I love this book; this is my third reading.It tells the story of a young american woman investigating the life of her great grandmother who travelled to Egypt at the turn of the twentieth century after losing her husband, only to be kidnapped by nationalists and subsequently fall in love with an Egyptian man. Against all the social and cultural norms of the time and place they marry. The book charts their relationship while juxtaposing it with the political goings on in Egypt at the time. The Ottoman Empire was on its way out, the British were in Egypt and things were ripe for change.
It also deals with the present day relationship between the young American Isabel, and the man she has fallen in love with, who by chance is also related to the family her grandmother had married into. As the modern section of the book is set in 1997 it was particularly interesting to re read this in the light of the current events in Egypt..