Sunday, 13 December 2020

No Way Home

In her novel No Way Home author and teacher M S James brings us a remarkable insight on what life was like in the Saudi Arabia of the 1980s.

Kate Thomas leaves the UK with her two children to join her husband who is living and working as an architect in Saudi Arabia.

She finds a job as a teacher in a private school that is intended for expatriate Muslims. To describe the school as "organised" to any degree would have been somewhat unfair as the school was anything but organised.

She finds that her attempts at teaching are somewhat stymied by lunatic administrators and a shortage of lesson materials. As a result she finds it necessary, if she is to actually do any teaching, to use her own imagination to teach her pupils.

There are also other issues for her to contend with, such as quickly learning how to cope with living in Saudi Arabia which, for all its controls, a far more potentially dangerous place than one might suppose.

An invitation to a Saudi wedding takes her by surprise and gives Kate a new insight into the life of the real people of Saudi Arabia.

However, things go disastrously wrong when Kate and her family venture out into the desert and a vicious sandstorm suddenly strikes and whips her tiny daughter away.

A frantic search is instigated. Will they find her, or has she been taken away from her family, buried in the desert sands, or has an even worse fate befallen her? Would they find her? And if so, when and where?

It's a complex and very moving story and is based in part on the experiences of M S James when she lived in Saudi Arabia.

It's published by Matador and costs £9.99. It's going to be in many Christmas stockings this year, I think.

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