The year is 1967. Gin Mitchell knows a better life awaits her when she marries Mason McPhee. But nothing can prepare her for the world she and Mason step into when he takes a job with the Arabian American Oil company in Saudi Arabia.
In the gated compound of Abqaiq, Gin and Mason are given a home with marble floors, a houseboy to cook their meals, and a gardener to tend the sandy patch out back. Even among the veiled women and strict laws, Gin's life has become the stuff of fairy tales. But when a young Bedouin woman is found dead, washed up on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Gin's world closes in around her, and the one person she trusts is nowhere to be found.
©2012 Kim Barnes (P)2012 Dreamscape Media, LLC
"Barnes deftly teases humanity out of corruption and hypocrisy, and her language is finely wrought and her pacing masterful..." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"Barnes writes poetically and intensely about personal conflict and subtly informs the reader about continuing Western misunderstandings of Middle Eastern culture." (Kirkus Reviews)
"One of Vogue's Six Summer Reads" (Vogue)
(Warning: spoilers) The writing was excellent and the characters were fairly well developed but the book disappointed me. I realize that life doesn't always finish every human situation with tidy little endings but it seemed like every single aspect of this story was left unresolved. We'll never know what really happened to Mason or to the Indian houseboy, Yosh, who you come to adore. You never even know what happens to Gin in the long run. The reader leaves her mouldering away, depressed, in an apartment in Rome (or was it Venice?.) Too bad because the story was gripping and at some points I couldn't put the book down. I realize now that I could have put it down at any point and gone away with as much a feeling of completion as I had at the end. Yes, some, or maybe even most, people's stories have incomplete endings, but are they worth writing a book about? All I can think is that this story was supposed to leave the reader with a hint at the shadiness of the oil industry. If so, it succeeds, but I think most of us were already aware of this. All I can say is I hope she writes a sequel.
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