The Ambassador's Wife

Jennifer Steil. Doubleday, $26.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-385-53902-9
Steil, (The Woman Who Fell From the Sky) worked as a journalist in Yemen, and that experience clearly paved the way for her excellent debut novel. Miranda, an American artist, has recently married Finn, the British ambassador to Mazrooq, an impoverished, desert Arab nation (and fictional stand-in for Yemen) on the Arabian peninsula. Miranda is adjusting to her pampered and protected life as an ambassador's wife, complete with servants, bodyguards, visiting dignitaries, and diplomatic social events, in a violent country beset by poverty, illiteracy, civil strife, and terrorist attacks. She clandestinely teaches oil painting to Muslim women, a taboo act in Mazrooq. Finn also has a guilty secret, related to a disastrous event during a previous posting in Afghanistan. Miranda is kidnapped by terrorists while on a hike, beginning a horrifying ordeal of captivity; Finn is replaced as ambassador, but he refuses to leave without his wife, frantic with worry and despair. Miranda is only kept alive to breastfeed a tiny, malnourished baby girl, not knowing the significance of the child. Months pass without any word—no ransom demands, no claims. The story becomes increasingly high-stakes, culminating with betrayal and violence. This is a well-crafted, fast-paced novel, packed with ample suspense to keep the pages turning. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/2015
Release date: 07/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-8041-7146-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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