My first novel is Too Loud a Silence. Described as a contemporary literary novel, it was published in November 2016. Available directly from the author, on Amazon or from Shropshire independent bookshops and Waterstones.

 

It is 2011, Egypt is in the grip of the Arab Spring and there is no room for outsiders.

Born in Egypt but raised by her adoptive parents in England journalist Maha Rhodes recognises her growing need to touch her roots. Despite her mother's unexpected resistance finding out who she really is becomes important.

The turbulent political events in Cairo are a catalyst but when she travels to her birthplace she is completely unprepared for the devastating secret she will uncover. 

Events draw her into the political mayhem. She experiences the abuse and violence of the revolution and is moved by Egypt's cause and the passion of the demonstrators. She meets people who fight for change. She faces up to her own naivety.

Confronted with her past Maha is overwhelmed by what she discovers. She finally understands what it means to belong.

Too Loud a Silence will take you to Egypt. It is a beautiful, poignant, sometimes brutal story of cross-cultural identity; of a mother's love and guilt. 

Inspiration

I lived in Cairo in the early eighties. Poverty was rife and the instance of children, particularly girls, being abandoned was not uncommon. For almost two years I was a regular visitor to an orphanage taking children out for the day. Abruptly and without explanation the orphanage was closed to foreigners. I was never to know the fate of children I had grown fond of. This is a novel I wanted to write for them. 

Reviews

This is a truly wonderful story, a multi-layered novel handled with insight and sensitivity. The cultural and political complexity adds a whole new dimension with some genuine twists and surprises along the way.  Sarah Vincent

Jo is not afraid to deal with the challenges in Egypt during this difficult time, and poignantly interweaves these issues within a beautifully written personal story.  Kathy Watson

Very powerful. Beautiful descriptive language. Poetic. Challenges all your senses throughout. Margaret Cannon

Using language as an artist does, with deft brush strokes, Jo creates a richly textured, elegant prose.  Lorna Taylor