Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, a maker of maps, but when her husband's work takes her to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map the Kingdom's areas of internal darkness. The regime is corrupt and harsh, and the streets are not a woman's territory; so she becomes confined in her flat. As her days empty of certainty and purpose, her life becomes a blank – waiting to be filled by violence and disaster.
©1988 Hilary Mantel (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd
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Critic reviews

"Horrifyingly gripping. It urges the reader to suspend normal life entirely until the book is read." ( Sunday Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Maddy on 10-07-14


From the beginning of the book there is a sense of threat and oppression as the main character, a professional woman married to a man working in a Middle Eastern country, comes to grips with living in a misogynist, muslim, arab environment. As a woman she has no power, no status, no independence and no credibility in her own right. It is a very disturbing picture of life with the veil through the eyes of a western woman. Mantel maintains the tension to the end and this is a gripping novel, written as well as you would expect. Highly recommended.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Annie on 02-08-14

A Superb Book

I am ashamed to say this was my first experience of Hilary Mantel's writing and it was a revelation. I was so impressed by her skilful and witty creation of characters, ex-pats and locals and their interactions and relationships. The choking, claustrophobic atmosphere of Ghazzah Street and its environs was moving, exciting and tense. There was no let up. I loved every single minute of it. I have to mention Sandra Duncan, who did a great job on the narration too. I am familiar with her acting work, so it was no surprise. But Hilary Mantel was, and she has got herself another fan!

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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