Maha Gargash is a really good story teller, unfortunately she was not telling a good story!
What we have here is an Emarati setting with Emarati characters, but with a plot that could have been anywhere in the world, but not the emirates!
Our main character, Noora, is a seventeen year old mountain girl who lives in an isolated place with her brothers, after her father disappears, her older brother arranges a marriage to her via some healer, she leaves home to her aunts house in anger, has a brief romance, returns home only to be wed to a much older man, he already has two wives, but no children, she leaves across the water to his home town and realizes she is required to give him a child!
It's 1950, and the historical details are quite accurate, daily life is described beautifully, I found no fault in them, but I did have a bit of a doubt about the healer woman, she was described like a witch in a fantasy book, but then my ancestors were seafarers not mountain people??
Noora's character grow from an unruly child to a clever women, only she was lively and became sly, the character matured but not to the best. She was totally clueless and lost, I think she did things stupidly, but then turned into a calculating person who planned and plotted.
Other character didn't have enough of a clarity or a development, Jassim's first wife Lateefa acts like a mother figure to Noora, but in reality she plans the cruelest deceits, but we're never told her reasons!! Are we supposed to be totally chocked and hate her?? She actually didn't do it, she just made easy, Noora was just stupid enough to do it and I have no respect to anything she did in the book, to me she is the bad guy.
Alot of things are left unexplained, which was a bit distracting.
And the major plot twist is just totally unacceptable, not to this society religion and strict teaching, I'm not ignorant of the fact that things happen, but not like this, and well not at that time, it was just unbelievable and totally ruined the book for me.
I wish Gargash would write another book full of the beautiful descriptions of our history, but stay away from controversial topics, perhaps more on the pearl divers and their hardship and the difficult waiting of their families.
The ending, although its supposed to be an open end, it's not clever, it was dissapointing.
Would I recommend this book to others: yes, but not to anyone.
Would I be interested in reading more from the author: Yes, but she needs to learn her limits!