Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle (Paperback published April 29th)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Welcome to my stop on the tour for this evocative novel. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
‘A compelling, multi-layered read – equal parts funny, frank and sinister’ – Fiona Valpy, author of The Dressmaker’s Gift
Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.
Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.
Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.
Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.
Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s third novel is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.
Seventy-year-old Nadia is in a London hospital and not quite sure what’s going on. Her memory isn’t what it used to be, and she keeps getting confused and misremembering. But one thing she’s sure of is that she needs to find her sister Simone, who she hasn’t seen in fifty years. The problem is, no one else believes Simone exists. Well, no one except the lovely nurse Deidre, who tries to help her find her sister before it’s too late.
The author opens the book talking about how her inspiration for the story came from her own memories of growing up in Alexandria and you can really feel that authenticity radiating from the pages. The author offers the reader not only an insight into the cultural and political landscape of Egypt, but also an authentic perspective on how it feels to grow up in Alexandria, its multiculturalism and verve oozing from the pages. It is a fascinating, educational and thought-provoking read, the author touching on a variety of subjects such as family, identity, loss, loneliness and female empowerment.
Nadia is a character I won’t soon forget. It is impossible not to feel for her lying in hospital distressed, confused and alone. But there is so much more to her. She is a nuanced, funny, compelling and feisty character who is determined to find her sister by solving the brief, cryptic messages she wrote on decades-old postcards; even learning how to use the internet to search for answers. I enjoyed following her through timelines, countries and cultures as she revisited old memories and searched them for any small clue that might lead her to her beloved sister.
I will admit that it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of this story. The huge shift between the bleak British hospital where Nadia languishes alone and confused and the striking, sunny backdrop of Alexandria was difficult to follow at first, particularly as the flashbacks don’t follow a chronological order. But once I did I was engrossed, lost in Nadia’s story and fully invested in her search for Simone.
This novel is unlike anything else I’ve read. Merging historical fiction, mystery and coming-of-age fiction,, the author has crafted a multilayered, evocative and affecting story that will linger long after reading.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Carol graduated in medicine from Cambridge University. She then spent time in different hospital specialities, including orthopaedic surgery and rheumatology, before entering general practice when her first son was born.
Carol’s journalism and broadcasting developed in tandem with GP work, and she is now well-known as a media medic. She writes for The Sun newspaper and other titles, and broadcasts on TV and radio on topical health issues.
Many of Carol’s non-fiction books are on child health and parenting, such as the much-loved guide Twins & Multiple Births, and the titles combine her professional expertise and her personal experience as a mother. As co-author of the book General Practice at a Glance, Carol won a British Medical Association book award in 2013. A companion volume, General Practice Cases at a Glance, appeared later.
Carol’s frivolous side has never been far from the surface. She became a columnist for Punch magazine and her articles can still be read in dentists’ waiting rooms. Her contemporary novels One Night at the Jacaranda and Hampstead Fever are also infused with a sharp wit. Her next novel, The Girls from Alexandria, is due to be published in April 2021.
At Imperial College, London, Carol teaches medical students consultation skills, clinical reasoning, and medicine in the media.
Carol is a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, a trustee of Action on Pre-Eclampsia, an ambassador for Lucy Air Ambulance for Children, and honorary consultant in family medicine for the Twins Trust (formerly Tamba). She was elected President of the Guild of Health Writers in 2014.
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Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx