And even as I say the words aloud in the silent room and hear the whisper dying away in the shadows of the house, I realize that it's not true.
Because I don't, I can't remember.
I am old, and I am beginning to forget things."
Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas is a novel about memories - both creating them and recalling them. Iris is an 82 year old doctor living in Cairo with two aged servants, in poor health and realizing that she is losing important memories of her younger years. She is estranged from her daughter who lives in England with her family and has few friends. Then Ruby, her 19 year old grand-daughter shows up at her door to escape her family. Ruby is adrift in her life, unsure of which direction to go and decided that maybe she would find answers in Cairo. Ruby quickly understands that her grandmother is trying to recall her past memories and decides to help her by listening to stories from her past.
The novel moves seamlessly between present day Cairo and the Cairo of WWII when Iris first arrived. The author's descriptions of the city are fantastic - you can almost see the glittering parties and party dresses of the 40s along with the present day market place teaming with people and items for sale. Through Iris's stories of her past, it becomes apparent what formed her into the person she is in the present. There are romances - both in the 40s with Iris and in the present day with Ruby.
There is a lot of family drama between mother and daughter - Iris with her daughter Lesley and Ruby with her mother. Through it all, Iris and Ruby create a bond that transcends time.
This is a fantastic multi-generational novel and it takes place in an exciting part of the world. I loved this book and will remember these two characters long after the last page.
Buy Iris and Ruby at Amazon
available formats: ebook & print (432 pages)
published: April 2016 by The Overlook Press
genres: women's fiction, historical fiction, coming of age
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