In a House in Yemen by Brenda Cheers – 4 stars
In one day, Australian publishing icon Annie Delaney loses both her daughter and husband in separate incidents in Sana’a, Yemen.
The local police captain is proving unhelpful, so with failing health and nowhere to turn, she allows herself to come under the protection of Rían, a local businessman who she suspects is more than he seems.
Annie becomes a pawn in a confusing game of international politics. With the help of her daughter’s boyfriend, Nicholas, she learns the truth and then has to draw on badly depleted reserves of energy to fight for the ones she loves. Then she proves she is a force to be reckoned with.
Set in Sydney and Yemen, this is a fast-paced and absorbing story that will keep you engrossed from the first page to the last.
This book is about a woman having issues with work-life balance. She’s tossed into a crisis and through dealing with it, achieves a kind of equilibrium. Although the story is about a kidnapping (mostly), it’s not an action tale – it’s a cerebral exploration of character. I enjoyed this book, it kept my attention and interested me in the characters. The plot and pace are well done except for two points.
One, Annie gets a letter from Steve in the later parts of the book. The revelations in it are not precisely major, in the sense that none of it comes as a surprise. They are still important. However, Annie’s reactions to it are largely blank. I felt she got the information, then tossed it aside without reflection. By then, she’s forged a new path, and has no second thoughts about it. Although she’s a firm, take-charge kind of person, it felt off. I would have liked to see her work through the tangled emotional landscape of her life more.
The second point is the ending. I found it unsatisfying and even a little weird. Some time gets skipped for the conclusion without any sort of explanation for the way things actually worked out. Of the three main secondary characters, it’s completely unclear why they were resolved the way they were (or weren’t, as the case may be). It’s fine, it just didn’t cap the story right for me.
Despite its minor flaws, I did enjoy reading this book, and recommend it for anyone who likes literary fiction from a woman’s perspective.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.