Sunday, April 15, 2012

'Jasmine Nights'

When I finished reading Julia Gregson's novel, 'East of the Sun', I was stunned, to say the least.  It was so intriguing, so well-written.  The damn story flowed so well that I couldn't put it down.  I became so involved, and grew to love every character, good and bad.  I told my Borders customers about it and they, in turn, recommended it during their book club meetings.  

And now, to my delight, I was gifted with her third novel, 'Jasmine Nights'.  It sat on top of the stack of books I received, like a Christmas present chanting, "Open me!  Open me!"  There I sat, her novel in my hand, and it was everything I could do not to flop down on the couch and devote my entire evening to Ms. Gregson's  fine story.

'Jasmine Nights' is the story of Saba Tarcan, a young singer living in Wales, who is hired to perform for the ENSA, the British version of the USO, during World War 2.  But as her contribution to the war effort grows more intense, she is soon recruited by the British Secret Service to help rescue a spy being held under house arrest in Turkey.  To complicate her life even more, she falls in love with Dom, a British pilot.

This isn't just a 'girl-meets-boy' story.  And it isn't just a 'girl-loses-boy' story.  It is that, and more.  And it doesn't contain a cut-and-dried ending, either.  Ms. Gregson's research is impeccable; it's very obvious that she knows of what she writes; her inspiration for Dom, the pilot, is based on her father, who was also a pilot during the war.  And, like Dom, he was shot down and badly burned, but aided by the skills of a top-notch surgeon, he recovered his good looks.

The characters in this deeply-felt novel are beautifully drawn; from Arleta, a fellow performer who becomes Saba's closest friend, to Ozan, the entrepreneur who knows more than he is telling.  There are some horrific, almost terrifying events, and the intricate twists-and-turns kept me reading late at night.  As each chapter takes its turn in telling the adventures of Saba and Dom, all you want is for them to meet once again...and, perhaps, finally stay together.

But it is a story that is not just driven by their romance.  It shows us the horror of war; how it humbles us, and how people found joy and gratitude in the simplest gestures.

This reader is very happy that Ms. Gregson has graced us with another fine story.  But now, I'm hungry for more.  

She has spoiled me.

1 comment:

Brie said...

This sounds amazing and is going right on to my "must buy" list. Just finished reading Room by Emma Donoghue. It was amazing, one of those rare books thats heartbreaking, uplifting, depressing yet makes you smile inspiring books that just changes how you look at the world (for a little while awe always wears off)