Through the Palace Keyhole

Through the doors of The Palace Hotel came a succession of well-known faces, including many of the power brokers and éminences gris of the Middle Eastern conflict. Ann Sawalha tells the remarkable story of her life, including dealing with the cultural and linguistic challenges, Israeli occupation and political upheavals.

‘An incredible journey’  Sally Bland, The Jordan Times

In hardback and paperback.


From the Arab world comes a story of the love between an Arab man and an American woman which lasted more than half a century. In 1958, Sami Sawalha took his young bride to his Jordanian homeland. Uprooted from all that was familiar to her, Ann faced the cultural and linguistic challenges head on and began to assimilate herself into her husband’s tribe – a proud and ancient Bedouin people who trace their roots to before the coming of Islam. Building up the family hotel business on both sides of the Jordan River posed even greater challenges: the lack of privacy in living cheek by jowl with relatives in half-built hotels, bringing up a family under Israeli occupation, constantly under threat during the on-going strife in the region, the shortage of basic amenities and services, and their love repeatedly tested by their own contrasting cultures and attitudes. As their business prospered, through the doors of The Palace Hotels came a succession of well-known faces, including many of the power brokers and éminences gris of the Middle Eastern conflict. Ann Sawalha, an accute observer of human nature, tells the story of her life with Sami with love and humour. Set against the backdrop of the momentous political upheavals of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, it is a compelling memoir. The family’s hotels survive as a tribute to Sami’s dreams and strength, and Ann’s unwavering determination to support him.

Additional information

Dimensions 22.8 × 15.2 cm

9781909339354 (Hardback)

9781909339347 (Paperback)


27 November 2014


Hardback, Paperback

2 reviews for Through the Palace Keyhole

  1. Sally Bland

    “…the touching story of two strong-willed, inventive and endearing personalities.”

    Ann Sawalha’s memoir tells many stories, all of them spin-offs from the 50-year-long love story which began when she met Sami Sawalha in the Detroit Hospital where she was training as a nurse. Their love led her into marriage and a new life in Jordan, and weathered the storms of cultural differences, family crises and recurring regional crises from the 1950s into the 2000s.

    Substantial slices of history are woven into the story, whether of the Sawalhas or Azzizat, or the successive wars in the region from Palestine to the invasion of Iraq. Ann’s memoir also chronicles the making of modern Jordan as she lived the transition from a time when material life was much simpler, and women never went to banks, much less worked in them, to the Jordan we know today.

    An incredible journey by Sally Bland, The Jordan Times – Dec 07, 2014

  2. Margarita Skinner

    Ann Sawalha’s book is a very rare and unique portrayal of the life of a lady of discernment new to Jordan, married to a businessman with a long family history involved in the life of the people of the country with a different culture to the one she knew in her first home. The book tells movingly of her growing family and how she fits in with understanding to a different rich culture. She faces with courage and family support the terrors of war and military occupation. The value of life is constantly reinforced every day. To her readers she brings a feeling of hope in every facet of human life for understanding the Middle East and particularly the country and people of Jordan. This is a must read.

    Margarita Skinner,
    author of Between Despair and Hope, Windows on my Middle East Journey 1967-1992 and former Health and Welfare official, and Roy Skinner, author of Jerusalem to Baghdad, selected letters 1967 – 1992 and former United Nations Military Peacekeeper and in Diplomatic service.

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