Friday, 20 October 2017

Review of "Disappeared" - a novel about the dark days in Argentina. Written by Colin Falconer

As our then crown prince married a daughter from a minister during the Argentinian junta days I think we in The Netherlands know a lot more about that dark episode than for instance people from Poland. She became a respected and very popular queen by the way. The sins of the fathers should not be blamed on the children and at least dad was not welcome at the wedding.

The day before I started to read the book I got as a present from the writer, I met someone who was a refugee from Syria. A nice hardworking young man who told me he had saved up during 10 years working in the Emirates, had come back home, bought a home and 2 shops and started a family. And then the civil war came and all was lost.

When I started to read "Disappeared" life is similar for two friends from university in Buenos Aires in the early seventies. They find jobs, fall in love, marry and one of them, Reuben, becomes the father of twin daughters. Then the shadows start to creep into view. Communists create havoc and the military answers in kind. No one knows how to be safe anymore. At first it is people who did something subversive that are targetted but more and more it is just devilish evil coming out in the dark.

One night one of the wives is taken by the secret police. The neighbours and her husband are shocked. But things get even worse.

Years later both children and the father have never seen each other again. Evil has just changed names.

It is that shedding of civilisation that was shocking and so well described by the writer. The real bad guys do not see themselves as bad. They did torture less than their colleagues they both think. But also the men in the street forget their morals.

In the book the people are never safe. Even 20 years later.

Very good book. A stark reminder why human rights are so important. Our liberal party leader hates the fact that human rights treaties prevent the Netherlands from doing things and wants to get out of the treaties. You should never want to be without a human rights anchor to prevent the ship that is your state to float away and flounder on the rocks killing its passengers.


ON AMAZON:
http://amzn.to/2xTIa6S
ARE THERE SOME SECRETS IT'S BETTER NOT TO KNOW?

Buenos Aires, 1976. The generals take control and for rich Jewish financiers like Reuben Altman the world is coming to an end, just as it should be beginning. He has a beautiful wife who has just given him two twin baby daughters, Diana and Simone.

But the night the death squads come to his apartment, he is not there, he is with his mistress. It is a sin he will pay for, over and over again.

The man who tortures and murders his wife also takes one of his baby daughters as his own. But what happened to Diana?

Many years later, after the junta are overthrown, Reuben Altman returns to Argentine to try and unravel the secrets.

A deeply religious country with a dark and violent past, Argentine has always treated its generals with as much reverence as its priests. So it does not surprise him when his search leads him to Rome and the headquarters of the Catholic Church. In uncovering the truth he threatens men with powerful links to the international arms business and the Vatican bank itself.

But Reuben is a man looking for redemption and will stop at nothing to bring his daughters back together and uncover the most terrible secret any father can ever keep.

Colin Falconer is the international best selling author of ANASTASIA and VENOM and over two dozen other best selling novels. His books have been translated into 23 languages

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Review of "Miss Phryne Fisher: dead man's chest" -- even better than the series on tv

Miss Phryne Fisher, the 1920-ties female detective in her fast car and her flapper dress with a sleek bobcut  hairdo and a sigarette. I liked the series (was in those days here in Holland only available on internet sites - what for us Dutchies was not illegal to watch). The book is even better because of all the humour and subtle jokes. I was astonished to see point blank in a detective novel that felt very old style mentioned miss Fischer was sick of her dry spell of a week and masturbated. What will the American prudes have a shock :) (It took me to read it twice to grasp what was suggested there).

While Phryne's townhouse in Melbourne is redecorated she moves her companion and her adopted daughters to a seashore resort (in the making, it is interesting to see how "trippers" in those days vacationed) where they are allowed to borrow the house of a anthropologist who is away on an expedition. To their surprise however the housekeeper and cook couple is not present and it looks like the house is looted for food while the valuables are still there and even the housekeeper's dog shows up. Phryne and her merry band wonder what this is all about but make do with one daughter cooking all kind of fancy dishes (instructions included in the book after the story) and the other focussed on science.

In the meantime they meet the neighbours: the ghastly old hag who spies on everybody, the always drunk mother of a teenage boy who with his two friends bullies the local kids and some weirdo surrealists. Then there is the filmcrew shooting a movie about a local pirate and his never recovered treasure hoard, a snapper who cuts off the braids of young girls and smugglers and maybe a murder.

The book is a pleasure to read. After having seen a series it is always a gamble if the original book will be as much fun but it was even better. The author is a very accomplished writer. Not just the plot but also the how.



AMAZON writes:
It's high summer in Melbourne—the ideal time, Phryne Fisher thinks, to pack up the Hispano-Suiza and withdraw to the quiet vacation town of Queenscliff, at the mouth of the Bay. And yet, there is mystery and intrigue almost from the moment of her arrival. The Johnsons, who staff the holiday house, are nowhere to be found… along with much of the home's contents. When their bedraggled dog shows up days later, the Johnsons’ absence begins to look like something more sinister. Between the missing staff, coastal smugglers, daft surrealists and a pigtail thief, Phryne’s vacation is proving to be anything but.

Dead Man’s Chest, set in the Australia of 1929, is the 18th of Kerry Greenwoods much-loved Phryne Fisher mysteries.

When you like Indiana Jones this is the book for you

Sean, the husband of  Isabel, is an archaeologist. At the beginning of the novel Isabel, who works for the intelligence service normally, has travelled to Egypt because her husband has gone missing there. Egypt is in a turmoil with the army taking power and the Muslim Brotherhood going for presidency again. While Isabel is trying to find a trace of her husband another archaeologist with backup of a powerful businessman insists there is a hidden area in the pyramid of Cheops. He invites her for the opening of that hidden room.

The story is intriguing and many current affairs of nowadays Egypt intertwine within the story. You keep on reading. However do not expect deep psychological analysis.Although the mourning is well written.  In the end I had the feeling the story was rushed. On the other hand the fact that some people appear in Isabel's life and then after a short time die instead of developing in a love interest or a mysterious nomad makes the story more realistic and less "constructed".

Written as a review for Netgalley




ON AMAZON

From the award winning bestselling author of The Istanbul Puzzle. For those who want to understand where the latest, real headline-grabbing revelations from the Great Pyramid of Giza will lead us. Read as a stand alone or start the series with The Istanbul Puzzle.

Henry warned her. “If you go to Cairo, you'll get yourself killed.”

But what choice does Isabel have? She has to find Sean, her missing husband, and she's discovered that a hospital in Cairo treated an American patient recently, flown to Cairo from Germany for some unexplained reason. But she's arrived at the wrong moment. A mass uprising is being crushed in Tahrir Square. The next day, an Egyptian billionaire announces a discovery at the Great Pyramid of Giza. Isabel decides to talk to him. He might help her find Sean.

She ends up deep in the desert, at a camp run by the Muslim Brotherhood. They murder her driver in front of her, then ask her to carry one simple task. They will lead her to Sean if she agrees. But what they are asking goes against everything she believes in. And time is running out.

The Great Pyramid of Giza provides the final piece of the puzzle, which Isabel and Sean first encountered in Istanbul. In a fabled hall, assumed by most to be an ancient myth, Isabel finds out what happened to her husband. She also discovers what lies beneath the Great Pyramid, based on real, ground penetrating archaeology, which will undermine what millions cherish as the truth.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Review of "Adored: the harem diaries" - ok story without background research

The romance story is interesting but when you situated a novel in a real country and your readers might know that country themselves,  there is the danger of errors distracting. For instance: Fez and Casablanca are situated in a farming area with the desert way further to the South. I wonder if Casablanca even existed then. Churchbells in a Muslim country? A son of the Moroccan sultan is not a caliph because that is like the pope and was a title of the Turkish sultan and I wonder if the titles of the harem officials would be Turkish ones. Naming not Marrakesh as a major city etc.etc.

So just read this as a faitytale and enjoy that. For me the factual errors broke the spell.
Also a bit pricey for a Kindle.



 You can buy it here

On AMAZON:

 This was not the adventure she'd been promised…

The last thing Miss Antonia Freeman anticipated as companion to Duchess of Weatherly on the final leg of their tour in beautiful Morocco was ending up in the Caliph of Fez’s palace. But when presented with an offer to finally see lands she had only ever dreamed of, she eagerly agrees to the journey. Still, nothing could have prepared her for the splendor of the palace and coming face-to-face with the most beautiful man she's ever seen.

Khalil Al-Rasheed, Caliph of Fez, is the ruler of all he surveys. After suffering the heart-rending loss of his wife in childbirth, he finds himself in desperate need of a teacher for his beloved yet mischievous daughter, Cassiopeia. What he does not anticipate is being presented with a disheveled and bedraggled British woman with four young boys in tow.

From the palace's lush gardens to the majestic grandeur of the harem, skepticism gives way to adoration as Khalil sees the wonders Antonia works in his little girl. Amidst intrigue and danger, Khalil and Antonia find themselves exploring a burgeoning passion that is threatened by betrayal. Confronting the truth may tear them apart as Khalil is forced to come to terms with his grief and Antonia questions if she can ever win the heart of a man longing for the love of his past.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Review of "Saved by Sheikh Omar"

Old fashioned style romance story set just after World War I in which the guy is a hero who treats the woman with love and respect. 

Compared to the real old fashioned romance stories of the 1970 and 1980 a lot more explicit.

It is more of a short story. Not long enough to call it a novel.


AMAZON writes:

It is 1923. British lady Mira, fresh out of school, and her brother Charles, a veteran from the Great War, are en route to his new farm in Rhodesia in Southern Africa. Their family fortune is gone and he hopes to start a flying school in the African colony. Their plane however malfunctions over the Sahara desert. Charles is forced to do an emergency landing. He departs to find help, leaving Mira all alone in the middle of the desert.

A few hours to the North, Arabian Sheikh Omar prepares his caravan to return home to his oasis town.

Enjoy this historical romance set in Northern Africa in the 1920ties.




You can download the Kindle App to read Kindle type ebooks on your smartphone or pc

Review "Fletcher's Fortune" - a navy story with a detective aspect

At the end of the 18th century an orphaned bastard  is set to inherit a fortune without knowing it. His half brothers and their mother want him dead. He ends up presses into the navy but it seems his enemies still know how to reach him.
Good story but the ending  is unbelievable.


AMAZON writes:  

Young Jacob Fletcher, whilst unsure of his parentage, did know that as an apprentice he couldn't legally be seized by the press gang.

But this particular gang couldn't actually read the rules. And didn't care anyway.

Which was how he found himself risking life, limb and sea sickness on board His Majesty's frigate Phiandra, about to do battle with what looked like half the French fleet.

Meanwhile at Coignwood Hall, the late Sir Henry lay face-down in his soup as his beautiful but evil widow, Lady Sarah, along with their two loathsome sons, ransacked his papers for the will that would disclose to their horror that the entire family fortune has been left to a previously unknown illegitimate son.

Who would now have to be tracked down and disposed of as a matter of some urgency...

What will become of Fletcher's Fortune?

Fletcher's Fortune is the first in a rollicking series of memoirs that bring the 18th Century back to life in its tawdry glory.





When you wonder how to read a Kindle book from the US? Just download the Kindle App on your phone or pc. And pay attention: compared to Dutch prices you pay like 15%

Thursday, 31 August 2017

REVIEW of novel set in pre-Taliban Afghanistan. Very impressed by this insiders account

When you stop your car at a truckstop so you can read a bit more a book is really interesting!

I am NOT going to tell too much of the story as essential in that story is the past getting revealed bit by bit.

At the beginning of the novel we meet Scottish Miriam married to a doctor in rural Afghanistan. He is her second husband and things are less happy than they seemed at first. Bit by bit we get to know her history and that of her husband.

It is clear the writer knows - later I discovered she indeed has firsthand experience- Afghanistan.

As I met people from Afghanistan in the 90ties when I worked with refugees I was really interested in the cultural background of the story. But the author is a blessed storyteller as well. Miriam really seems real. And you hope nothing bad will happen to her. The mentioning of Dumfries made me smile. Not many people around where I live will know that small Scottish town but I have a friend who lives there and I guess she might even know the writer.

AMAZON writes: "Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather."


Someone else wrote a review on Amazon stating: (and I agree)
" on July 15, 2016

At first, what struck me most about this highly descriptive, lyrically written, “No More Mulberries,” was the author’s ability to completely transport me back to the faraway country of 1990s Afghanistan, not only geographically, but also culturally, and ideologically. It’s a country where ‘saving face’ is the order of the day, where its population is rapidly falling victim to the Taliban, and where primitive beliefs are so pervasive, that a child with leprosy is almost drowned by his father, in order to ‘kill’ the disease. In addition, Smith shows us––through the eyes of the ‘outsider’ widow Miriam from Scotland, her second Afghani husband, and their children––that there’s another side to this land; how the people are so gracious and hospitable that offering one’s home and food to strangers is a given, and not accepting a dinner invitation is tantamount to receiving a slap in the face.

But ultimately, what held me captive was the slow, unwinding mystery being played out of how Miriam’s first husband died, and what brought her to her second husband. Although the clash of cultures is often painful, confusing, and palpable, Smith confirms that in the end, no matter where we’re from, no matter the hardships in where we’ve landed, if we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves, the rest will undoubtedly fall into place. Definitely recommend!"

Here for sale at AMAZON: http://amzn.to/2wprF32


USING THOSE LINKS FUNDS MY READING



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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Autobiography of a Scottish woman working in Afghanistan "Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni"

I read her novel about a Scottish woman who married an Afghan. That made me read this book. You can see the truelife inspirations of her novel. Less epic than the novel this book is interesting to read. It gives you a glimpse of life that is not reported in the newspapers.



According to AMAZON:

Drunk Chickens and Burn Macaroni (subtitle) offers a remarkable insight into the lives of Afghan women both before and after Taliban’s rise to power. The reader is caught up in the day-to-day lives of women like Sharifa, Latifa and Marzia, sharing their problems, dramas, the tears and the laughter: whether enjoying a good gossip over tea and fresh nan, dealing with a husband’s desertion, battling to save the life of a one-year-old opium addict or learning how to deliver babies safely. http://amzn.to/2x6ZCrC


IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN E-READER JUST DOWNLOAD THE KINDLE APP FOR YOUR PHONE OR PC

Review of "A Ruthless Proposition" set in South Africa

No not the usual "rich man beds his secretary in 10 different ways"- novel what it looks like at first.

It turns out to be a moving novel with realistic situations and real emotions. With real people.

We get to know a guy who seems cold at first but turns out to be a man who grew up in a loveless household who has never experienced a loving relationship. So he does not know how to.

The female lead had a mother who only thought of herself and she lived like that herself as well. As a ballerina until an accident forces her to choose another career: office worker. She hates it. She has not come to terms with her life. She slowly realises the people around her deserve her attention and that she will never be the stardancer again but might do something else rewarding that she can enjoy.

Something happens to these two people what forces them to work together. She has to grow up fast and he learns what it is to have people to care for and to be part of a team. Then disaster happens.

I stayed up late to finish it. I am not the teary person but this book does that to you. Can recommend reading it



AMAZON however sums it up like this:


All that glitters may lead right to his heart…
The last thing Cleopatra Knight expects on her business trip to Tokyo is to fall into bed with her arrogant, irresistibly hot boss, Dante Damaso. It’s a mistake—a steamy, mind-blowingly satisfying mistake. But a few nights of passion with the superwealthy bad boy prove to have long-term effects when Cleo’s world is unexpectedly turned upside down.
Dante has cultivated an enviable, jet-setting lifestyle: beautiful women, exotic destinations, and luxury without limits. He’s not looking to be domesticated, and certainly not by his assistant—even though he can’t get her out of his mind. Still, he knows he has both the responsibility and the financial means to help Cleo.
Though Cleo has no interest in Dante’s money, her lack of prospects gives her little choice but to accept his help. But living under the same roof, Dante discovers he wants more, and if Cleo lets down her guard, she just might find what her heart’s wanted all along.
http://amzn.to/2wTZuwe

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN E-READER JUST DOWNLOAD THE KINDLE APP FOR YOUR PHONE OR PC

Monday, 14 August 2017

Review of The Seed Woman by Petra Durst-Benning

This is a novel http://amzn.to/2vxUNGN what we call in The Netherlands a "streekroman" - a traditional family chronicle set in a rural area in an era in the past. Not my normal pick in novels. But I was attracted by the cover of the book.


The book is written by a German author and is set mostly in a small village Gönningen in the south of Germany around 1850 but some parts take place in Odessa and in the Dutch bulb growing area. The village is famous for it's seed trading. The men and also many women of the village travel all over Europe to sell vegetable and flower seeds to farmers and estates.

It is a few days before Christmas when a young woman, the daughter of an innkeeper from Neurenberg, arrives in the village. She states that she is pregnant and the father is the son of the richest trader in town. That same son is supposed to marry the townbeauty Seraphine on the 6th of January. Seraphina whose father is missing and who grew up in poverty and who is longing for her fate to be wed to such a catch. Who has been sowing her weddingdress for months.

While at first I was all too sympathetic with Seraphine, having been dumped with heartbreak myself in my own youth, I more and more started to really dislike her. And wished that Helmut and his family grew some balls. Who would want to stand such war and then even in your own house? Why not move away when there are trading opportunities in Russia and America? She is totally obsessed and maybe crazy. What due to the two traumatic events at the start of the novel is not that far fetched..I really doubt if remorse would be able to cure that. It made me wonder if all the other familymembers were daft.

The historical background of the story was interesting. I would like to suggest to the writer to put the historical explanation at the start of the book so the readers will realise all that is more or less correct and no fantasy.

What I found difficult is that the seed woman is Hannah but large parts of the book are about the brothers and others about Seraphine. That makes it harder to identify with one person in the novel.

It was a nice surprise to see the area I live in in Holland suddenly feature in a German book mainly set in Germany. The sandy soil for the bulbs, the "helmgras" (sand reed) on the sanddunes on the seashore.

Original title in German "Die Samenhändlerin" what means the lady who trades in seeds.




On Amazon:
"From bestselling author Petra Durst-Benning comes a sweeping emotional story of courage, triumph, and love against all odds in nineteenth-century Germany.
After a long and trying journey from her home, Hannah arrives at a charming village nestled in the foothills of the Swabian Mountains, eager to find Helmut Kerner, a traveling seed merchant she loved and lost. Enchanted by the glorious wildflowers and thriving harvests stretching as far as the eye can see, Hannah feels less like an outsider with each passing hour, until she meets Seraphine, an ethereally beautiful dreamer engaged to be married to Helmut, the father of Hannah’s unborn child.
Desperate to win back Helmut’s affections, Hannah gets to work and quickly discovers a passion for the seed trade, and with every change of season comes a change of heart. Can Hannah and Seraphine put aside their differences to find a way to work together, or will Hannah and her child be forced to leave this place she has come to love?"

Or you want to read it in its original language?


Die Samenhändlerin

Württemberg im Jahre 1850: Auf der Suche nach dem Mann, der sie geschwängert hat, kommt die junge Hannah Brettschneider in ein Dorf am Fuß der Schwäbischen Alb: Gönningen ist die Heimat der Samenhändler, die seit fast zwei Jahrhunderten vom Geschäft mit Tulpenzwiebeln, mit Blumen- und Gemüsesamen leben. Doch Hannahs Begeisterung für den ungewöhnlichen Ort währt nicht lange: Helmut, dessen Kind sie erwartet, ist mit Seraphine, dem schönsten Mädchen im Dorf, verlobt …

 


Monday, 7 August 2017

"The warrior princess" - the Welsh rebellion's historical facts in the form of a novel

Thanks to Outlander en Braveheart even we non-British people know the stories of the Scottish rebellions. However to me the Welsh rebellion was totally unknown. A few weeks ago I read a simple romance novel in which the heroine's mother wanted her to be a second Gwenllian. The first Gwenllian was apparently some freedom fighter who was still remembered in the Welsh battlecry. I thought all of that was fiction till all of a sudden the book Netgalley asked me to review was about exactly that Gwenllian. First thing I did was check Wikipedia. Yes she was a historical figure. No do not check before you have read the book as the tale is as historically correct as possible and checking a history book will spoil the suspense of the story!

It is less then 100 years after the Normans under William the Conqueror aka the Bastard have invaded England. But even now they have their claws in the Wales territory and have occupied some of the principalities/kingdoms while others are still free. Princess Gwenllian and her husband prince Gruffydd ap Rhys alias Tarw of Deheubarth had been fighting the English invaders but have disappeared / died a decade before. The sister of the prince is happily married to a Norman knight who holds one of the big English castles in the area, Pembroke.

All seems more or less peaceful but then the English king dies, the son of the steward of Llandeilo is arrested for rebelling against the English and the second man of castle Pembroke has plans of his own. In a few months time the area is knees deep in a civil war.

The book is a fascinating read for people who are interested in history and people who like to read about military campaigns. Because it is done as a novel it reads a lot better than when done as an article.

What surprised me to see was how much European (continental) influence there was in the conquest of Wales. Flemish knights, mercenaries from Saxony and I read somewhere also many Flemish immigrants sent there to colonise Wales. EU migration 1000 years early. It also made me wonder why the Normans rather had foreigners there than trying to conquer the Welsh hearts. I mean England did not have that much of a problem with them unless we have to believe Ivanho.

While we more or less see what happens to all the players in the book from a birds eye perspective, that does prevent a bit to form a strong connection with the individuals. It is more their acts than their thoughts we read about.

When you have finished do go to Wiki and see what happened with the ones who are still alive at the end of the book. The author did explain the historical facts at the end. Maybe he should have also added a little bit of an historical epilogue. I liked the successtory of son Rhys.

Not a book you finish in a day.

Five out of five stars. Really recommend it.





This is what Amazon wrote: 
1135 AD. Wales is a broken land. Many of its true-born rulers are in hiding, or married into noble English families. But, though low and dim, a flame of vengeance still burns…
In the southern kingdom of Deheubarth, Gerald of Windsor governs. Firm but fair, he commands the respect of those he reigns over, and the love of Nesta, his wife.
But then treachery strikes from the heart of the English ranks and peace and stability are quickly forgotten. Nesta, daughter of a long-dead prince, is more than what she seems. And when her family is threatened, she takes drastic action to protect it…
In the mountainous rebel heartland of Cantref Mawr, the Welsh resistance has found a new figurehead: a fearless warrior, born with a sword in her hand, and with vengeance in her heart.
The Warrior Princess is coming. And the English will know fear.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

A real murder described in what looks like a novel but what is an "I accuse" by a relative

At first I pondered, while reading, that this Turkish novel was definatly from another writing culture than my normal Western books. It starts not even with the birth of the heroine but with her great grandfather.

Well in fact it starts with Aylin's death. Was it murder? Was this based on a real person? Then the turns towards the past and starts with her ancestors and continues to describe her whole life.It seems we pass five husbands and numorous flings in the blink of an eye only to slow down to tell about several patients she treated. She is described as a very good doctor but a very shallow person in real life who is fun to be with but who gets easily bored with people and then moves on to the next man. She reminded me of a friend of mine who is the same with men.

The story stops abrupt with her death leaving a couple of suspects: 1) the husband she refuses to divorce who has connections with the Clintons  2) army connections because she is digging in experiments 3) a violent ex patient.

Exactly that ending made me wonder if this was indeed based on a real person and the book a kind of "I accuse". And after some digging I found out that the real Aylin was Aylin Radomisli-Cates, married to Kelvin Kline's father in law. And indeed this Aylin was found dead as described. The writer a relative of hers. I ran some Turkish newspaper interviews through Google translate. It seems not all the familymembers agreed with the picture of Aylin in the book.

Although I do not like the book as a novel (no depth) it still had me mesmerised because it is a real murder case and I have a legal mind. I wished I knew - now 20 years after the murder - who had done it. But even her ex is now dead.

This is what AMAZON has to say about the book:

Aylin’s body was found in her garden, her hair immaculately styled as usual. Her death came as a shock—after all, who would have wanted someone so admired and talented dead? Who—among the many she’d helped, the few she’d hurt, and all those she’d left behind—might have been driven to murder?
In the course of Aylin’s life, she had been many things: a skinny little girl, a young woman blossoming into a beauty, a princess married to a controlling Libyan prince, a broke medical student determined to succeed. She’d been a seductress, a teacher, a renowned psychiatrist, and a Turkish immigrant remarkably at home as an officer in the US Army. Through it all, she’d loved, been in love, and pursued truth without surrender. Whatever role she’d found herself in, she’d committed to it fully and lived it with her heart, mind, and soul.
From internationally bestselling Turkish author Ayşe Kulin comes Aylin, the story of one woman’s life as she makes her passionate way toward a strange, sudden end.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Interesting read for the weekend? "The Race for Timbuktu"


Timbuktu rings a bell for all of us who were raised with the Donald Duck. When Donald had done something wrong and he had to race to a place as far remote as possible it was Timbuktu. In newer versions it is the North Pole I believe. But still I knew the name before hearing of it famous past.
  In 1825, Alexander Gordon Laing set out to become the first European to reach the city of Timbuktu since the Middle Ages. This “lively and informative” history (The Washington Post) traces his death-defying 2,000-mile journey.  Amazon writes:


"In the first decades of the nineteenth century, no place burned more brightly in the imagination of European geographers––and fortune hunters––than the lost city of Timbuktu. Africa's legendary City of Gold, not visited by Europeans since the Middle Ages, held the promise of wealth and fame for the first explorer to make it there. In 1824, the French Geographical Society offered a cash prize to the first expedition from any nation to visit Timbuktu and return to tell the tale.

One of the contenders was Major Alexander Gordon Laing, a thirty–year–old army officer. Handsome and confident, Laing was convinced that Timbuktu was his destiny, and his ticket to glory. In July 1825, after a whirlwind romance with Emma Warrington, daughter of the British consul at Tripoli, Laing left the Mediterranean coast to cross the Sahara. His 2,000–mile journey took on an added urgency when Hugh Clapperton, a more experienced explorer, set out to beat him. Apprised of each other's mission by overseers in London who hoped the two would cooperate, Clapperton instead became Laing's rival, spurring him on across a hostile wilderness.

An emotionally charged, action–packed, utterly gripping read, The Race for Timbuktu offers a close, personal look at the extraordinary people and pivotal events of nineteenth–century African exploration that changed the course of history and the shape of the modern world."

You can buy it here: http://amzn.to/2tn2rQB

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great - a book about the king who stood up against the Vikings

This one is not free but costs 1.99 dollar. However for everyone who enjoyed the tv series The Last Kingdom or Vikings or are just interested in Vikings and history in general l this might be an interesting read. I am buying it anyways.



The unlikely king who saved England.

Down swept the Vikings from the frigid North. Across the English coastlands and countryside they raided, torched, murdered, and destroyed all in their path. Farmers, monks, and soldiers all fell bloody under the Viking sword, hammer, and axe.

Then, when the hour was most desperate, came an unlikely hero. King Alfred rallied the battered and bedraggled kingdoms of Britain and after decades of plotting, praying, and persisting, finally triumphed over the invaders.

Alfred's victory reverberates to this day: He sparked a literary renaissance, restructured Britain's roadways, revised the legal codes, and revived Christian learning and worship. It was Alfred's accomplishments that laid the groundwork for Britian's later glories and triumphs in literature, liturgy, and liberty.

"Ben Merkle tells the sort of mythic adventure story that stirs the imagination and races the heart and all the more so knowing that it is altogether true!" George Grant, author of The Last Crusader and The Blood of the Moon .

This sounds as a promising #FREE (today) book. A murder mystery set in Gaul in 56 BC

This sounds as a promising #FREE (today) book:

Summer, 56 BC.

Caesar is waging a war on Gaul.

Cingetorix, king of the Cantiaci, sends his bard, Bran, to meet the ambassador of the Veneti and Bran’s old friend, Morigenos, who has an urgent message for his allies about the war.

But when Bran arrives in Glannomagos he finds Morigenos has been brutally murdered.

And a few days later, the corpse of a young woman is washed ashore.

It quickly becomes apparent that the young woman had witnessed Morigenos’ murder and that someone is trying to cover their tracks...

Realising that the motive was to stop Bran from receiving Morigenos’ message, he is determined to find the culprit.

But his suspects include the very people in charge of the official investigation. Bran must contend with Druids, menacing mercenaries, a renegade Roman sailor, scheming Atrebetians and his well-meaning but troublesome charges, Cingetorix’s sons.

As the omens point to a confrontation with the might of Rome, can Bran solve the murder, recover Morigenos’ secret message and still escape with his own life?

'A memorable. page-turning read.' - Robert Foster, best-selling author of 'The Lunar Code'.

Malcolm Gentle is a retired civil servant. He lives in Sheffield with his wife. 'Blood Sacrifice' is his first novel.

Endeavour Press is the UK’s leading independent publisher of digital books.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Review of free book "The Arabian Rose"

During the Second World war a young woman is posted as a war correspondent in a small Arabian harbour town on the edge of the desert. She falls in love with the town and its inhabitants. The British garrison however treats the locals with contempt. The commanding officer turns out to be a dangerous madman. The Germans are expected to attack any day. Tansy however is enjoying herself. She made a friend. A local she feels very attracted to. But then all hell breaks loose.

A beautiful and layered novel. But I might be prejudiced as I also fell in love with an Arab in a sleepy harbour town with whom I went to explore the desert. So my memory could bring up the sights and smells while reading this story.

I can really recommend this book. If a lovestory is not your cup of tea wait till it becomes a wartale that keeps you on the tip of your toes.

Only thing I found hard to swallow is that the British armed forces are committing warcrimes even when their crazed commanding officer is not there (I am not British by the way). I do understand that in the 1940ties some people harboured a deep mistrust or hatred towards natives but I would have expected it more from a German SS regiment.

The title refers to Tansy becoming an Arabian rose instead of the English rose she was.

Some scenes are very touching. Like the man who is insisting to read her her own journals so that she will know the names of the people to call for in heaven that she has forgotten due to her very old age.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Review of "The Red" - do I dare to tell I did read that?

For the website Nedgalley I review books that have not been published yet. This one had a beautiful cover and after the "50 shades of grey"- hype even a nun can admit to have read an erotic novel right?

Mona Lisa enherited the artgallery of her mother but the business was so deep in depths she had to fire the staff and was about to close it down. Then a very goodlooking man appeared in the gallery after closing time and offered her to save her gallery. But she had to have sex with him once and awhile for a period of a year. She thaught he was a rich guy and who wanted a mistress. What he wanted was to reenact famous paintings however.

Which means they have sex only a couple of times during that year but it is all a bit out of the ordinary.

To be honest I thought most of the book pure porn. I am a hopeless romantic so group orgies, flogging and the like are not my cup of tea.

However some of the things that happened seemed to hint to something that was strange and unexplainable. Like when Malcolm reenacts a painting of a satyr playing with nymphs he seems to have real satyr legs. Mona at first thinks it is just a matter of having spent a lot of money on re-ennacting.

So I wanted to know what was really going on. Mona Lisa herself wonders if he is the devil. In books everything is possible is it not? In the end we find out who Malcolm really is and to be honest that part of the book is quite good.

I also liked the fact that the book explained a lot about famous paintings or paintings that I had not know of from famous painters.



Book review: The Midwife: The Pocket Watch Chronicles - a kind of Outlander Light

Another of those novels in which a woman timetravels to Scotland ("Outlander" set a trend). This time even further: to the 12th century.

The beginning is interesting. How to practice medicine with modern knowledge but Dark Ages material. You can notice the writer has a medical background. When you cannot perform a Ceasarian what other options are left?

The second half however is a bit bland. I rather had seen a bit more background and soulsearching. As for instance in Outlander where the real history and politics of the period are described.

Not the deepest story but a nice one to read on a plane (train / bus) and I had hours to fill in transport.


Amazon is a lot cheaper than Bol.  Kindle you can read with an app on your phone.

Te koop via Bol.com

Te koop via Amazon


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Review of "Laws of Migration"


Birds, especially the ibis, have always fascinated Elize--that's why she became an ornithologist. But when her boss at the private Texas coastal institute where she's spent her career gives away her expected promotion, Elize flees to Morocco to lick her wounds and write a research paper that will prove her worth and secure her professional future.

Morocco, with its impressive migration season, exotic flavors, and unwritten rules, is altogether foreign, even if many of the birds are familiar. After a brush with danger, Elize finds herself in Marrakesh, dependent on Erik, a sexy, mysterious stranger who makes her feel alive while opening her eyes to a new, intriguing world. After encountering her ornithology colleagues, who remind Elize of every bad professional choice and missed opportunity, she vows to find the Northern Bald Ibis--an endangered bird few have seen--and impress everyone.

She and Erik journey from coastal paradise to remote desert mountains in search of the birds. Through misadventure, Elize is forced to trust an unknown culture, and through tragedy, she realizes that love and forgiveness are attainable. But first she must surrender her past and its pain to embrace her future and fly free.

For sale at Amazon and Bol.com (loading of the button can be slow, please wait and let me earn some commission)


I do have doves nesting on my balcony but that is all I know of birds. I did not even know all kind of groups of birds have a different name  in English like "a murder of crows". Maybe we do not have that in Dutch. All in all the small facts on birds were interesting to learn. Another plus was how I could recognise the real Morocco in the book. The story is a lovestory but even more that of someone whose life had been an emotional desert who slowly - with a lot of references to birds- starts to function living in and enjoying groups. To live, to feel, to be happy. At first one suspects it to be a dreadful chicklit romp but the story gets better after awhile.

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Review of "The Drowning guard" - a Turkish princess confesses to her executioner

When the sister of the sultan starts to smell decay everywhere her physician suspects it is guilt making her mind ill. What would not be surprising as as she is renowned as the woman who drowns her lovers in the Bosporus The old Christian doctor recommends a confessor. Who better then the executioner. And so nights of storytelling like in 1001 night start. But is she really such a vile person?
I liked the psychology of the first part. But had problems seeing her as a hero because she knew what would happen and still acted as a bitch in heath. Apparently it is based on a historical woman and a good read however some elements sound very unrealistic and fantastic to me. 


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Each morning in the hour before dawn, a silent boat launches on the Bosphorous, moving swiftly into the deepest part of the waters halfway between Europe and Asia, where a man will die…

The Drowning Guard is the tale of the Ottoman princess, Esma Sultan—one of the most powerful women in Ottoman history and unlike any other woman in the Islamic world. In a gender reversal of Scheherazade in 1001 Arabian Nights, Esma seduces a different Christian lover each night, only to have him drowned in the morning. The Sultaness's true passion burns only for the Christian-born soldier charged with carrying out the brutal nightly death sentence: her drowning guard, Ivan Postivich.

The Drowning Guard explores the riddle of Esma—who is at once a murderer and a champion and liberator of women—and the man who loves her in spite of her horrifying crimes. This textured historical novel, set in the opulence and squalor of Istanbul in 1826, is woven with the complexity and consequences of love.
(AMAZON)

VIA AMAZON AND BOL.COM (loading takes awhile, be patient)

Review of 'Ottoman the epic rise and fall of Constantinople"

Hawkwood one of the first artillerist moves to Byzantium to offer his knowledge to the Emperor. However he ends up fighting for the Ottoman sultan and so will his descendants for the next 200 years.
Great story that starts with Mehmet Fati who conquers Constantinople and ends with Selim the Sot.

 

 


1448, Constantinople.


A city where East meets West in a glittering display of culture and power.


English master-gunner John Hawkwood uproots his family from their native land and journeys to this fabled city.

With the city under threat by the Ottoman Turks, the Byzantine emperor is in desperate need of men like Hawkwood and the knowledge of cannon and gunpowder he brings.

For a time, the Hawkwoods enjoy status and privilege in return for John’s superior abilities as an artillerist.

But all good things must come to an end.

When tragedy strikes, even the close relationship John shares with the emperor cannot absolve the family of their sins, and with little more than the clothes on their backs, the Hawkwoods flee Constantinople.

Captured by the savage Turks, John Hawkwood swiftly changes his allegiance, and once more applies his considerable skills…this time serving the conquerors in their victorious surge across eastern Europe and Mediterranean shores.

No man lives forever, but the Hawkwood line never dies.

For five generations, the Hawkwood men serve their Turkish leaders faithfully as military leaders and envoys.

Although showered with wealth and privilege and accorded honours commensurate with their rank, their fates lie in the often capricious hands of the Ottoman empire’s cruel leaders.

Over a span of nearly one hundred and fifty years, the Hawkwoods must employ every ounce of political cunning they possess to survive the swirling intrigues and bloody massacres that dominate the world in which they live.

For their wives and concubines, the uncertainties and dangers of life are no less severe: the punishment meted out to a Hawkwood man who fails his duty likewise falls upon his family.

Beyond the gleaming wealth and the veneer of power lie grim spectres of betrayal and sudden death, the threat of ravishment and torture lurking behind the gilded pillars of their palaces and harems.

And when the time comes to choose between Ottoman and Hawkwood, no one can say what the future might bring…
(source Amazon)

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Review: The Spanish woman (book about life in the Ottoman empire)

When I bought the book I expected a traditional romance novel But it is a book written by a male historian. The book starts as a romance story in which a woman is taken (in both meanings of the word writes the historic source material) captive by a Turkish naval captain. This means that her pending marriage to a Spanish nobleman will be cancelled and even when her family will pay her ransom she will be send to a convent for the rest of her life. She cannot stand that thought. However, they marry and the story turns more into a narrative of life in Ottoman Turkey. Where you have to make sure you do not offend the Sultan by falling in love with your own prisoner without at least offering the spoils of war to him first. Where the whole court moves every summer to Adrianople. Where the Queen Mum can summon you to court. But where women although veiled have quite some freedom. Even more it seemed to me then she had in Spain. It seems to be based on a mention of a Spanish woman who was married to a Turkish admiral, in letters of the wife of an English diplomat at the Ottoman court. Interesting book. I reread it a year later and it was even better then because then you know it is no juicy romance but a realistic tale of a woman who had to take matters in her own hands and ended up very happy. In our days of internet and telephones you can hardly imagine however that couples would not see each other or even speak to each other for a year due to work and you would not even know if the other was still alive.
 

Monday, 10 April 2017

An impressive book about the scars of WW2: review of The women of the castle



(By The publisher) Bavaria, Germany. June, 1945.
The Third Reich has crumbled. The Russians are coming. Can Marianne von Lingenfels and the women in her care survive and build their ravaged world anew?
Marianne - widow of a resistor to the Nazi regime - returns to the grand, crumbling castle where she once played host to all of German high society. She assembles a makeshift family from the ruins of her husband's movement, rescuing her dearest friend's widow, Benita, from sexual slavery to the Russian army, and Ania from a work camp for political prisoners. She is certain their shared past will bind them together.
But as Benita begins a clandestine relationship and Ania struggles to conceal her role in the Nazi regime, Marianne learns that her clear-cut, highly principled world view has no place in these new, frightening and emotionally-charged days.
All three women must grapple with the realities they now face, and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times . . .
.
(My Review) 
I was very impressed by this book. The story starts during a party on Burg Lingenfels in the late 1930-ties. The husband of Marianne von Lingenfelt, her childhood friend Connie and some others decide after long deliberations to overthrow Hitler because they see him as evil. That is the only moment I have doubts about the book as the guys join the Von Stauffenberg putch but that takes place in 1944 so why wait that long?

Marianne, flat chested and bony, is married to her old university professor. She seems to have a happy marriage but it seems more a good partnership than a passionate love affair. During the party at the beginning of the book Connie kisses her and I believe this man is the love of her life. Someone she was in love with as a teenager but who never noticed her as more than a friend she thought. And then he kisses her like that and introduces her to his pregnant fiancee Benita a beautiful young girl and she wonders what to think of it all. Reading the book we learn that he always called Marianne The judge and said to Benita Marianne could be so cruel. What has Marianne wondening why.

Then the story jumps to 1945. The husbands are all executed and Marianne sets out to find Benita and Connie's son. They are joined by Ania another widow who hides a secret. The women try to survive in the ruined castle dealing with famine, former Nazies and raiding Russians.

The book ends in 1991 and a very old Marianne is asked to speech at a book presentation in Burg Langenfels that is now a New Age, human rights center. Marianne realises that she is unworthy of all the praise. That she was indeed a harsch judge all those years ago who put herself on a moral high horse and time has come to forgive and be forgiven. Meanwhile the daughter of a Nazi and the son of the man executed by the Nazies make love.

To prevent spoilers I cannot delve too much into the story but I was very impressed by this book. The story deals with all the muddy details of the war and the time after the war. Like one of the children was in a Nazi-home but thinks back kindly to the lady who ran it. It reminded me of my elderly neighbour who worked in Germany as forced labourer but called the farmer Mutti (mother) and even years after the war when he was married would go to visit the old German woman. Landowners getting shot by advancing Russians, the rapes, the bombed out houses, the refugee trails, the movies showing concentration camps, the youth camps of the Nazies when they were still fun, the moments that people realise mass killings take place, the condemnation of people who did not do wrongs, the ways people try to pay for their sins or not. 

It is a book you cannot stop reading and then you will think about it for days afterwards.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

A romance in the 15th century - The McKinnon the beginning

England, 15th century. Morgan finds her whole family slaughtered by an uncle who uses her as his ward to be able to rule her earldom. Her father had obtained a charter that his daughter would be able to rule it on her own after her 23rd birthday in the event he would die. When he uncle asks permission of the king to marry his ward and is turned down and her birthday is approaching Morgan fears for her life and escapes the castle posing as a stable-hand. In the forests she stumbles upon Sir Nic not knowing that he is ordered by the king to marry her (women and castles being seen as a reward).

The story is very well written but unfortunately the writer did cut the book in two parts and I got only part one to write a review about. I do not understand that marketing concept.

Monday, 3 April 2017

The hell of the Arctic runs during WW2: review of "Soldier, Sail North" by James Pattinson

This book was written in 1954 and is republished. It narrates the hell on earth that were the Arctic runs. The allies had promised Stalin to send him material to use in his fight against the Germans. The result were convoys under constant attack by the German navy and airforce.

Flint Whitlock describes it like this:
The voyages across the North Atlantic and from Iceland to the Russian ports of Murmansk, Archangel, and Kola Inlet involved more hazards than in any other kind of naval duty. Severe weather was commonplace. Ice fields could be encountered at any time of year. Floating mines were a constant menace. German submarines, surface craft, and warplanes could strike at will from nearby bases in German-occupied Norway. And, prior to the spring of 1943, when an effective Allied antisubmarine offensive got underway, ships and men making the so-called “Murmansk Run” had about one chance in three of returning.
This was no glamorous sea campaign, with full-sail, tall-masted men-of-war firing broadside after broadside into their enemy’s rigging. It was a cold, dirty, dangerous business in which seamen might be blown into a flaming sea of burning oil and left to die of wounds, burns, or hypothermia.
Once the convoys reached their destinations, there was no guarantee of safe harbor, either, for the Germans often attacked while the cargo ships were in port, unloading. Then there was the return trip.
The history of the convoy operations, which went on nearly continuously from the autumn of 1939 until May 1945, is one of intense suffering, great loss, unparalleled bravery, and uncompromising devotion to duty. The epic saga is one of the most remarkable chapters of World War II—one that has for too long been overshadowed by other events. (See: http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/running-the-gauntlet-the-murmansk-run-wwiis-arctic-convoys/)
It took many decades before those merchant sailors on the Murmansk runs were regarded as war veterans in the USA. No GI-bill benefits. And if I remember correctly only a few years ago the British survivors received a medal for having taken part in the campaign.

Most novels have one or maybe two or three central characters we readers can identify with. The heroes of the story. Here it is a whole team of gunners of the Maritime Royal Artillery who board the S.S. Golden Ray of Liverpool. The have to man the gun during the trip to Murmansk.

Of every gunner we come to know a bit of his background. But that is not enough to really bond with the person. However it is a great opportunity to narrate the different aspects of the war: The effects on marriages when the husband has to leave a few weeks into the marriage and only to return almost a year later, the bombardments on the British cities, the old officers who came back from retirement, the British communist and fascists movement, people surviving a sinking to see their mates die of hunger and thirst in the lifeboats, the very lives suddenly cut short. The book works well as a kind of history book.

The writer accomplishes to make you feel the stress. Icy waters with wolfpacks lurking in the depths, planes circling that are the scouts of the attack that will come. Ships going up in balls of flames all around you.

What is also quite special is that the only Germans mentioned are a pilot who is shot while he is floating by after his plane went down (by then a warcrime too) and the captain of a submarine who is described as quite a good bloke because he hands out food and water to survivors in a lifeboat.

The cover of the book is a real ship from the Arctic runs.

An interesting read.

There are a few editing issues in the beginning with words slurring together. I am sure the publisher will amend that.




How "un-sexy" can a novel be? Review of "The disappearence of Catherine Brodie"

Scanning NetGalley for new novels to read and review I noticed one with a beautiful cover. NetGalley qualified it as erotica but as my 18th birthday passed over 30 years ago that should not be a problem and the description sounded interesting: a young law student lies to her parents to attend a party and her parents and brother die as a result of that (it seemed). Every birthday after that she meets Alex somehow. And it is obvious people mean her harm.

To my surprise the book seemed to be a coming of age story for young adults. Well at least for 70% into the story. Then all of a sudden things like groupsex and kinkclubs it is. And that does not seem suitable for the young readers.

It is an accomplishment in itself to write sexscenes that are so unerotic. If you want to write about stuff like that why stop in the middle of things? How old is the author?

What irritated me from the start was the kind of "voice over"- style of telling a story. It felt like a summary of someone's biography.

It also did not help that all of a sudden the book ended and people are supposed to buy a part two.

Not a fan!


Monday, 27 March 2017

Review of "Revolution" by Piet Hein Wokke - Brilliant novel set in the Middle East

One of the best novels I read in a long time! "Shepherds use religion to fight; sheep fight over religion". It is one of the great quotes in the novel written by Dutch historian Piet Hein Wokke (3 June 1985) who studied history in Groningen, focusing on contemporary conflicts and Middle Eastern history. Even when the book is set in a fictitious country called Beledar situated between Jordan and Iraq, the novel sheds light on many real things regarding the region while telling a captivating story in the meantime: What is the difference between the Sunni and the Shi'a muslims? Why did people call followers of Islam Mohammedans in the past and why do Muslims prefer to be called Muslims? (Because they think the term Mohammedans implies they worship Mohammed like Christians worship Christ). And when you are familiar with the history of the region you recognise elements of Jordanian and Iraqi historic facts in the tale of fantasy Beledar.

The story is about two young boys: Abdullah and Khalid who are just in their teens when the story starts and when young emir Jalal (who will become King later on) takes over the reign from his father. Still children both boys have to kill someone.

Abdullah is a street rat from the city who is given the chance to go and work for king Jalal. Khalid a younger son of a more or less well-to-do merchant from a desert oasis who runs away to the army with his brother and rises through the ranks.

We follow both boys growing up into men and in between we see short glimpses of King Jelal who in my opinion is the real hero of the story. A king who quotes Shakespeare, is aware he is a descendant of the prophet Mohammed but refuses to believe in a God as mankind is "shortsighted, self-centered and treacherous" and no God would create a species like that in his opinion. Although an Arab lord he is more British than anything else. Stiff upper lip and all.

Beledar is emerging into something more modern under King Jelal but not everyone likes that policy so under a prospering society currents of discontent are whirling.


In the end it is the conscience and courage of both Abdullah and Khalid that are tested. And unlike in his youth when revenge was brought upon someone here one of them says in the end: "Retribution for an injury is equal injury. However who forgives an injury and make reconciliation will be rewarded by God" and the other man feels the eyes of the king burning into his soul again.

I have the feeling the writer wants to continue the story in another book. Maybe that is one of the reasons some things are not crystal clear in the end. The writer choose sto show us a glimpse into the future of Beledar and our hero. I would have advised against that or to continue writing the whole story.

Nevertheless a brilliant book that had my Muslim colleague and I discussing it. I certainly can recommend buying it. I myself was given the opportunity of an advanced copy for the Netgalley-site.





Monday, 20 March 2017

Review of "The strings of the Lute" - a book about love and a view into Moroccan, American and French daily life

The lute in the title is the instrument Moroccan Larbi was given by an uncle to help him overcome his grief. Later on in his life he gives the instrument to a friend to help her cope with her loss.

This is a book about love: the love between two girl friends growing up together, the love between a Moroccan architect and a girl from the US, the love between parents and children and the lingering love for people departed.

The book starts slow and it took me awhile to start liking it - it is not so much a novel as someone telling you their lifestory - but it becomes a lot more interesting when she meets Larbi. The writer successfully brings the world in it to life. The French town, the Moroccan daily life. As the writer is living for decades in Morocco the book gives you in my opinion a real glimpse of Moroccan life. I wondered if some things were not more or less a personal memoir.

At first I had the feeling the writer ended the book too suddenly. I was annoyed how the girlfriend did not tell the husband about how happy his wife had been when she had discovered something. The limbo we as readers ended up in. But after a day or so - while I was still thinking about the novel - I think that limbo might be part of the charm.