Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (, and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location:, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, May 26, 2008


I know that last week's blog installment said that I'd be discussing Morocco Souks today, but it's MEMORIAL DAY, the day we remember our honored dead who served their country in time of war. For that reason, I want to take a moment and honor the unremembered women who served in the wars.

If you have followed the Jade del Cameron mysteries, starting with Mark of the Lion, then you know that Jade is a veteran of The Great War, having served as an ambulance driver in the Hackett-Lowther Unit. This unit was covered in one of my first blogs, so I invite you to go back and take a look at it if you haven't already. Many women worked under shell fire as ambulance drivers or as nurses and aid and some died for their pains.

Women have served, often uninvited, in all our wars, and while some officials at the time praised their patriotism, others ridiculed them for behaving in an "unwomanly manner."

There are some good websites to get you started, if you'd like to learn more about women who have served.
Women in the Civil War
WWI Women's Signal Corps
WWII Women's Air Service Pilots

And again, thank you to all those men and women who have served and paid the ultimate price.

Suzanne Arruda
(next week: Souks of Morocco Part 1)

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Monday, May 19, 2008


The French didn’t move into Marrakech when they assumed the protectorate. Instead, they built up their own, more European quarter to the west of the old city. This new area became known as Gueliz. Jade visited this area in her 1920 adventure, The Serpent’s Daughter, when she searched for her mother.

Jade’s next encounter with Gueliz was when she sent her mother to the French Catholic church to wait for her. This church of The Holy Martyrs is still standing, and the austere wooden benches and simple interior are quite beautiful, albeit a bit difficult to photograph in the dim light.

Edith Wharton didn’t report very much on Gueliz except to say that, in 1917, it consisted of a few shops and cafes “on avenues ending suddenly in clay pits.” (In Morocco, 1920)

C. E. Andrews visited this French suburb a few years later and wrote of it in his book, ­Old Morocco and the Forbidden Atlas, 1922. He said that here one could find “curious colonial types, interesting drinks, and American jazz music in an indiscreet and somewhat tawdry background.” Mr. Andrews reported that Gueliz was only 6 years old, but “neatly planned, laid out in long avenues planted with eucalyptus and palms, among which stand little scattered houses of plain stucco, very white and clean.”

Today, Gueliz is a very modern part of the city complete with art museums, four- and five-star hotels, and discos.


Monday, May 12, 2008


Who wouldn’t want to stay in an exotic, sumptuous palace for a few days? Well Jade, for one, since she was essentially confined to one in her 1920 adventure (The Serpent’s Daughter). Jade wasn’t the first woman to be a prisoner in the Bahia Palace, for as lovely as the harem quarter was, it was still a prison of sorts where the wives and the concubines lived out there entire lives, never leaving.

As buildings go in Marrakech, Bahia Palace is relatively new. It was constructed in the late 1800’s by the Grand Vizier Ba Ahmed Ben Moussa and was the residence of his four wives, twenty-four concubines, and a very large retinue of children.

Each wife had her own room and her own courtyard, open to the sky and light. Quiet, serene, beautiful; it must have been terribly lonely. The concubines’ rooms were scattered around the outside of another courtyard (see above photo), so they at least had each other to converse with.

Then there was ‘the favorite’s’ apartment. Edith Wharton (In Morocco, 1920) stayed in this apartment in 1917 at the invitation of the French Resident General Lyautey. She described it as a “lovely prison from which all sight and sound of the outer world are excluded.” The doors are particularly ornate here and one gave me the idea for the prison room of Jade’s mother. (see above photo.)

Twenty-five foot high walls support colored glass, letting jeweled light into a paved courtyard where trickling fountains break the silence. Only indirect sunlight reaches this area. The apartment was, consequently, always cool and comfortable even in the heat of summer.

But I suspect that ‘the favorite,’ like Jade, would have gladly traded the coolness for a moment of freedom in the sun.


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Monday, May 05, 2008


Jade and her mother had some time to kill at the end of their 1920 adventure (The Serpent’s Daughter). Unable to leave Marrakech for a while, they probably visited the recently discovered Saadian Tombs. These opulent tombs were unknown to the French authorities until 1917. Who were these Saadian Sultans buried there?

Edith Wharton records (In Morocco, 1920) that they came from Arabia in the late 15th century and gained the notice of the Berbers because they spoke against a divided empire and against the Spaniards and Portuguese who held the coasts. Ruling into the 16th century, one Sultan in particular, Abou-el-Abbas, decided to conquer Timbuctoo in the south and brought back a large quantity of gold ingots. For this he gained the nickname, “the golden” and began a period of building.

Ahmed al-Monsour, builder of the Badi Palace, is one of the princes buried here. Moulay Ismail, who razed the palace for materials to use in his own works, left the dead and their tombs alone, sealing them.

The tombs have long since been cleared of debris and again shine with the splendor of that brief period in Morocco’s colorful history. A visitor viewing them today might wonder how anything so large and so close to the Bahia Palace, where the Resident General lived in 1917, could have gone unnoticed. It’s because they were effectively buried by a tangled overgrowth of vegetation including nettle in an unused corner of the old city.

And how did General Lyautey discover them? Modern guidebooks say that an aerial survey brought them to the General’s attention. But author Edith Wharton, who visited the tombs during her 1917 trip to Morocco, wrote that the Sultan’s government quietly told the General about them in the hopes that these works of art would be saved and restored. It is possible that both tales are true. General Lyautey saw something of interest in the aerial surveys, made inquiries to the Sultan and was told of the tombs existence.


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