More than Confusion of Languages!

Written By: sherridaley - • •

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Not a patient person anyway, I was more than irritated by the Margaret Brickshaw character in this book. Well-intentioned but remarkably stupid in my opinion, Margaret follows her heart rather than social conventions when she finds herself immersed in Middle Eastern  culture.

Both Margaret and Cassie Hugo are young wives married to soldiers stationed in Jordan. Cassie and her husband Dan have been there for two years before Margaret and her husband Creighton arrive. The husbands are military colleagues and friends, but Cassie meets Margaret for the first time early in the book and understands she needs to help Margaret get settled in an unfamiliar country.

Which is not as easy as we’d hope.

First of all, Margaret and Creighton (His nickname is Crick.) have an adorable baby. Cassie and Dan have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant and Cassie is empty and ruined and sad. The baby, with the rather sophisticated name of Mather, pulls at Cassie’s heart and marriage. Margaret takes the baby for granted. It is, after all, her baby and there’s nothing particularly amazing about having a baby.  Unless of course you can’t have one.

Also, Crick is a bit of a flirt around Cassie, and Dan doesn’t really understand the bleeding ache in his wife’s heart because she can’t procreate.  Cassie tries to mentor Margaret through the complicated rules of being a woman living in the Middle East while swallowing her envy about Mather. Margaret tries to balance her female spontaneity with what she thinks are unnecessary restrictive protocols in her everyday life.

These four people orbit one another, sometimes touching, sometimes not, sometimes hurting each other without meaning to.  But the awkwardness extends far beyond the two couples. There’s a cultural awkwardness with horrid repercussions and it’s all Margaret’s innocent fault.  Unless you question Cassie’s motives, which I advise you not to.

All along the way, I wanted things to go differently and I wanted to like the characters more than I did. I became enmeshed in the mess they were all making, unable to blame one character more than another.

It doesn’t end well.





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