer arrives in Riyadh to find that the University is not really ready for her; she has no assignment. Not to be outdone, she makes a place for herself. She and her young teenage son manage to escape housing at the college and fit themselves into Riyadh itself to live and work.

Their acceptance of the culture so very different from what they knew before is a story of resilience and fortitude. They, in essence, become a part of the town and find their own way in a life so very different than the one to which they were accustomed. Their story is a lesson for all of us.

Different cultures can and should at least acknowledge each other and combine energies to bringing peace to the world. Would that that would happen.

Tolstoy in Riyadh is a very thought provoking account of a year in the life of a mother and son and how they coped with the differences entailed by being in Arabia during a school year. People can be adaptable as these two prove, time and again. Their story offers a refreshing slant on the Muslim world, and one that gives us all hope.

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