Book Buzz: The Confusion of Languages

Oh my. This book.

Book Buzz: The Confusion of Languages

The Confusion of Languages, a novel written by the talented Siobhan Fallon, is so worthy of a book group discussion that I wish I could find one right this minute to talk about it.

The Confusion of Languages

The story is about two military families stationed in Amman, Jordan at a time of tenuous calm, during the rise of the Arab Spring. When Crick Brickshaw, his wife Margaret and their infant son arrive, the expat community is happy to welcome some new faces. Dan Hugo and his wife Cassie have been stationed in Amman for two years. They volunteer to take the Brickshaws under their wing to ease them into Jordanian society.

Cassie and Margaret become fast friends even though they are very different. Cassie is a by-the-rules kind of girl, while Margaret is a free spirit. Cassie warns Margaret that many things we take for granted in America are strictly forbidden in a Middle Eastern country. Covering up when she goes out in public, not interacting with other men, not going out on her own without at least telling someone — these are all imperatives.

For foreigners, life in Amman is unpredictable and as the political unrest grows potentially life threatening. The families are notified by the Embassy when there are protests in the streets, are steered away from hot spots, and sometimes told to stay home with the curtains drawn.

Margaret blithely ignores the admonitions and is determined to do her own thing. She is awed by the beauty and history of the country and wants to experience it first-hand, happily befriending every Jordanian she meets. Cassie is aghast at Margaret’s disregard of the rules, and this strains their friendship.

The men find out they are about to be deployed to Italy and Crick, aware of his wife’s vulnerability, asks Cassie to watch over Margaret.

The story takes place on just one day, when Margaret is involved in a fender bender and leaves the baby in Cassie’s care while she goes to the police station to pay the fine. As the hours tick by and Cassie is unable to reach her friend, she is fearful that something bad has happened. Walking around the apartment, she finds Margaret’s journal and reads the entries, shocked to learn of a side of her friend she never knew.

The confusion of languages means many things in this novel. The disconnect between cultures, between friends, between married couples. How should women behave in a foreign country? As guests in another country, are we obliged to follow the rules, or try to bend them?

Wow. I loved The Confusion of Languages. A page turner with an intense, nail biting plot, it also is nuanced and complex with its underlying themes. Further, it is a fascinating look into the world of military life and the stresses these families face.


One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Confusion of Languages. Please leave a comment and a winner will be randomly selected. US addresses only, please.


I received a copy of The Confusion of Languages from G.P. Putnam’s Sons for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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50 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: The Confusion of Languages

  1. The Playful Parent on June 29, 2017 at 9:33 am said:

    I was just looking for a new book to read this summer this looks perfect

  2. This sounds like a really interesting read for the summer, I love that it sounds like a real page-turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

  3. I have never heard of Siobhan Fallon, but this book sounds amazing. I will definitely be checking it out after I am done with my current book.

  4. The Confusion of Languages sounds like an interesting book for those who like the genre. I had never heard of Siobhan Fallon before your post.

  5. Sounds like a great read. Now I need a chair on the beach and a book.

  6. Sounds like an intense and amazing read! My reading list is already so long but I’ll happily add this book to it! xx corinne

  7. Sola on June 29, 2017 at 2:14 pm said:

    I was looking or my next beach read and you’ve convinced me that this is it. What an necessary story for this time.

  8. As a Veteran wife I’m always interested in good military-related novels. This one looks like it’s well worth the read! I think I’ll bump it to the top of my summer reading list.

    • hbludman on June 29, 2017 at 4:33 pm said:

      I think military families will appreciate the honest portrayal of the stresses they go through.

  9. I’m always looking for page turners… and anything set in the middle east has to be interesting! Thanks for the rec.

  10. Wow this book sounds epic. I love military based novels so ill have to check this out

  11. colleen wool on June 29, 2017 at 3:26 pm said:

    I have a large collection of books. This looks like a good one to add.

  12. Thank you for the review! This sounds like a book that I’d enjoy. I love to read!

  13. It sounds like a fascinating book. The fish out of water combined with new friends with an unsuspected history makes for an interesting setup.

  14. Definitely sharing this with a few friends. I am more info scientific papers and biographies. Also, I am not a US resident so that disqualifies me from winning it, to save you the trouble. =D

  15. The books sounds really good. Now if I only had time.

  16. I think I have to read this book purely because it has a character with my name!

  17. What a thoughtful, intriguing read. The Confusion of Languages provides a lot of food for thought about diversity, our interactions with one another, and how we actually feel as foreigners in a different country surrounded by a culture that’s not our own.

  18. Sounds like a great book; a perfect holiday read!

  19. The Confusion of Languages..seems to be great book! I will keep this book in my reading list.

  20. Your description has me hooked to read it. Too bad this is only open for the US. I may look it up on kindle.

  21. Alison Rost on June 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm said:

    The language theme hooked me!

    Then a novel about repatriating somewhere… kinda dimmed things.

    Then the character descriptions intrigued me back!

    Then some plot notes made me shake my head… maybe not.

    But then finding out a hidden side in a journal?

    OK, I am so there! Looking forward to this one. 🙂

  22. What an interesting book! I have about 8 books on my to read list (and currently on my floor haha) it looks like I’ll have to add another one!

  23. Agentszerozerosetter on June 30, 2017 at 7:19 pm said:

    I love reading, and the history of this book seems really interesting! Will check for it, during summer I have more time and I always search something new to read!

  24. Hmmm this sounds very interesting. Does it talk much about the lifestyle in Jorda?

  25. Ophelia Tang on July 1, 2017 at 1:42 am said:

    This novel sounds so interesting. I want to read this soon. Thanks for sharing.
    XOXO //SINCERELY OPHELIA | NYC Petite Fashion Blogger

  26. I’m intrigued! It seems just the perfect book to read on holiday 🙂

  27. I am a total bookworm, and this sounds so good. I’m going to see if I can find it at the library.

  28. Blair villanueva on July 1, 2017 at 10:27 am said:

    Reading this book will makes you travel to Jordan and appreciates its beauty. Very interesting! I will check this, hope there is an ebook.

  29. Oh my goodness, I BET it was a nail biter. You really left me hanging with this book review, Helene. I can’t wait to find out what happens.

    I don’t know what I’d do if I were in Margaret’s place, wondering where her friend is. And I’m dying to know what the journal revealed. As always, an excellent book review! xo

  30. This sounds like a good read! I’m going to check this one out.

  31. Wow indeed, Helene. This looks like a great read especially for someone like me who is living between cultures.

  32. wendy on July 1, 2017 at 7:53 pm said:

    I will have to check out this book! It sounds like a fascinating read for this summer.

  33. Ali Rost on July 1, 2017 at 8:20 pm said:

    You had my interest with a story about expats; always interesting.

    Then I wasn’t so sure about family life portrayal, not my cup.

    BUT! The intrigue heats up; I’m back!

    But… maybe the plot moves are too far fetched.

    Wait; truths found in a journal?

    OK,. then; I’m in!!!

  34. Elizabeth O on July 4, 2017 at 7:38 pm said:

    This does sound like an intriguing tale with complex situations and characters along for the ride. I’d love to read this book.

  35. What a great book review! You always pull me in and I take the time to read what you write. Book reviews can be hard to write, so thank you for always painting a picture for me. This book sounds very good!

  36. Megan on July 6, 2017 at 10:53 pm said:

    I was on the edge of my seat reading your explanation! I’m going to pick this book up tomorrow!

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