This book was a recommendation from a patron at the library. I love recommendations because I feel like I can learn something about the person who loved a particular book before me. It can also help me as a librarian because I have a better understanding of different people's personal tastes. Ever had that moment where you say to yourself, "what should I read next?" but have no answer? The librarians in Medfield are experts at helping you find that next book.
Now back to the book. Initially, I thought the most interesting thing about this book was that the author was the aunt of Dodi Al Fayad, yea Princess Di's Dodi. The dedication on the first few pages was a sort of In Memoriam to him. At first I wasn't that interested in the characters or the story, because readers are dropped into a funeral right off the bat, but without the emotional attachment that is needed to make the author's description a personal moment. I do however think that this was done intentionally so that readers would question the level of deference that is shown to the dead woman. However, to me it seemed more like being dropped into JFK's funeral service without knowing who JFK was or what happened to him.
Beyond the opening scenes, this book is a discussion of the tensions between the British and the Egyptians following WW2, and how these tensions influenced Muslim family hierarchies, the power shift to a military rule, and how a single personal action can have massive repercussions. There is love, intrigue, death, long lost family members, and murder set in the backdrop of 40 years of changing Eygptian political manoeuvers.
Not having a big background in Middle Eastern history, it was very interesting to me to see a fictional, yet accurate, account of how Ghadafi and Mubarak came to power. Especially with the foreknowledge that both of these rulers have recently been deposed. It was also very interested to see the tangling alliances of the English, the Russians, the French, and the Americans who each wanted to have a hand in shaping the "new" Egypt into an ally.
This book is definitely something that I would easily recommend for someone who likes modern historical fiction, Arabic fiction, or generally interested in the Middle East. It was just not exactly my cup of tea.