The cover does not draw you in and I am a great one for covers. The book was however idyllic. The book covers two generations of two distinct families across two continents and with different social, racial and political ideas behind each family.
We have the romance of Anna - prim, very English, come to Egypt for a change of scene after the tragic death of her husband. We have the handsome Arab who decides to sacrifice all for the love of Anna and surprisingly we have a very loving, supportive Egyptian family and in fact a clan who all welcome Anna into their Egyptian hearts with much love and warmth, so unlike the British in Egypt who cold shouldered her and shunned her completely.
That is only one part - a very tiny part of the story. We have the political side which was one of turmoil, unrest, rebellion and deaths. Reminds me very much of what is happening in Homs right now. The description of the way the British acted in Egypt, over riding all Egyptian interests in any field - be it education, fine arts, agriculture or industry was something totally new to me. The nation was to be kept submissive and subdued so that British interests could prevail. The absolute dictatorship of those in power has to be read about to be believed. This was a major part of the book - the struggle of the Egyptian people to be heard.
The presence of Isabel Parkman, American by birth but linked to the ancestry of Anna and Sharif is another vital part of the story.
The book draws parallels of the Egyptian State as it were in 1901 as well as again in 1997 very reminiscent of the tensions in the Middle East - the lives and love stories which are intertwined are set as just an intrinsic part of the political scene unfolding in Egypt. The love stories which are very much part of the book are moving and very romantic. Maybe a tad too romantic for some but I personally enjoyed this book very much.
Fact and fiction were both part of the story but there is a lot of history in this book so that I am going to enter it as part of my Historical Fiction Challenge for 2012. I do wish the cover could have been more appealing though.