A Romance set in modern day London and Qatar.
I was sent an advance/ review copy from publisher. This is my honest review.
I was drawn to this book for the simple reason that in today’s climate where much of the Western world is at best wary of the Middle East, I wanted to get an insider viewpoint. The perceived idea that seem to be attached to predominantly Muslim countries is that they are oppressive and misogynistic; this book sought to allow a small insight and I was hoping it might allay some stereotypes.
It was only after I had finished that I realised the Qatar Government had bannned it for sale in their book outlets.
The story itself surprised me as went in entirely a different direction to the one I thought it might. This was refreshing and kept me engaged.
The three main characters are well drawn although by losing sight of Hind for a good portion of the middle of the book, it seemed to lessen the power of her worries and her struggles. She became less sympathetic to me because her motivations were obscured and so her rash action to save her own skin that becomes part of the ultimate dramatic conclusion made her seem less likable.
I particularly liked the juxtaposition between the similar, but ultimately different lives of Sangita and Hind however, and enjoyed the correlation between Hindu and Muslim tradition despite the apparent mutual exclusivity that faith from following The Book derives.. Sangita is an anomaly in herself, an Indian and American never completely at home with either nations’s social morés and traditions
There can be no denying Women are not equal in either country or religion and family interference is a problem even in the modern day for Muslims and Hindus alike. Despite the relative sophistication of the richness of Qatar, we realise wealth does not necessarily mean progress and I was left feeling a little bit anxious for both women despite the attempt to give them both a happy ending of sorts. Again the bitter reality of the lives they might be forced to lead was the “seasoning” that made this book much more than a romance set in exotic and expensive settings.
The Olympic Games in London and in preparation in Qatar features heavily in the background and the London Portion certainly gave this reader a little frisson of excitement as it was an event in my own experience with some minute part in background preparation which connected me to the story more than if it had been set slightly earlier or later.
For once a romance that develops more naturally and with more believable hurdles than the usual tropes, this alone recommends the book to readers who would like a fresh approach.
A Grandfather full of stories and intrigues and the inclusion of a hero in Abdulla, who is as equally troubled by the traditions that might entrap him as the female protagonists are,who is in a precarious position after a massive personal loss of his own, sealed my enjoyment for this interesting and diverting book.