Too Loud a Silence
Journalist Maha leaves England for Cairo to report on the uprising. But it's not just professional interest that convinces her to go. Something deeper stirs, a compulsion to discover her roots in the country of her birth. But why does her adoptive English mother Pippa seem so opposed to the idea, so troubled about letting her go?
Back in England her mother Pippa has a journey of her own to make, back into her past, to her time in Egypt. Pippa's letters to her daughter should explain everything.
This is a beautifully crafted first novel which charts a young woman's journey to find her origins against the dangerous backdrop of the Egyptian uprising. She vividly evokes the Egyptian setting in a way which awakens all the senses. There is tragedy in these pages but also joy and ultimately this is an uplifting read. a fine novel which has much to commend it.
A joy to read - very moving story and unexpected ending. Couldn't put it down. Thoroughly recommend!
One of the best novels I've read in a long time. An informative description of the political situation in Cairo is interwoven into a moving story which is gripping to the end. Thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
I could not put this book down! It starts with a powerful prelude that draws you into this book. Jo Jackson uses beautiful descriptive language to depict vivid scenes of Egypt and this country as she keeps you in suspense as to how the story will develop. As a reader you are fully engaged with the characters in the story. A thoroughly good read, well written and I highly recommend 'Too Loud a Silence' to you.
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 February 2020
After reading Jo’s other book, Beyond The Margin I was so impressed with her writing style that I followed up with this, her first book. The characters bring you in from the first chapter and it was almost impossible to put down as the story unfolded. Set in Cairo;s Arab Spring in 2012 you could feel the danger and tension in the city that the main character encountered and as you grew to know more about the people she met it felt as though you were right there with them. Very emotional for so many different reasons, right up until the last page. I would highly recommend this author and will be keeping my eye out for further books.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 December 2017
This book might be a work of fiction – using the Arab Spring and the assassination of Sadat as the background to its human stories – but the author has done a wonderful job of bringing Egypt and its political situation vividly to life. It was a time and relatively recent history – and, indeed, a country – that I knew lamentably little about, but by the end of this book I felt I’d been shown it in all its beauty, sadness and horror. The writing is just superb – descriptions that assault all the senses, images that sear themselves into your memory – and some of the scenes leave you with the feeling that you’ve been in the thick of the action without ever having left your comfortable chair.
The story’s construction works really well – after a vividly drawn prologue to set the background, Egyptian-born journalist Maha returns there to find out more about her history while reporting on the treatment of women, with her mother Pippa at home in Shropshire slowly revealing long-buried secrets through the writing of letters. This is a book about families – as well as the intricacies surrounding Maha and Pippa, taxi-driver Hosni’s family is an absolute joy – and very much about women, strong women, and the stark differences in the treatment and life they experience. There is a little love story that runs through the book too – although maybe not entirely convincing or needed.
I really enjoyed this book: an author sharing her obvious love for a country and her fears for its present and future, the most stunning descriptions, combined with a story I found simply fascinating right through to its unexpected – and heart-breaking – ending. A book I definitely won’t forget in a hurry.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 July 2017
A great and thought provoking read. There are only a few books that I would consider to be 'mind blowing' - this is one of them. I knew little about Egypt and even less about what happened there during the Arab Spring. This book certainly increased my knowledge and awareness. Throughout the book I could almost feel the heat, the smell of the places visited, and the chaos and tension being experienced. Too Loud a Silence brings to life a situation most of us will be fortunate not to experience and there are unexpected twists and turns in the story. Jo write well.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Reviewed in the United States 22nd April 2017
Maha is a free-lance journalist, a young woman who lives life on her own terms. She is headstrong yet vulnerable in her youth and the ignorance that comes from a protected life. Still grieving for her recently deceased father, she leaves her mother to travel to Cairo where, thirty years earlier, her parents adopted her. Barely out of the airport, she is harshly welcomed into the place of her birth. She has not considered the dangers of the Arab Spring. But there are friends everywhere as well as enemies, and soon Maha begins the search for her own, personal beginnings with the help of these new friends.
This is a book that will stay with you. It is a rich, multi-layered work that leads you down the path toward Maha's infancy wherein lies a secret that her mother had hoped to keep hidden. It's the story of a young wife desperate for children she can't have. It's the story of an unsettled part of the world striving for dignity in the face of cruelty.
Simple cruelty has great power and that is a theme that runs deep in this moving novel of history in the making. Trust this author; she knows what she is doing. She'll bring you to Cairo, she'll introduce you to the people, and she will help you understand how the crisis of country affects us all.
This is a beautifully crafted story that weaves a young woman's personal search for her own identity into the political turmoil of Egypt's Arab Spring in 2011. I couldn't put this novel down. The characters are real and I was there with them - I laughed and I cried. The authors language is poetic and the descriptions evoke a country in chaos. This book deserves to be widely read. I loved it.
Fantastic book. I think this book will stay with me for a while. Couldn't put this book down. Heartbreaking twist at the end. Beautifully written in a world where political unrest is rife, this story shows the very human side of it all. Amazing first novel.
I loved everything about this book - great backdrop, great characters, unexpected ending - it was one of the few books I have had to stay awake to finish.
A wonderful story and beautifully written. Left wanting more.
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