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Publisher Description

A searing debut novel from the award-winning author of You Know When the Men are Gone, about jealousy, the unpredictable path of friendship, and the secrets kept in marriage, all set within the U.S. expat community of the Middle East during the rise of the Arab Spring.

Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.
With achingly honest prose and riveting characters, The Confusion of Languages plunges readers into a shattering collision between two women and two worlds, affirming Siobhan Fallon as a powerful voice in American fiction and a storyteller not to be missed.

“A gripping, cleverly plotted novel with surprising bite.”—Phil Klay

“Mesmerizing and devastating....Two military wives must explore a modern-day, cultural labyrinth in this insatiable read.”—Sarah McCoy

Fiction & Literature
June 27
Penguin Publishing Group

Customer Reviews

Granny Loves to Read ,

Intriguing Read

Really found this book captivating and intriguing. Two different women in similar situations but totally different takes on how to be. Use of the journal was an excellent source of what made Margaret tick and how she perceived her life and what happened to her. Great writing and fascinating characters. Interesting glimpse how military has to live on foreign soil and what is expected of them. Mystery, intrigue, and entertaining. Would recommend this book.

Kris Anderson, The Avid Reader ,

Debut novel by Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages is a debut novel by Siobhan Fallon. Cassie Hugo’s husband, Dan is a soldier assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Jordan. Dan signed them up to sponsor the Brickshaw family (Crick, Margaret and their son, Mather) without consulting her. Cassie is hoping that Margaret will be a friend, but she has reservations because of their son, Mather. Dan and Cassie have been trying to get pregnant for nine years without success and it has strained their marriage. Cassie explains the rules for women to Margaret (how to act, dress, etc.), but Margaret seems to pay little attention. She is more interested in exploring the city and immersing herself into the culture (breaking many rules along the way). One afternoon Margaret and Cassie are out driving when they are in an auto accident. Margaret needs to go to the police department to pay a fee, but first she returns home. She asks Cassie to watch Mather for her while she is gone. As the hours pass, Cassie gets bored. She finds Margaret’s journal and starts reading it. What Cassie reads makes her concerned for Margaret and guilty. Margaret has not answered her phone, and she never arrived at the police department. Where is Margaret? To discover what led to Margaret’s disappearance, pick up The Confusion of Languages.

The Confusion of Languages was a dissatisfying novel (for me). The story starts in the present and then goes back to when the Brickshaw’s arrived in Jordan. It then keeps going back and forth in time (as Cassie reads Margaret’s journal). I found it disconcerting. The book is written in the first person which did not help (Margaret and Cassie’s perspectives). The book started out good, but then the pace slowed down considerably when Cassie started reading Margaret’s journal entries. The story does get more interesting toward the end after Cassie has finished reading the journal (if you make it that far). The Confusion of Languages has two women who are very different (of course). Margaret wanted to be friendly with the locals (a rule breaker) and Cassie was suspicious of them (a rigid rule follower). The author shows readers what women are thinking and feeling as well as exploring female relationships (which always seem to be explosive). The story seemed to be building up to some big revelation, but it was a huge disappointment. The ending was unoriginal and expected. I found the characters (Cassie, Margaret, Crick, Mather, Saleh) to be unpleasant. I really disliked the scenes with Mather (he cried and screamed all the time as well as running rampant making messes and destroying things while leaving disorder in his wake). I was surprised the embassy had not shipped the husbands back to the states based on their wives’ behavior. I give The Confusion of Languages 1 out of 5 stars. We can see how an individual’s make judgements about people that can cloud a situation or relationship. You do not know what goes on in someone else’s life. They suffer from insecurities and doubts too. The book does contain an extreme amount foul language. The Confusion of Languages shows the importance of behaving or following the rules when we are in other countries (especially in the Middle East). We may not like or understand the laws or regulations, but not following them can harm innocent people. The Confusion of Languages was not a pleasant book to read (at least for me).

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