Elizabeth Webster is a cantankerous spinster pushing 70. Forced out of her old school teaching job, she unleashes her sharp tongue and dogmatic opinions on everyone in the English village of Little Blessington. Then one cold spring night, sitting on the sofa alone, she grinds to a dead halt. To recover from this mysterious, near-fatal illness her doctor sends her on a journey to a North African country where she ventures into the desert and has a brush with terrorism. But Miss Webster no longer cares about anything, least of all Islamic politics and suicide bombers. Three weeks after her return there is a ring on her doorbell. Standing there in the gusty darkness is a young Arab man of astonishing beauty. Worryingly, he is carrying a large suitcase. But who is Chérif? Why is he there and what does he want? Entertaining, intelligent, provocative, Patricia Duncker's new novel is a comedy of errors set in the aftermath of 9/11, in a darkening world moving towards war. This engaging tale about friendship, trust and liberation is full of reversals and surprises, tenderness and humour.
First published in hardback by Bloomsbury, May 2006
Published in paperback by Bloomsbury May 2007
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2007
All Rights Reserved. Patricia Duncker 2020