[Download] ➸ When the Apricots Bloom By Gina Wilkinson – Alwaysonltd.co.uk

When the Apricots Bloom Let me start by saying I absolutely loved Gina Wilkinson s new book When the Apricots Blume I demolished it in two sittings which says a lot about Gina s ability to suck you into the lives of her three main characters Rania, Huda, and Ally It follows their lives in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein s totalitarian reign It is about friendship, informants, and fear for your family It is a story about what a mother will do for her family It is also perceptions of the past and what they mean for the people of today When the Apricots Bloom comes out in December keep an eye out for it as it s going to make waves.This review is based on NetGalley ARC provided in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion. Inspired By Her Own Experiences In Iraq During Saddam Hussein S Rule, Gina Wilkinson S Evocative, Suspenseful Debut Is Told Through The Eyes Of Three Very Different Women Confronting The Limits Of Friendship And Forgiveness, And The Strength Of A Mother S LoveAt Night, In Huda S Fragrant Garden, A Breeze Sweeps In From The Desert Encircling Baghdad, Rustling The Leaves Of Her Apricot Trees And Carrying Warning Of Visitors At Her Gate Huda, A Secretary At The Australian Embassy, Lives In Fear Of The Mukhabarat The Secret Police Who Watch And Listen For Any Scrap Of Information That Can Be Used Against America And Its Allies They Have Ordered Her To Befriend Ally Wilson, The Deputy Ambassador S Wife Huda Has No Wish To Be An Informant, But Fears For Her Teenaged Son, Who May Be Forced To Join A Deadly Militia Nor Does She Know That Ally Has Dangerous Secrets Of Her OwnHuda S Former Friend, Rania, Enjoyed A Privileged Upbringing As The Daughter Of A Sheikh Now Her Family S Wealth Is Gone, And Rania Too Is Battling To Keep Her Child Safe And A Roof Over Their Heads As The Women S Lives Intersect, Their Hidden Pasts Spill Into The Present Facing Possible Betrayal At Every Turn, All Three Must Trust In A Fragile, Newfound Loyalty, Even As They Discover How Much They Are Willing To Sacrifice To Protect Their Families When the Apricots Bloom by Gina G.D Wilkinson This novel focuses on friendships new and old, with a backdrop of modern Iraq and flashbacks of the Iraq of years past Although from very different backgrounds, Huda and Rania were friends from early childhood and marked by a blood oath they undertook together Political turmoil and perceived deadly betrayals tore these blood sisters apart and only one thing could ever bring them back together.Drastic times call for the unlikely reunion of two the women who struggle to consider that they could still trust and have loyalty to one another They are forced to deceive and cooperate with the regime in order to save their children Their relationship with Ally, a complicated Austrialian diplomat s wife, becomes very important and the reader sees that anyone can lie in the face of fear and when faced with the opportunity to do what is just.While the reader easily becomes invested in these fascinating characters, it is clear that Iraq herself is another character in this story She has undergone a transformation that makes her unrecognizable to those that only experienced her past or her present The reader is left rooting for her to return to her prior glory when the land was lush, society was lively, and her people were much free The author s note is not to be missed and provides a wonderful context to the story, making it even rich and meaningful I highly recommend this fast paced female character driven book I downloaded the free Sample pages from and I am so intrigued by the first chapters of this book Insight into the intimate lives of families manoeuvring themselves for survival in a frightening world of dictator rule has me hooked The settings are rich with colours and smells of the Middle East I can t wait for the full book to be released so I can keep reading I ve pre ordered Actual rating 3.5 starsAt night, in Huda s fragrant garden, a breeze sweeps in from the desert encircling Baghdad, rustling the leaves of her apricot trees and carrying warning of visitors at her gate Huda, a secretary at the Australian embassy, lives in fear of the mukhabarat the secret police who watch and listen for any scrap of information that can be used against America and its allies They have ordered her to befriend Ally Wilson, the deputy ambassador s wife Huda has no wish to be an informant, but fears for her teenaged son, who may be forced to join a deadly militia Nor does she know that Ally has dangerous secrets of her own.Huda s former friend, Rania, enjoyed a privileged upbringing as the daughter of a sheikh Now her family s wealth is gone, and Rania too is battling to keep her child safe and a roof over their heads As the women s lives intersect, their hidden pasts spill into the present Facing possible betrayal at every turn, all three must trust in a fragile, newfound loyalty, even as they discover how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect their familiesI want to start this review by saying that I immensely enjoyed the setting of this book Despite priding myself in reading excessively and always trying to read outside my comfort zone genres I am not an expert on or even ones I don t particularly like, trying to read books set in as many countries as possible etc I will admit that I had never read a book set in Iraq before at least, not a non academic one However, I am really interested in Middle Eastern cultures, so this book was very close to being my exact cup of tea Wonderful setting Check Women focused Check Really good prose Check And yetIt all fell a bit flat for me Despite taking place during Saddam Hussein s regime, the stakes never felt particularly high I believe the author could have focused a bit in creating a claustrophobic, terrifying atmosphere, in order to better explain, or even justify to an extent, her characters actions, feelings, and fearsEven a dead man could feel the tension in the air And the regret, thicker than the scent of orange blossom Out of the three main characters, my personal favourite was Rania the better developed one, however, was Ally, probably because the author could relate to her a bit I found both Huda and Rania lacking the delicate nuance, the understanding that comes with experiencing something for yourself firsthand, rather than having someone explain it to you They were in no way written in a disrespectful or belittling manner, but since the author herself is white, I think Ally s experiences were just closer to what she herself had experienced as a foreign correspondent in Baghdad.Overall, I foundWhen the Apricots Bloomto be a very enjoyable book Perhaps enjoyable is not exactly the right word to describe the experience of reading this particular book the subject matter is, after all, quite heavy but I adored the setting, and thought it made some very interesting points and observations Could it have benefited from another round of editing to add a bit depth to its characters Most definitely yes, but that doesn t mean that it wasn t a really good book anyway An ARC was provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I saw this book on Netgalley and I had to request the publisher to read it because I was drawn to two things on the blurb the fact that it s set in Iraq during Saddam s reign and the second aspect involved three different women I asked myself what could a secretary, an artist and a diplomat s wife have in common The story delves into the need for control by Saddam s government, enforcing rules and corrupt police officers who demand that people do as they ask and if they do not, someone close to them or simply the people themselves disappear The diplomats are also spied on by the Iraqis and the police visit anytime to glean information from the Iraqi spies mostly in their homes, reminding them of the hold they have on them.As the story begins, the author introduces us to both Huda and Rania, as young girls who take a blood oath to always protect each other s secrets As the story unravels, Huda comes off as the one who would go to any lengths to protect her family, including blackmailing her former childhood friend, Rania, and it does not help that she is also working for the police as an informant giving details of Ally s life.In reading this book, Huda was ice cold towards Rania and you could not help but wish that she could take a step back and soften towards her friend Rania on the other hand is the artist, both wise and calm and she knows when to push and when to refrain What I found oddly satisfying was that both women had suffered the loss of their loved ones at the turn of Saddam s reign, yet their approach towards this loss was utterly different Rania was warm towards people while Huda was aloof Her words could slice you open.Ally, the diplomat s wife, is noted as housewife on her Australian passport but her coming to Baghdad is not just to support her husband, Tom, but it s to find out about her mother a child s last hope of trying to put together the pieces of her mother s life She starts asking questions and soon learns that in a dictatorship, your words could make you or kill you, literally.The story of these three women is both nostalgic as it is heartbreaking and it reminded me of the countless number of lives that are affected in war torn countries, countries facing civil unrest, and so dictatorships.This book is also beautifully written that you cannot help but urge Huda, Rania and Ally on, in their quest and their friendship. I love this book I m not normally a suspense adventure book reader, but having complex female characters, living relatable lives during the reign of terror of Saddam in Iraq drew me in The three protaganists a diplomat s secretary, by virtue of her position gets caught up in the secret police s web as they believe she has access to secrets, the wife of the diplomat who is seeking to get to know her mother who died when she was a child, but who had lived some years in Iraq before she was born, and the daughter of a sheik who has fallen onto hard times under the new regime The women s lives become increasingly intertwined as the secret police turn the screws on the diplomat s secretary to give them ever information she doesn t possess The picture the book paints of the contrast between life before Saddam and during, and the inner conflicts and changes these women undergo is wonderfully done The tension building is magnficent It s easy to fall into their lives and imagine the decisions they felt they had to make as they progress through the story I won t ruin the ending, but it becomes ever thrilling and the tension kept me turning the pages and made it impossible to put down If you like complex characters, this book is for you If you like suspense and adventure, this book is also for you I highly recommend. When The Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson tells the tale of three women living in Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein while weaving in themes of loyalty, friendship, trust, and a mother s love.Raina and Huda are childhood friends who have sworn to be closer than sisters However, life, grief, and untold truths tear them apart as they grow The story joins the women as adults with Raina working as an artist and Huda working as a secretary for the Australian Ambassador to Iraq Huda is forced by the secret police to develop a friendship with the Ambassador s wife, Ally, and to keep them informed of her actions Meanwhile, Ally is attempting to learn about her own past and the secrets of her mother.This book, written by a former Ambassador s wife to Iraq whose friend was forced to inform on her, provides a captivating descroption of Iraq I finished the story caring deeply for the characters and inspired to read about the history of the country To me, that is the mark of a successful story. I appreciated the setting and story line of When the Apricots Bloom, which gave a glimpse into life under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein However, something felt missing to me It didn t captivate me as much as I anticipated from the book description It was still a highly readable debut that actually draws from the author s real life experiences. A very engaging read This has interesting characters in an interesting setting There s some suspense, and I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and the differences in culture vs the West I look forward the author s future work.Thanks very much for the ARC for review


About the Author: Gina Wilkinson

I m a former foreign correspondent, radio journalist, and documentary maker for the BBC, NPR, the ABC, and other well known public broadcasters, who decided to trade my flak jacket and reporter s notebook for an author s pen or keyboard.I ve been a nomad from the age of six months, when my parents packed me and our Siamese cat into an old Renault and set off for a remote gold mining town in Aus


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