Monday, 13 June 2011

Bee Rowlatt & May Witwit: Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship

May is a tough-talking, hard-smoking, lecturer in English. She's also an Iraqi from a Sunni-Shi'ite background living in Baghdad, dodging bullets before breakfast and battling through blockades to reach her class of Jane Austen-studying girls. Bee is a London mum of three, fighting off PTA meetings and chicken pox, and generally juggling work and family. They should have nothing in common. But when a simple email brings them together, they discover a friendship that overcomes all their differences of culture, religion and age. And, between the grenades, the gossip, the jokes and the secrets, they also hatch an ingenious plan to help May escape the bombings of Baghdad . . .

This is a fascinating read. It's an absolutely fascinating and unbelievable story and it makes for a gripping read. I couldn't wait to finish this book, which left me somehow disappointed, as it doesn't tell us anything about how May and her husband Ali coped with the final escape to the UK. At times, I found it hard to empathise with May and Bee, but the story definitely opened my eyes for the difficulties the war in Iraq has brought for its population. I'm keen to discuss this book with many others!

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