Susan M. Sandover’s memoir plunges the reader into a wild adventure of passion and terror in Gaddafi’s Libya

Libya. A love lived, a life betrayed follows Susan, who was lucky enough to have chosen an enlightened, forward-thinking Libyan career diplomat, Bashir, to spend her life with. They supported each other through the traumas, difficulties, and frankly terrifying experiences associated with the Gaddafi regime of US and NATO bombings. 

Her love story, which spans several decades and continents, stemmed from a simple blog post. “After the death of my husband I wrote a blog and within 12 hours I received over 6,000 hits and numerous requests for the story to be expanded,” explains Susan, who now lives in London. “2014 saw small seeds beginning to germinate in my mind that there were people who wanted to learn of my story, and this year I began writing.”

Libya. A love lived, a life betrayed follows Susan, who was lucky enough to have chosen an enlightened, forward-thinking Libyan career diplomat, Bashir, to spend her life with. They supported each other through the traumas, difficulties, and frankly terrifying experiences associated with the Gaddafi regime of US and NATO bombings, coups, a revolution and a blasphemy case but also enjoyed years of good times together.

The resulting stories are partially his, partially hers and partially theirs. Sadly, before he found the time or a safe place to write down his experiences in the Libyan diplomatic corps and to denounce the Gaddafi regime, Bashir died. In spite of his family’s efforts to destroy their relationship and appropriate his land during his illness, he made sure Susan had a safe place to live. It was only when Susan was alone that she experienced the full force of Sharia inheritance law and its tenets as applied to widows: she was entitled to one quarter of his property, the balance going to his siblings, hence the subtitle of the book 9/36. Susan’s life was never dull with Bashir: at times, spine chilling, but always filled with love and happiness.

Through all of these stories and many more, Susan displays her vast insider knowledge on Libya’s political, social and cultural history together with details on the final year of the Gaddafi regime. The remaining chapters comment on post-revolutionary Libya and the missed opportunities for reconciliation.

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