Book: Ishmael’s Oranges
Author: Claire Hajal
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Available: Out now in hardback
If you enjoy this book you might like: O Jerusalem – Larry Collins & Dominique LaPierre
Summary: One minute seven-year-old Salim is dreaming of taking his first harvest from his family’s orange tree, the next he is swept away into a life of exile and rage. Seeking a new beginning in 1960s’ London, Salim find unexpected love with Jude , a troubled Jewish girl with her own devastating family history. But before long, childhood conflicts and prejudices reawaken to infringe upon their life together.
Apologies for the long break from posts – I was lucky enough to escape to the South of France for a week or so, and while I got a lot of reading done, I wasn’t able to post.
This week, I’ve been reading Claire Hajal’s beautiful novel Ishmael’s Oranges. It gives you a deep insight into the conflicts in the Middle East, contrasting a really sweet love story between Salim and Jude, who come from different sides of an ongoing battle.
It’s a story about identity, family and trying to let go of a deep bitterness in order to move on. There are some truly heartwrenching passages, especially at the beginning when we see Salim’s childhood drastically change when his family suddenly lose everything, having been betrayed by their friends.
The love story between Salim and Jude is wonderfully written. It’s not at all like Romeo and Juliet – Salim and Jude’s families object but don’t stop them from being together. I love that their relationship isn’t kicked off with in a dramatic way – they simply meet, fall in love, and they decide to try and make it work despite the powerful barriers they face.
Salim at times I found to be a bit selfish, but Claire writes in a way that you understand his motivations, so I never found myself disliking him. Jude was a brilliant character – I found her really interesting because she hasn’t got a defining character trait, for example she’s not overly shy or much too confident. I think that was one of my favourite things about this novel – there’s no exaggeration, it’s all very matter-of-fact, so you really feel for all of the characters.
Definitely a great read if you want to learn a bit more about this conflict without having to hit the non-fiction books.
What have you all been reading this week?