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Russell's enjoyable latest historical is told in the exuberant, posthumous voice (yes, it's narrated from the afterlife) of Agnes Shanklin, a 38-year-old schoolteacher from Cedar Glen, a town near Cleveland, Ohio. After the influenza epidemic of 1919 strikes down Agnes's family, a childless and unmarried Agnes settles the family estate, acquires financial independence and adopts an affable dachshund named Rosie. Accompanied by Rosie, Agnes travels to Cairo during the Cairo Peace Conference, where she befriends Winston Churchill and Lawrence of Arabia among other historical heavy hitters. She also falls in love with the charismatic Karl Weilbacher, a German spy whose interest in Agnes may have less to do with romance than Agnes will allow herself to believe. Agnes's travelogues, while marvelously detailed, distract from the increasingly tense romantic play between Agnes and Karl. When a more worldly-wise Agnes returns home, her life—first as an investor wrecked by the Depression and then a librarian until her death in 1957—remains low-keyed. Though the bizarre, whimsical ending doesn't quite gel, Russell (The Sparrow; A Thread of Grace) has created an instantly likable heroine whose unlikely adventures will keep readers hooked to the end. (Mar.)
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On the heels of a family tragedy precipitated by the influenza epidemic of 1919, middle-aged spinster schoolteacher Agnes Shanklin inherits enough money to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Traveling to Egypt, she settles in at the Semiramis Hotel, where she meets and becomes involved with a number of members of the Cairo Peace Conference, including T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Winston Churchill, and Lady Gertrude Bell. As these luminaries begin to carve up the Middle East, the unassuming Agnes wins the confidence of the conference attendees and attracts the attention of a dashing German spy. Narrated by Agnes from beyond the grave—a twist that is not revealed until the end of the book—this atmospheric entrée into a bygone time and place provides a first-person peek into the international political machinations that forged the contemporary Arab world. A natural for book-club discussions. --Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
wonderful story great historical setting clever use of second and third personPublished 8 days ago by Carol Scott-Dye
Russell's book The Sparrow is. an all-time favorite of mine and I wanted to read more. This book is a very different subject and treatment but does explore the similar themes of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
The history of the Middle East from the time of WWI until recently is a subject I know little about. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Marilyn
Fascinating to review history of Arab nations which have led to current political climate in the Middle East while enjoying the personal narrative of protagonistPublished 2 months ago by linda hallock
an everyday book for everyday people... with a glimpse of people of greatness. very well written and engaging, you almost forget you're learning history! loved every bit of it.Published 2 months ago by Tracy T.
An utterly fascinating bit of history through captivating narrative, story.Published 3 months ago by Harriette Howitt
Interesting presentation of the facts surrounding the Cairo Peace Conference. ...what a complicated mess. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Susanne