EXCERPT: Most of Simone’s warm clothes still appeared untouched. Funny. I’d have thought she’d have needed them in Europe. There at the back was a well-loved teddy bear. So much for her claim of having got rid of all soft toys by the age of ten. The yellow ribbed cardigan next to it was actually mine. A cigarette burn went through the right elbow. Well, that would explain why she had never returned it. I sniffed the cardigan and picked up a faint scent of Femme de Rochas which, in Mother’s opinion, reeked of sharmouta. I returned the cardigan to the drawer alongside a stack of monogrammed handkerchiefs and Mother’s ubiquitous cotton bags for socks and tights.
Inside the white painted bedside table, I found various nail varnishes, a Mary Quant lipstick, and a lipstick brush. In the drawer lay a few 45 rpm records. Bobby Azzam’s big hit would never be the same again now that Simone had gone. I sang ‘Ya Mustafa’ softly to myself, willing the tune to work its magic and bring her back.
ABOUT ‘THE GIRLS FROM ALEXANDRIA’: 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.
MY THOUGHTS: Other than odd passages, such as the one above, The Girls From Alexandria is strangely detached. I expected a little, no, to be truthful, A LOT more emotion.
Although I found the history of Egypt, and particularly Alexandria, interesting, I sometimes wondered if the author were more interested in imparting that, than solving the mystery of where Simone had disappeared to. It ought to have been an interesting backdrop to the main story, but at times overwhelmed it. Although I have to admit that at times, as I was reading, I would exclaim, ‘I remember that happening!’
I also found the constant shifts in the timeline from the past (1950s onwards) to more recent times a little hard to follow as they jumped all over the place, but I guess that this was forgivable as we were remembering through Nadia’s muddled mind.
I liked the character of Nadia, but never connected with her, or really got to know her. I did, however, develop an interest in Alexandria and Googled it to find out more. If I ever get to travel to Egypt, I will certainly head there. The author’s knowledge of and love for Alexandria shone through her writing, as did her medical knowledge.
Reading through my review, it sounds as though I really didn’t like this book at all. But I did. A little. I would love to have liked it a whole lot more.
I: @drcarolcooper @agorabooksldn
T: @DrCarolCooper @AgoraBooksLDN
THE AUTHOR: Dr Carol Cooper is a practising family doctor, journalist, and mother of twins. She writes for The Sun newspaper and teaches medical students at Imperial College. Her non-fiction books include a number of parenting titles and an award-winning medical textbook. She is honorary consultant in family medicine to Tamba (the Twins & Multiple Births Association), and gives regular talks to those expecting twins, triplets, or more. Carol also broadcasts on TV and radio, and is President of the Guild of Health Writers. She has two novels to her name.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girls From Alexandria by Carol Cooper for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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