Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Iris and Ruby - A Book Review by Voodoo Bride

Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas

What is it about:
Fragility and forgetfulness have left 82-year-old Iris vulnerable and in the care of her manservant, Mamdooh. Stiflingly quiet and claustrophobic, Iris's Cairo house is suddenly disturbed by the unexpected arrival of her troubled and wilful granddaughter, Ruby, who, labouring under a fraught relationship with her family, has run away from England to seek solace with the grandmother she hasn't seen for many years. An unlikely bond arises as the two women open themselves up to one another and Ruby helps Iris document her deteriorating memories of the vibrant life she enjoyed in Cairo during World War Two, a time when she lost her heart to her one true love-the enigmatic Captain Xan Molyneux-and then lost him to the ravages of the war.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
A bittersweet story about love and family.
It's well written and full of emotion and I can tell you I cry each time I read this book. The story switches back and forth between present day and World War Two. Both the story of how Iris and Ruby slowly get to know each other and the story of Iris' romance in WWII are compelling and beautiful, while intertwining with each other seemlessly. I especially love the parts of the book that are set in the past, which have a dreamlike quality to it. Part of this is because of how Iris remembers the past, but it's also because of the weird mood in Wartime Cairo: people party, love, lust and live life to the fullest while outside of Cairo the war rages on. Set against this almost mythical feeling Cairo is the Cairo of today, which is explored by Ruby, who sees the city without the coloured lenses of memory. This use of the city makes this story not just a story about people, but also makes it a homage to Cairo itself, an intriguing city that is both beautiful and sad.

Why should you read it:
It's a beautiful story about love.

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