Today, in place of Five on Friday, I have Dianne Noble guest blogging about her book and her love of Egypt. Be sure and follow her on social media and check out her book, Oppression. And, always remember to leave a review for the books you read! They are soooooo important to authors!!
When she tries preventing the abduction and forced marriage of 16-year-old Layla, Beth defies her controlling husband, Duncan, and travels to Cairo where she finds the girl now living in the vast necropolis known as The City of the Dead. She’s hiding from her abusive husband and incites fellow Muslim women to rebel against the oppression under which they live. Beth identifies with this and begins helping her.
Cairo is in a state of political unrest, and Beth gets caught up in one of the many protests. She’s rescued by Harry, who splits his working life between Egypt and England, and they eventually fall in love. When Harry returns home and Layla vanishes, Beth is stalked and threatened with violence. And then Duncan turns up…
Can Beth ever find peace, or will her hopes of happiness remain shattered?
Will Layla’s ideals of freedom ever be fulfilled?
She woke in a fretful tangle of sheets, head thumping, hair plastered to her head, wet night shirt molded to her body. Where am I? Her gaze moved from the window to the puddle of discarded clothing and she remembered. Of course. Egypt. Leaning over the side of the bed to retrieve her slippers, she held them at arm’s length and shook them, then pulled them on and got out of bed.
Sitting on the toilet with her feet in the air, she kept a watchful eye on the floor tiles but there were no more insects to be seen.
The shower worked the first time. Maybe they turned the supply off at night because of water shortages. She let it run over her, washing away the stale perspiration and dirt, rubbed shampoo into her hair, rinsed it out and stood longer. How wonderful to be clean again. With a sigh of pleasure, she eventually turned off the water and looked around for the towels. There were none. She sighed. Looked like nothing was going to be simple. She dripped her way into the bedroom and dried herself on a couple of T-shirts.
By the time she’d dressed, sweat again bubbled out of every pore. Looked like she’d have to learn to live with the noisy A/C as well as permanent electric light. Her clothes smelt of mothballs after a night in the wardrobe. Pity they didn’t work for cockroaches. She looked in the small mirror over the basin and ran a comb through her hair. The lump on her temple had receded leaving a swirl of purple and yellow.
Right, almost ready for breakfast. Her stomach rumbled in agreement as she walked to the window. The shutters were stiff, the catch rusty, reluctant. Perhaps they weren’t meant to be opened but kept closed against the sun. With a small explosion of dust and rust flakes, she pushed them free and felt the heat on her face, smelt donkey dung as she looked down on the heads of a hundred people milling around, women in headscarves, men bareheaded, black hair gleaming in the sun.
She craned her neck to see small wooden shop fronts looking like cabinets with shelves. The noise was ferocious: people shouting, donkeys braying, a motorbike backfiring. Across the alley, on the roof of a narrow ochre-colored building, a woman pegged out washing, her small child playing perilously close to the unguarded edge. Beth’s arms prickled with heat as she watched until a triumphant bluebottle shot through a hole in the insect mesh and she quickly pulled the shutters closed, remembering just how many flies there were in Egypt. She’d have to buy a swat today.
I was born into a service family and brought up in Singapore in the 1950s before it gained its independence, then Cyprus when the Turkish Navy sailed to the island for the first time to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and we had to travel everywhere in a military convoy. I went on to marry a Civil Engineer and moved to the Arabian Gulf in the 1970s at the time of the construction boom. A hedonistic lifestyle with too much alcohol and partying which saw the demise of my, and many others’, marriages.
Since then, with sons grown and flown, I have continued to wander all over the world, keeping extensive journals of my experiences. Fifteen different schools and an employment history which included The British Embassy Bahrain, radio presenter, café proprietor on Penzance seafront, and a goods picker in an Argos warehouse (complete with steel toe-capped boots) have resulted in rich seams to mine for inspiration.
I’ve always written, from editing the school magazine to short stories and letters to magazines, but it was only on retirement that I had the time for a novel. My writing is atmospheric, steeped in the smells, sights, and sounds of exotic locations. I live – when not traveling – in a small, Leicestershire village. My favorite destinations – so far – have been India, Egypt, and Russia, with Guatemala a close third.
The first time I saw Egypt I was seven years old and sitting on the deck of the troopship Dunera with my head buried in Enid Blyton’s Ring-o-Bells Mystery. I looked up when we docked in Port Said to see the gully-gully man. He was an Egyptian magician who fascinated everyone, young and old alike, and accentuated the other world atmosphere of this exotic country. As we sailed down the Suez Canal – much narrower than expected – Lawrence of Arabia figures seated on camels appeared on the desert banks. I can truly say Egypt was the first place interesting enough to get my head out of a book.
Three years later, in December, the Canal had been closed and we flew back from Singapore in an RAF Hermes plane. The journey took almost three days, stopping in several countries to refuel and de-ice the wings. This time there were no hot and vibrant sights and I didn’t see Egypt again until I reached my early forties, when I traveled by train from Cairo to Aswan, glued to the windows as we passed by villages which looked like they’d come straight from the pages of the Bible. My lifelong love affair with Egypt had begun and I’ve been back many times.
Thank you, Dianne, for sharing your personal story and your book, Oppression. Beautiful cover by the way!