Blog tour: A Stranger in Baghdad

Welcome to the blog tour for A Stranger in Baghdad by Elizabeth Louden!

More about the book…

One night in 2003, Anglo-Iraqi psychiatrist Mona Haddad has a surprise visitor to her London office, an old acquaintance, Duncan Claybourne. But why has he come? Will his confession finally lay bare what happened to her family before they escaped Iraq?

Their stories begin in 1937, when Mona’s mother Diane, a lively Englishwoman newly married to Ibrahim, an ambitious Iraqi doctor, meets Duncan by chance. Diane is working as a nanny for the Iraqi royal family. Duncan is a young British Embassy officer in Baghdad. When the king dies in a mysterious accident, Ibrahim and his family suspect Diane of colluding with Duncan and the British.

Summoning up the vanished world of mid-twentieth-century Baghdad, Elizabeth Loudon’s richly evocative story of one family calls into question British attitudes and policies in Iraq and offers up a penetrating reflection on cross-cultural marriage and the lives of women caught between different worlds.

More about the author…

Elizabeth Loudon is a former college lecturer and charity development consultant.

She has an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MA in English from Cambridge University, and has taught at Smith, Amherst, and Williams Colleges.

She's published fiction and memoir in the Denver Quarterly, INTRO, North American Review, and Gettysburg Review, among others, and received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship.

She drew on her experiences travelling in Iraq and Lebanon in the 1970s when writing A Stranger in Baghdad, her first novel.

It was longlisted for the Bridport Novel Award and won the Stroud Book Festival Fiction Competition.

She lives in London.

My impressions…

Described by the publisher as an ‘intergenerational drama set against a background of political tension and intrigue’, this is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The writing is elegant and gives a true sense of time and place. I could feel the heat of an Iraqi summer on my skin, and the fluttering insecurities of living within a culture that is not your own. The occasional Arabic words gave the setting more authenticity, and Baghdad did emerge as a fully formed character. Perhaps even as the main character.

I do love a book that lets my mind travel to places I haven’t been, and this was quite a journey. I also learnt a lot about the history of the country as fiction and non-fiction are beautifully entwined throughout the pages. In terms of historical fiction, this novel gets top marks from me!

Three words to describe it. Evocative. Interesting. International.

Do I like the cover? I fell in love with the cover as soon as I saw it!

Have I read any other books by the same author? No, this is her first novel.

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