Life in this beautiful old city offered everything. Mediterranean sun just two hours away from mountain snow. Exciting new friends – a madcap American journalist and his exotic Palestinian girlfriend. For newcomers to Beirut Richard and Claire Devine, there was no telling where the world ended and heaven began. Until fighting broke out in the suburbs – but surely that was somebody else’s war…
I don’t usually read contemporary fiction unless it has some sort of supernatural twist to it, but from the first few pages I found that I wanted to read more. It was an unexpected pleasure!
The writing was definitely my favourite part of the Lebanese Troubles. It was a visual experience; I felt like I was actually there, in Lebanon, facing all the dangers of civil war along with the characters. One thing I will note is that the dialogue does not use quotation marks, but dashes, which I believe is more of a French thing. There were no he saids or she saids–which you think could get confusing, but it doesn’t. The dialogue was so good that you could tell who was speaking by the way they were talking.
I was much more impressed by the first half of the book than the second half. There was lots of tension, not only with the war, but sexual tension between the characters in the first half. In the second half, this tension seemed to subside and be replaced with a “man-discovering-who-he-is” story, which was still well written, but I didn’t find as interesting.
Like I said before, the characters were well-developed and distinct. My favourite was Monique, the mysterious cock-tease who was the source of most of the sexual tension. I won’t give anything away, but I was unhappy with what happens to her. The protagonist, Richard, annoyed me at times, especially for the second half of the book. Perhaps this was intentional, as he does go through a rough time.
Definitely worth a read, especially if you like fiction set in the Middle East. The characters are great, and the dialogue is refreshing. The author is also a prolific blogger, and I’m going to feature him on the Woulds & Shoulds Self-Publishing Success Interview Series.
The Lebanese Troubles is available on Smashwords, in multiple formats.