12 Mar 2018

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

REVIEW BY ROSAMUND FEENEY

Living overseas and the complicated ways we establish friendships are explored by Siobhan Fallon in her novel The Confusion of Languages.

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The story follows Cassie and Margaret who have accompanied their soldier husbands to the US embassy in Jordan. While Cassie has adapted to the new culture by learning the strict rules for women in Jordan and making sure to stay within the embassy, Margaret feels frustrated as she longs to explore Jordan and experience the culture. Despite these differences the women have formed a friendship and find themselves relying on one another as they deal with the isolating life of a military spouse. After Margaret goes missing one afternoon Cassie becomes fearful and begins to read her friend’s journal in a desperate attempt to find out where she may be. Through journal entries and flashbacks Cassie realises that her strict adherence to the rules has pushed Margaret into creating a secret life of her own in Jordan and may have led to her disappearance. The story looks at the complicated relationships between friends, spouses and different cultures. Fallon herself followed her husband to Jordan and throughout the text gives us an insight into the isolation and complicated feelings of a military spouse who has put their own lives on hold in order to help their husband/wife pursue their careers. Despite the differences between the characters I could understand how their friendship developed from necessity into something more genuine as they were bonded by the decision to follow their husbands. Fallon also does a wonderful job of describing Jordan through both Cassie and Margaret's eyes so I found myself feeling both apprehensive and awed by the country. This was a wonderful book that you could easily get lost in over the weekend.