The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten

MoroccoIndependent-minded Sibylla Spencer feels trapped in nineteenth-century London, where her strong will and progressive views have rendered her unmarriageable. Still single at twenty-three, she is treated like a child and feels stifled in her controlling father’s house.

When Benjamin Hopkins, an ambitious employee of her father’s trading company, shows an interest in her, she realizes marriage is her only chance to escape. As Benjamin’s rising career whisks them both away to exotic Morocco, Sibylla is at last a citizen of the world, reveling in her newfound freedom by striking her first business deals, befriending locals…and falling in love for the first time with a charismatic and handsome Frenchman.

But Benjamin’s lust for money and influence draws him into dark dealings, pulling him ever further from Sibylla and their two young sons. When he’s arrested on horrible charges, the fate of Sibylla’s family rests on her shoulders, as she must decide whether she’ll leave him to his fate or help him fight for his life.


Morocco.  I am so happy that I finally got to read a book set in Northern Africa, Morocco! This has to be one of the most exotic countries in our continent. Even the name sounds striking. Having only been to countries in East Africa, I have always been intrigued by the Western and Northern countries especially and the Southern..okay, all of Africa intrigues me and I want to travel everywhere. I remember my friend visiting Morocco in 2013 and telling about the food and culture. It sounded like quite a beautiful place. Morocco makes me think about veiled belly dancers, the desert and spiced tea. The setting of this book is the first thing that I saw and it’s the reason why I decided to read The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten . I have never read any books set in Morocco and I couldn’t miss the chance to read about the country and especially the culture.

I didn’t know that this was historical fiction until I read the first page and saw that the story was set in the 1800s. It begins with Sibylla in England. Right from the first chapter, she is portrayed as a conspicuous woman. Not just in the looks department but also due to her strong personality. The world at that time was male dominated but SIbylla still found a way to make her voice heard. Soon after her marriage, she finds a way to convince her father to let her move to Morocco with her husband to oversee his business interests in the country.

Morocco portrayed in this book is just as I imagined. The rich culture of the Arabic and Berber people came alive in the story. I liked the descriptions of the ethnic groups and their dressing. Especially the veiled Arab women who only revealed their faces behind closed doors or in company of other women. I liked the idea of harems. A house where the Muslim women spent time together. Islam is the main faith in the country and the religion was at the backdrop of the story. For instance, Muezzin calling Muslim faithful for prayers was constantly mentioned.  Then there was the tea and even shisha. And to my delight, the belly dancers were also mentioned. I really liked the setting of this book. The authors did an amazing job with describing it so vividly that I was transported there.  The only thing that I didn’t like was the slavery. I understand that slaves were part of history  but I still cringed whenever the word was used.


I have seen images of Eassaouira(Mogador in this book). I didn’t know about the Moroccan town until reading this book.Interesting, my imagination was almost on point this town. The town is as I imagined it as I read the book. Especially in the first image.

The book covers a longtime frame. It spans over a period of almost 25 years. This means that we get to meet different generations and also get to see the setting change over time. The characters were well developed and memorable. I especially liked the female characters. Sibylla is a one to admire. Her strength and wisdom earned her the title lioness of Morocco. That and plus the fact that she had blonde hair which the locals compared with a lion’s mane. Different women in the book were portrayed as being quite brave. For instance; when mixed religion marriages were forbidden, it took the strength of women to fight against this ‘taboo’. I liked this portrayal of women especially given the setting of the book where male dominance was revered. However, these ladies showed bravery and were able to change things whenever change was needed.

The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten is a book that I recommend to everyone. The setting is amazing and the authors did a fantastic job with developing the story against this exotic backdrop. In addition, they had carried out a lot of research hence making the setting quite realistic. For instance; the characters live at Magador which is a modern day, Coastal town known as Essaouira. Some of the historic events that took place in the town are part of this story. The storytelling is impeccable. The events are vividly described, characters well developed; there is conflict, an unforgiving desert, a little romance (and tea and dancers). I just loved everything about this book.

Read this book. In the meantime, let me have some spiced tea and practice belly dancing as I dream of traveling to Morocco. A girl can dream.

18 thoughts on “The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten

  1. The Lioness of Morocco sounds like the perfect escapism! I love that it spans over 25 years so you can follow an entire pan of history. Great review!

  2. Love family sagas! “let me have some spiced tea and practice belly dancing as I dream of traveling to Morocco” hahaha I want that too!

    1. Thanks Laila. Yes this was my first book set in Morocco and it really was the perfect read. If you ever want to read anything set there then I definitely recommend it 🙂

    1. Hey Jasmine, yes this was an emotional read though it was quite a thrill for most of the part. I really did like the setting the most though. The slavery is in the background so its not really tackled much but its still tough to read about it.

  3. A few comments: I haven’t read this book, but I also like that the call to prayer is mentioned many times. Oftentimes, authors forget to include something very common to life, which I think cheapens the story. Forgetting to mention personal technology is common. The call to prayer is even more important. Also, I mostly her about Morocco in the context of the European experience. People will travel from Europe to the country because they are so close. It’s nice that your book was from a different point of view, thought I understand the main character is also English. Finally, what do you think of the cover? She’s not blonde (based on her eyebrows), and the photo looks so contemporary, not 1800s!

    1. That is an interesting observation.I didn’t think much about the cover but you are right. Its not the MC but perhaps one of the Berber women because they used to veiled and always wore kohl around their eyes although they also had facial markings. The cover doesn’t seem to relate much to the story though.

      Yeah the authors did a brilliant job with the setting. They give details of common things that enriched the description of Morocco. For instance; I found it interesting that Shisha was mentioned a lot of times since its part of the culture/lifestyle.

        1. Oh wow, your friend is lucky. I hope she/he will enjoy Morocco. Would be interesting to see how someone who has visited the country compares it to how its represented in the book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s