Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book Review ~ THE CONFUSION OF LANUAGES by Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages
by Siobhan Fallon
Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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.  

With achingly honest prose and riveting characters, The Confusion of Languages plunges readers into a shattering collision between two women and two worlds, affirming Siobhan Fallon as a powerful voice in American fiction and a storyteller not to be missed.

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Margaret and Cassie are military wives, living in Jordan with their husbands who work in the American Embassy.  Cassie has been there the longest, so she takes Margaret under her wing, trying to teach her the customs of the country as well as the do’s and don’ts. Cassie is a ‘by the book’ woman and Margaret likes to go against the grain. 

Margaret craves friendship and her kindness to others has her finding herself in some awkward situations.  At the beginning, it seemed she just didn’t care about the customs of the country, but as the story continued, I believe that she truly did care, she just wanted to fit in so desperately and wanted to be liked by everyone, but her somewhat sheltered life and lack of common sense proved to be her downfall.  She was very insecure with her marriage which also didn’t help matters much.

Cassie was the mother hen figure and really wanted to help Margaret out, but I don’t believe she knew how to go about it.  Margaret seemed not to take her advice, so I think she just started to give up on her and not care.  Her marriage is not going so well either because she feels her life is incomplete because she can’t have children.

After a fender bender, Margaret leaves her adorable son with Cassie while she goes to the police station to take care of business.  When Margaret does not come home after a while, Cassie starts to read Margaret’s journal, and she begins to understand her a little more. What the reader begins to realize is that not only is there a lack of communication in their foreign home, there is also a lack of communication amongst themselves which in the end will end dreadfully.

It took me a little bit to really get into the story, but when I finally connected with it, I found it impossible to put down. Told in dual point of views and part of the story in a diary format, this tragic story is beautifully written with vivid descriptions and spectacular imagery, providing the reader with a captivating reading experience that is truly unique.  Fallon has crafted a meticulously researched and haunting novel that is both riveting and fascinating that will surely keep readers enthralled throughout.

4 stars

Siobhan Fallon is the author of the 2012 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction winner You Know When the Men Are Gone. She is also the recipient of the 2012 Indies Choice Honor Award and the Texas Institute of Letters Award for First Fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post Magazine, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Military Spouse, The Huffington Post, and NPR’s Morning Edition, among others. She was raised in Highland Falls, New York, just outside the gates of the United States Military Academy at West Point. She graduated from Providence College and spent a year at Cambridge University in England. After teaching English in Japan, she earned an MFA at the New School in New York City. She and her family moved to Jordan in 2011, and they currently live in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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