The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon – a Review
Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.
Written with emotional insight and stunning prose, The Confusion of Languages is a shattering portrait of a collision between two women and two worlds, as well as a poignant glimpse into the private lives of American military families living overseas.
The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon is a story about two military families, centering on two wives, living overseas in the Middle East (Jordan); the time is around 2011, when Osama Bin Laden was killed. The two women are Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw. Cassie and her husband Dan, are considered veterans living in the US Embassy for about two years. When Margaret arrives in Jordan with her husband, Crick, Cassie will try to help her get acclimated to this way of life. The two women are complete opposites, with Cassie, a stickler for following the rules and Margaret, a rule breaker talking to everyone, even those she should not be mingling with. The other detail is that Margaret has a young son, Mather, and Cassie, who wants desperately to have children, is childless.
When their husbands are sent to Rome on an assignment, they tell Cassie to keep an eye on Margaret. When there is a vendor bender accident, Margaret goes to report her accident to the police, while Cassie stays back to watch Mather. As the hours pass, and Margaret has not returned, Cassie becomes worried, and contacts Crick to have the embassy find her. While waiting, she comes across Margaret’s diary and we learn more about her life, as well as what Margaret has been doing during her stay in Jordan. Margaret, being her careless self, will befriend some Jordanian people, which will cause problems for all, as the Jordanian rules do not allow for this.
What follows is an interesting and somewhat complex storyline of two women so different, yet thrown together in a dangerous and different environment. The two main protagonists, Cassie & Margaret were to me not really likable. Cassie, being lonely and taught to follow rules came across as sarcastic at times. Margaret was a bit too flighty and not responsible. There were some surprises and twists along the way, which did help the story line.
The Confusion of Languages was a different type of read for me. I thought it was interesting, but not sure I would read this type of book again. Though I will say that the writing of Siobhan Fallon was very well done, and I did read that she has experienced military life abroad. If you enjoy these types of stories, you can’t go wrong with this book, especially so well written by Fallon.
Reviewed by Barb
Copy provided by Publisher