Set in 19th-century Mount Lebanon, this is the story of Maryam, a young girl from a mountain village well-known for its silk cocoons. A chance romantic encounter presents her with a dilemma which is made even more problematic by an outbreak of sectarian violence that forces many to uproot their lives. The world of relative peace and harmony that Maryam once knew is now changed for good, leading her to discover that her only solace lies with two women she meets along the way, Layal and Rose. Each leaves a profound mark on her life, as does working at the local silk factory, something which sparks considerable controversy and leaves her with some unforeseen challenges to confront.
This was a time when women of all faiths enjoyed few rights outside the family. To cope, some, like Maryam, forged enduring friendships that helped them survive periods of grave upheaval and the uncertainties brought on by change.
In his preface to the novel, George Asseily, owner of the only remaining silk museum in Bsous, Lebanon, says, “In the Time of the Mulberry traces volatile relationships, both among various communities and within families themselves. Be it a disagreement between father and daughter or a clash among villagers of different faiths, these events all find their way into this vivid story. Though fictional, it nonetheless peers into a part of Lebanese history that is often brushed aside or simply ignored in some social and political circles.”