10 Jun 2009

Iris And Ruby.

Iris And Ruby By Rosie Thomas.

The unexpected arrival of her wilful teenage granddaughter, Ruby brings life and disorder to 82-year-old Iris Black's old house in Cairo. Ruby, driven by her fraught relationship with her own mother to run away from England, is seeking refuge with the grandmother she hasn't seen for years.

An unlikely bond developers between them, as Ruby helps Iris to record her fading memories of the glittering, cosmopolitan Cairo of World War Two, and of her one true love - the enigmatic Captain Xan Molyneux - whom she lost to the ravages of the conflict.

This long-ago love has shaped Iris's life, and, as becomes increasingly apparent, those of her daughter and granddaughter. And is to affect them all, again, in ways they could not have imagined.

Iris And Ruby is the story of three generations of women - Grandmother Iris, daughter Lesley and nineteen year old granddaughter Ruby. Ruby is the typical teenager, rebellious, unhappy at home and unable to get along with her mother and step-father, who takes off to Egypt and her grandmother who gains a new lease of life with her granddaughter's arrival. Iris is a frail elderly women who, still grieving for her lost love and the child she miscarried over sixty years ago, is desperate to keep her now fading memories of times past. Whilst, the lesser portrayed, Lesley, is a woman looking for a love and acceptance she feels she has never had - neither from her mother (" She still wants Iris to be her mother. Even though she's fifty- whatever herself, she still wants a mum." ), nor from the men in her life or, indeed, the headstrong Ruby.

An enjoyable enough read with well drawn characters, both main as well as supporting, and vivid, well researched, descriptions of an Egypt both past and present. Mainly about relationships but also the differences as well as the similarities between the different generations and cultures, the novel, I felt was slightly let down by certain unrealistic events and an ending that, though begging for a sequel, was an easy option.

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