Whats it all about?:
At twenty-three, Saba Tarcan knows her only hope of escaping the clamor of Cardiff Bay, Wales, lies in her voice. While traveling Britain, singing for wounded soldiers, Saba meets handsome fighter pilot Dom Benson, recovering from burns after a crash. When Saba auditions to entertain troops in far-off lands, Dom follows her to London. Just as their relationship begins to take root, Saba is sent to sing in Africa, and Dom is assigned a new mission in the Middle East. As Saba explores Cairo’s bazaars, finding friendship among the troupe’s acrobats and dancers, Dom returns to the cockpit once again, both thrilled and terrified to be flying above the desert floor. In spite of great danger, the two resolve to reunite.
When Saba learns that her position makes her uniquely qualified for a secret mission of international importance, she agrees to help the British Secret Service, concealing her role from Dom. Her decision will jeopardize not only her safety but also the love of her life.
What did I think?:
This is on the Richard and Judy Spring 2013 book list so it was a must read for me. What I didn’t realise is that female entertainers were often given roles as spies during the war, although it makes sense if you think of the connections they could make and the travelling they experience. I haven’t read anything by Julia Gregson before, although I have her novel East of the Sun in my bulging bookcase that I am now looking forward to.
All in all, I thought this was a pretty great story. I went to Egypt on holiday last year, and the writing was so evocative, I could almost have been back there. Our main character Saba was made a bit quirkier by being half Turkish, half Welsh and although I was a bit sceptical of the love story at the beginning, the author made it work. The only quibble I have is that there seemed to be a few loose strings that I would have liked tied up at the end. For example, Saba never tells Dom exactly what happened to her, (trying to be careful with spoilers here!) and the issues with her father are never really resolved. Apart from that, a good read!
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):