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The Confusion of Languages

The Confusion of Languages

Blurb

Cassie and Margaret are two American expats living in Jordan a few months after the Arab Spring. Their friendship is one of circumstance, two opposites thrown together in the face of absent husbands.

When Margaret heads to the local police station to report a car accident Cassie stays behind to look after Margaret’s son, Mather. After a few hours Margaret hasn’t returns and Cassie starts to wonder where she has really gone and how much her actions have contributed to her disappearance.

This is a tale of jealousy, betrayal, clashing cultures and kindness.


Our Review

The Confusion of Languages was a completely surprising book, from the blurb it could have either been fantastic or terrible. Luckily for me it was the first one.

Cassie and Margaret are two American expats living in Jordan a few months after the Arab Spring. Their friendship is one of circumstance, two opposites thrown together in the face of absent husbands.

When Margaret heads to the local police station to report a car accident Cassie stays behind to look after Margaret’s son, Mather. After a few hours Margaret hasn’t returns and Cassie starts to wonder where she has really gone and how much her actions have contributed to her disappearance.

Siobhan Fallon paints a tale of jealousy, betrayal, clashing cultures and kindness.

Cassie sees herself as a good friend but in reality she comes across as a judgemental and interfering busy-body.

At the start of the book Cassie is pleased with herself for coaxing Margaret out of the house with her as things between them have been strained recently and it has been weeks since she has been invited into Margaret’s apartment.

Cassie’s husband Dan had signed them up to ‘sponsor’ the Brickshaws when they first arrived in Jordan. Cassie was furious when she found out because she knew the Brickshaws had a baby and she and Dan were currently struggling with fertility problems.

Whilst setting up their apartment for them her jealousy deepened when she realised that their apartment was much bigger and nicer than hers all because they were able to have children and she wasn’t.

When Cassie meets the Brickshaws she thinks Crick is charming and bit of a flirt and that Margaret is a bit flaky and like someone doing a poor impersonation of Marilyn Monroe.

Cassie becomes annoyed with Dan for smirking when she talks of home cooking when she hasn’t cooked anything since they arrived in Jordan but as she argues that is one of the main benefits in American wives following their husbands to Jordan – so they can have household help.

Cassie thinks Margaret is a sucker because she cannot pass a street vendor or the like without purchasing something, and generally overpaying.

She also becomes frustrated by her lack of adherence to the social norms and rules of the country they are living in, that the way she acts is often improper and could be considered offensive.

She is also jealous of Margaret’s relationship with her husband, Crick and her own husband Dan. She feels that Dan blames her for their inability to have a child. It has caused problems in their sex life but also in their daily intimacy.

Margaret, for her part, is pleased Cassie has decided to take her under her wing. She is shy and socially awkward. Un-used to social encounters because she spent the years before she met Crick looking after her sick mother.

Margaret likes to spend time looking words up in dictionary, thinking of their meanings. This is something she spent time doing in school. It gives her an unusual way of speaking. It makes for pleasant reading though, I loved reading all the different meanings of words and particularly enjoyed it when she started her Arabic lessons as I love anything to do with languages.

Margaret has an intense need to please people and for them to like her and deep down she knows this is why she spends so much money buying things from street vendors.

Margaret worries that Crick doesn’t really love her and that he only married her because she was pregnant with their son Mather.

She wants to explore the real Jordan, not the sterile version shown to her by but will her lack of adherence to societal rules get her into trouble?

One of my favourite things in The Confusion of Languages  were the vivid descriptions of life in Jordan for the locals, their societal norms and values and the culture in general.

I will definitely keep an eye out for Siobhan Fallon’s books in the future if this is the standard she sets. 

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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