Monday, March 12, 2018

The Confusion of Languages

This is the story of a friendship gone awry, a culture clash, and the heartbreaking reality of unintended consequences. Cassandra and her husband Dan are living in Amman, Jordan, where he is a military officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy. They are childless but have been trying unsuccessfully for years to change that situation, and this has put a strain on their relationship and their interactions with others. Cassie feels unmoored and unloved and without friends. Into the lives of this couple in crisis appear Crick, Margaret, and their infant son Mather. Crick has been newly assigned to the Embassy, and Cassie and Dan are their welcome committee, tasked with helping them acclimate to life in Jordan. Cassie is a strict rule-follower, a no-nonsense person who strives to pass on her knowledge and fears to Margaret. And she is desperate for a friend, someone with whom she can share confidences. Margaret will have none of it. She likes Cassie but is a free spirit, and refuses to adhere to Cassie's (and the Embassy's) warnings about wearing moderate dress, going nowhere on your own, and refraining from talking to men other than her husband. While Dan and Crick are gone on assignment to Italy for several weeks, Margaret chafes at her "cage," and begins exploring Jordan and making Jordanian friends. Cassie's jealousy and her genuine fear for Margaret lead her to take action that ultimately backfires, bringing heartbreak and loss to all of them. Siobhan Fallon is a master at revealing the subtleties and frailties of human behavior. Highly recommended for readers interested in literary fiction, the Middle East, and life in the military.

Kelly Currie

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

    I have often wondered what it would be like to live an immortal life. After reading The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer and now Dara Horn's, Eternal Life, I am certainly glad that I do not. Throughout the book, Dana examines the very essence of life. Dana illustrates the extremes of parental love, and the downfalls of eternal life.

     Rachel Azaria cannot die. She made a vow to forgo physical death to save her son. Rachel will go through hundreds of marriages, and generations of children. She will see them live, and she will see them die. When people start getting suspicious, she throws herself into a fire only to find herself, eighteen years old, in an unknown place just to start all over again.  

     However, she is not alone in this eternal journey, the father of her first son, Elazar, took the same spiritual bargain. Although their relationship is not what I consider healthy, they do love each other profoundly.

As the years progress, so does science, and hiding is not so easy for Rachel and Elazar.  To make matters even more complicated, her granddaughter, Hannah, is a scientist who studies and manipulates DNA. She is on the verge of discovering how to slow down the aging process. Hannah notices that her grandmother is aging phenomenally well, and asks if she could have a sample of her blood. Rachel grows furious at the request, and turns down the offer.  Surreptitiously, Hannah took a strand of Rachel's hair and discovers that Rachel's DNA reveals her at the age of eighteen! Rachel has no choice but to tell Hannah the truth.

All I can say is, after 2,000 years of living, I sympathize with Rachel's desire to finally die. This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. It is an exceptional read, and a real page-turner. It had me biting my nails in anticipation.

“the absolute loneliness, the bottomless homesick loneliness of years upon years of lies, the deep cold void of a loneliness no mortal can imagine.”
~Dana Horn, Eternal Life