With her first novel, In the Eye of the Sun, Ahdaf Soueif garnered comparisons to Tolstoy, Flaubert, and George Eliot. In her latest novel, which was shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize, she combines the romantic skill of the nineteenth-century novelists with a very modern sense of culture and politicsboth sexual and international.
At either end of the twentieth century, two women fall in love with men outside their familiar worlds. In 1901, Anna Winterbourne, recently widowed, leaves England for Egypt, an outpost of the Empire roiling with nationalist sentiment. Far from the comfrot of the British colony, she finds herself enraptured by the real Egypt and in love with Sharaif Pasha al-Baroudi. Nearly a hundred years later, Isabel Parkman, a divorced American journalist and descendant of Anna and Sharif, has fallen in love with a gifted and difficult Egyptian-American conductor with his own passionate politics. In an attempt to understand her conflicting emotions and to discover the truth behind her heritage, Isabel, too, travels to Egypt, where she gradually unravels the story of Anna and Sharif's love.
Joining the romance and intricate storytelling of A.S. Byatt's Possession with the lyrical sensuality of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, Ahdef Soueif has once again created a mesmerizing tale of geniune eloquence and lasting importance.
Epic....Soueif is at her most eloquent on the subject of her homeland, her prose rich with historical detail and debate. Ultimately, Egypt emerges as the true heroine of this novel.