Tag Archives: Military

Book Buzz: The Confusion of Languages

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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