A Thousand and One Nights Review
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Fresh out of college and looking for an adventure, Karla takes a job as an entertainer on the MS Sound of Music. Between shuffleboard tournaments and evening performances, she meets Jack, a handsome British singer. The two begin to sing together more and more, and they dream of the glamorous lives of the duos who drop in on the ship for a day or two before flitting off to a contract job in some tropical locale. So, when their contracts are up, Karla and Jack leave the ship to become a duo called Northern Lights.

After spending several months in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Northern Lights land a long-term contract in a hotel in Shanghai. There, they find themselves caught up in the entertainer lifestyle—sleeping in too late, drinking way too much, and playing every night for an audience that doesn’t seem the least bit interested in their music. As Jack tries to start his own business from their all-beige room, Karla tries to make friends with the locals and their fellow entertainers while enjoying their surroundings. And after years of life as half of a duo, she starts to question her relationship with Jack.

  
 
A Thousand and One Nights could have been a fascinating read. I’m sure there are all kinds of interesting stories to tell about life as an entertainer on a cruise ship—or about the world-traveling, jet-setting life of a performing duo. Unfortunately, you won’t find those stories here. The story starts on the cruise ship—and before you get a chance to know any of the characters, or to really understand the lifestyle of an entertainer, that part of the story is over. And though Jack and Karla travel to all kinds of wonderful, exotic places, the reader never really gets a chance to experience them. Ms.Tupper provides very little description of the surroundings, and that makes it especially difficult to imagine what’s going on—or what it’s like in, say, Dubai.

I found it especially challenging to care about the characters, since I barely knew anything about them. Karla, who’s supposed to be the main character, is flat and completely one-dimensional. Readers are told very little about who she is or what she’s like. All we really know is that she’s from Maine—and she has some sort of interest in photography. And Jack is little more than a sketch in the background. The rest of the characters are even flatter (if that’s even possible). And the story is often told in short snippets that aren’t nearly as fascinating or eye-opening as they’re meant to be. Though it’s a quick and easy read, A Thousand and One Nights is, unfortunately, as lifeless and disappointing as the audience at one of Jack and Karla’s shows.

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