Book review: The Lost Girl

The Lost GirlThere is no shortage of books examining the Palestinian “situation”; I have my own collection amounting to several hundred volumes, accumulated over 30 or 40 years.

Some are lively and interesting, a few I have found dry and rather dull. However, every book in the collection has one thing in common – it assumes the reader already has an interest in the history and/or the on-going situation of the Palestinian people. They are, in short, preaching to the converted.

Readers of The Middle East magazine know only too well how the Palestinians have suffered under Israeli occupation for what is fast approaching 70 years.

We are aware of how successive Israeli governments and specific individuals have facilitated the demolition of Palestinian homes; the illegal acquisition of Palestinian lands; the murder of Palestinian children and how the list of abuses and indignities continues to grow.

However, the sad fact is that despite the passion many of us feel towards the utter wrongness of the situation we have – for the most part – failed to make their issue the international cause célèbre  it deserves to be.

And then, once in a blue moon, a film or a book comes along that shines a spotlight on exactly what is going on in Gaza and the West Bank, illuminating for a brief time the reality of lives lived under the brutality of the Israeli jackboot, behind high concrete walls and barbed wire, where the casual traveller cannot easily gain access.

Carol Drinkwater has produced such a gem with The Lost Girl and now, through the power of popular story telling,  thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, will be made aware of a political situation they had previously known little, or nothing, after  the reading  this novel.

The Lost Girl  tells a complex story of love and loss, of sadness and great joy. Taking the reader through London, Paris, the exquisitely beautiful perfume areas of Provence, the ritzy French Riviera and the grim Occupied Territories of the West Bank of Palestine.

The book deftly juxtaposes happenings in post -WW2 Europe with more recent historic events, among them the barbarous terrorist attacks that took place in the French capital on the night of 13th November 2015. Along the way, it also boldly tackles the realities for Palestinians living under the illegal Israeli occupation in a way few popular novelists have dared to do.

It is not a story about Palestinians but in a visit to the Occupied Territories, one of the books’ main protagonists, photographer Kurtis, witnesses first hand the brutality of the occupying army on a group of indigenous Arabs. The injustice – seen through her eyes – cannot fail to stir even the most casual reader.

Through a cast of intricate but immensely likeable characters, the author takes us on a journey – across five generations – that challenge a wide range of political, social and moral mores. Ultimately, The Lost Girl offers a message of hope and regeneration, in addition to the timely reminder that it is often darkest before the dawn.

 Author Carol Drinkwater talked to Pat Lancaster about The Lost Girl, which is published on 29th June 2017 by Penguin, see Featured Article

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