Delighted to host today's stop on this Blog Tour
29 March 2021
My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour
‘Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.’
Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her. Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years. Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.
Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s The Girls from Alexandria is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.
📖 My Thoughts..
Seventy year old Nadia is an inpatient in a British hospital and whilst the, rather uncaring, medical people around her struggle to find out what is causing her health problems, Nadia is more concerned with trying to find her older sister, Simone, who she hasn’t seen for fifty years.
The story splits between two time frames, so that we get to spend time, in the present, with the elderly Nadia in hospital, and then, as she reminisces, we go back to the 1950 and 60s, and back to a time when Nadia and Simone were growing up in Alexandria. Using her own experiences of growing up in this part of the world the author describes Nadia’s life really well, painting a a colourful picture of growing up in a complicated family with a motley collection of aunts, uncles and family friends. We also get a real sense what was happening politically, and culturally, in Egypt during this time.
The story is particularly poignant in the present, especially as Nadia seems unable to understand just what it is that the doctors are asking of her and this general uncertainty is reflected in the way Nadia’s meandering thought patterns take her back time after time to her younger days in Alexandria. I especially loved how Nadia embraced the idea of social media and got to grips with a borrowed Ipad in quick time.
Whilst this is a thought provoking and beautifully maintained coming-of-age story, it’s also about the frailty aspect of increasing age, and how easy it is for older people to become thought of as merely shadows of themselves and then are seemingly disregarded. The Girls from Alexandria is a quietly introspective story written by an author who understands how to hold the reader's attention with a beautifully written story about love, loss, family and cultural identity.
About the Author
Carol Cooper is a doctor, journalist, and author. Born in London, she was only a few months old when her cosmopolitan family took her to live in Egypt. She returned to the UK at eighteen and went to Cambridge University where she studied medicine and her fellow students. On her path to a career in general practice, she worked at supermarket checkouts, typed manuscripts in Russian, and spent years as a hospital doctor. Following a string of popular health books as well as an award-winning medical textbook, Carol turned to writing fiction. Her first two novels were contemporary tales set in London. Ever a believer in writing what you know, she mined the rich material of her childhood for The Girls from Alexandria. Carol lives with her husband in Cambridge and Hampstead. She has three grownup sons and three stepchildren.
Twitter @DrCarolCooper #GirlsfromAlex