**NAMED ONE OF '51 FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2023' (WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF BOOKS)
LONGLISTED FOR THE BRIDPORT NOVEL AWARD
In beautifully rendered prose, a mother and a daughter struggle as outsiders in Baghdad and London in this intergenerational drama set against a background of political tension and intrigue**
“Who would be charmed by tales of life in the beautiful old house on the banks of the Tigris—looted now no doubt, its shutters torn and the courtyard strewn with mattresses?”
One night in 2003, Anglo-Iraqi psychiatrist Mona Haddad has a surprise visitor to her London office, an old acquaintance Duncan Claybourne. But why has he come? Will his confession finally lay bare what happened to her family before they escaped Iraq?
Their stories begin in 1937, when Mona’s mother Diane, a lively Englishwoman newly married to Ibrahim, an ambitious Iraqi doctor, meets Duncan by chance. Diane is working as a nanny for the Iraqi royal family. Duncan is a young British Embassy officer in Baghdad. When the king dies in a mysterious accident, Ibrahim and his family suspect Diane of colluding with Duncan and the British.
Summoning up the vanished world of mid-twentieth-century Baghdad, Elizabeth Loudon’s richly evocative story of one family calls into question British attitudes and policies in Iraq and offers up a penetrating reflection on cross-cultural marriage and the lives of women caught between different worlds.