Other People’s Houses by Hilary McPhee
At one time, Hilary McPhee’s life was in upheaval and she was struggling with the illness and death of her parents, a bout of cancer and the end of a long marriage. It was a period of deep desolation and loneliness. Then, out of the blue, she was contacted by an old friend with whom she’d played high-school hockey. They had pursued separate lives; McPhee as a publisher, an author and a stint as chair of the Australia Council. Her friend had also had a varied career, but was then working for a member of the Jordanian royal family and this friend told Hilary that she might hear from them.
And Hilary did; Prince Hassan needed some help with a book he was writing and asked if she could come to Jordan to discuss it. Knowing little of Jordan or the Prince, she read what she could get her hands on and the palace sent speeches and writings. After a meeting with the prince in Amman, Hilary was retained, although it was never quite clear what that meant. She relocated to Cortona in Italy to be closer to Jordan and so began almost four years of working with the prince and the Jordanian royal family before her time with them abruptly ended.
In Other People’s Houses we learn about the Middle East, but we also learn about an incredibly smart, creative woman in her later middle age and how she learns to navigate a new life. This is an inspiring book.