It was a real pleasure, back in August, to welcome Jo Jackson to Being Anne to share some of the background to her novel, Too Loud A Silence – published by Apedale Press, and available in paperback and for kindle. You might remember her very affecting story about the orphaned Egyptian twins – and you can read it again here. This was a book I very much wanted to read, and I’m sorry it took me far longer to get there than I’d intended – but I thought it was quite wonderful.
A secret held, a fear unspoken. Green gates and a flame tree – just as her mother described. The bolt screeches back …
It is 2011. Egypt is in the grip of the Arab Spring as journalist Maha Rhodes flies to Cairo.
Born in Egypt but raised in England, Maha no longer knows who she is. Finding out becomes important.
Events draw her into the political mayhem. She experiences the passion and violence of the revolution and is confronted by her own naivety.
How will her life be changed as a web of lies and deceit unfolds?
Too Loud A Silence will take you to Egypt. A beautiful, poignant and, at times, brutal story based on real events.
This book might be a work of fiction – using the Arab Spring and the assassination of Sadat as the background to its human stories – but the author has done a wonderful job of bringing Egypt and its political situation vividly to life. It was a time and relatively recent history – and, indeed, a country – that I knew lamentably little about, but by the end of this book I felt I’d been shown it in all its beauty, sadness and horror. The writing is just superb – descriptions that assault all the senses, images that sear themselves into your memory – and some of the scenes leave you with the feeling that you’ve been in the thick of the action without ever having left your comfortable chair.
The story’s construction works really well – after a vividly drawn prologue to set the background, Egyptian-born journalist Maha returns there to find out more about her history while reporting on the treatment of women, with her mother Pippa at home in Shropshire slowly revealing long-buried secrets through the writing of letters. This is a book about families – as well as the intricacies surrounding Maha and Pippa, taxi-driver Hosni’s family is an absolute joy – and very much about women, strong women, and the stark differences in the treatment and life they experience. There is a little love story that runs through the book too – although maybe not entirely convincing or needed.
I really enjoyed this book: an author sharing her obvious love for a country and her fears for its present and future, the most stunning descriptions, combined with a story I found simply fascinating right through to its unexpected – and heart-breaking – ending. A book I definitely won’t forget in a hurry.
In addition to Amazon, Too Loud a Silence is on sale in Shropshire independent bookshops and Waterstones, or can be purchased directly from the author’s website,
About the author
Jo Jackson was born in Birmingham. She was a nurse and midwife before qualifying and practising as a family psychotherapist. She lived in Cairo in the 1980’s with her husband and children. Jo began writing thirty years ago when she had several short stories published. Career and family interrupted the creative process and she returned to it only in retirement. Too Loud a Silence is her first novel. She now lives near Much Wenlock in Shropshire.