The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages

Siobhan Fallon

Written with stunning prose and powerful emotional insight, The Confusion of Languages is a story of two unforgettable women and the choices each will make in friendship, in marriage, and in love.

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A searing debut novel from the award-winning author of You Know When the Men are Gone, about jealousy, the unpredictable path of friendship, and the secrets kept in marriage, all set within the U.S. expat community of the Middle East during the rise of the Arab Spring.

“A gripping, cleverly plotted novel with surprising bite.”—Phil Klay


“Mesmerizing and devastating...two military wives must explore a modern-day, cultural labyrinth in this insatiable read.”—Sarah McCoy

Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.
 
With achingly honest prose and riveting characters, The Confusion of Languages plunges readers into a shattering collision between two women and two worlds, affirming Siobhan Fallon as a powerful voice in American fiction and a storyteller not to be missed.


Advance Galley Reviews

I think my biggest challenge with this book was just something that is a personal preference. I don't like too many flash backs, and that was one of the techniques used to tell this story. The characters were vivid, the writing great. But I kept wanting to read about the present rather than past; I simply lacked a sense of urgency to finish. 3/5 *'s.

While I don’t quite remember what it was about the description of Siobhan Fallon’s upcoming The Confusion of Languages that caught my attention, I do know that my initial impressions while reading it were that this wasn’t the story I’d been expecting. In the case of The Confusion of Languages, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all (especially since I can’t remember what it was I was expecting). On the contrary, I found the novel to be a fascinating character study of two American women living abroad and the unusual nature of their friendship. Cassie is an experienced embassy wife. She and her husband, Dan, have been living in Jordan, the site of his latest posting, for a while and decide it’s about time they sponsor a few newcomers to the extended embassy family. Margaret and Cassie’s friendship appears to be on solid ground when a small fender-bender requires Margaret go to the police station to deal with the authorities. Cassie is left to babysit Margaret’s toddler son, Mather but as the day wears on, Cassie can’t get in touch with Margaret and the recent cracks in their friendship begin to come to light as Cassie passes the time reading Margaret’s diary and recalling her own impression of those early days. While it was pretty straightforward in its approach and execution, I found the way Fallon played with time and perspective in the novel thoroughly engaging. Of course, I have an established fondness for novels that play with time in exactly this way and for such examinations of character and perspective as well. Though I’m not partial to first person narrations, the exception I make is when characters’ voices are well defined and distinctive and Cassie and Margaret’s voices are precisely that. Even without the headers to each chapter to indicate whose perspective it’s in, the pattern of speaking, of thought, of personality is enough to quickly make it clear for the reader. As far as the way time is presented in the novel, Cassie’s sections time-stamped to show how long has passed since Margaret left to go to the police station include Cassie’s commentary on Margaret’s brutally honest diary as well as occasional glimpses of her own perspective on the same events. With each woman’s thoughts about the other laid bare, the complex web of friendship becomes an even more remarkable thing to examine. Everyone has judgmental thoughts about their friends and all relationships include betrayals though many are miniscule in comparison to some of the ones happening between Cassie and Margaret. But the admiration and affection shine through too. It’s unclear whether these women would be friends anywhere else in the world but the circumstances of their lives as foreigners in a country with a culture so incredibly different from the one they know adds another layer to their friendship and another theme for exploration to the narrative as a whole. Margaret is excited to see Jordan, its people, and its history first-hand. Cassie adheres much more closely to the recommendations of the embassy, constantly scolding Margaret in her disregard for Jordanian customs and the line between the Jordanian citizenry and their place as not just Americans abroad but Americans related to the embassy and its officials. In all cases the novel seems to prefer wading through the gray, letting it ripple out from the issues and lap at the readers’ feet leaving it for them to decide who is right and who is wrong in each situation. The Confusion of Languages will be available in stores on June, 27, 2017.

The premise of the book was a good one. Cassie and Margaret are 2 women who would not have been friends except for their husbands working together. The story needed more of the interaction between Margaret and Crick and Cassie and Dan to fill out why they each reacted to each other and the situations in which they found themselves. I really did not like either character and the end was extremely predictable. This book was an ok read, but I will probably not read the next book by this author.

Cassie and Margaret are living in Jordan with their soldier husbands during the Arab Spring. The two women become friends, but are very different-Cassie follows all the rules and is very cautious, even fearful of her surroundings, while Margaret cannot seem to get all the rules down and wants more adventure. After getting into a minor car accident, Margaret goes to the police station to take care of things while Cassie babysits Margaret's son. As day turns to night and there is no sign of Margaret, Cassie becomes worried and starts wondering-what happened to Margaret? This was a thought-provoking book. It is told from Cassie's point of view and Margaret's journal entries. The descriptions of Jordanian life and culture were interesting. The differences between the two women and how they handle the culture shock begs the question, who is really the fish out of water-Cassie or Margaret? Cassie is not the most likable character, and at times things start to seem like Single White Female, but it never goes that far. Margaret is a more sympathetic character, and she is really the one who drives the story. The only thing I did not like was the ending because it seemed like an easy out. Other than that, The Confusion of Languages was well written and interesting.

The story line is a clever concept that I can appreciate, however I had a hard tone following along with the choppy time line. Character development was slow and it took me too long to get into it. Due to this I was unable to finish it.

I couldn't get into this book. Slow starting and I kept waiting for it to grab and hold my attention.

I am sorry to say that this book was difficult to read and held no value to me (the reader). The theme, the "riveting'" characters,(where were they) were all very disappointing to the point where I stopped reading about three thirds of the way in. There are too many great novels out there I would rather spend my time reading. .

I could not get into this book. I struggled and struggled. Tried to keep reading but just ended up giving up. Not my style. Didn't catch me from the first few chapters.

A beautifully written novel about the lies that we keep from ourselves and others. About how adapting to a different culture will help you learn about the people who live there. About how sometimes kindness isn't perceived as it but can be construed differently.

This book sounds like an interesting read. Unfortunately it just didnt capture my attention. I think that given the right mood it certainly would have though! I appreciate the opportunity to read this one. Thank you.

The range of adjectives that describe this book is vast. Tense, tender, haunting, frightening, frustrating, mysterious, beautiful... No matter the combination of descriptors, they all result in an extraordinary tale that kept me glued to the pages!

Cassie is living with her husband, Dan, in Amman while he works. She has been looking forward to adding to her family with Dan but the couple have failed to conceive, thus far. When Margaret and her husband move to the embassy, Cassie and Dan are asked to be their sponsors, showing them around and helping them adjust to life in a foreign country. When Margaret gets into a fender-bender and must go to the police station to fill out paperwork, Cassie agrees to watch Margaret's baby, Mather. After Margaret does not show up for hours, Cassie becomes worried and begins to read Margaret's journal to gain insight into the mind of her new friend. Margaret is more of a mystery to Cassie than she realized. Cassie is a bit annoying. She is so cautious that she comes off as culturally insensitive. She assumes that all of the men in Jordan wish her harm and all of the women are judging her for not being conservative enough. Margaret is more open-minded and caring about others, regardless of their nationality. Margaret may be a little too trusting but she does so with the aim of being kind to other people. This book was really interesting and unique but could be slow, at times. Rarely have a I read a book about living in an embassy in another country from the perspective of the wives, though. I really appreciated that angle and the story kept me moving along. The writing was interesting but the constant references to the origin and definition of words quickly turned from interesting to annoying. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is a great work of Women's Fiction with a bit of multiculturalism thrown in and any reader who enjoys books like that will enjoy this book.

Writing style and story line grabbed my attention right away and I couldn't put the book down. Thought provoking and honest. I will definitely follow Siobhan Fallon's from now on.

The Confusion of Languages sucked me in almost immediately. I found myself needing to uncover what happened between the two main characters and how, ultimately it would affect their friendship. This story is an interesting look at two very different women navigating life in a foreign country at an unsure time. I think it can help to remind us that what you see on the surface is only a fraction of a person and there is always more to the story.

The book was interesting and I could relate to the characters having lived in an Arab country for a little over a year. The book will never be one of my favorites but the author did develop the characters well and the story line kept me reading but didn't grab me. One needs to look at dates on chapter to keep the story line straight. The book was about two woman who approach living in a foreign country differently and their developing friendship.

I loved this book! I liked the author’s style of writing. Cassie and Margaret are the wives of military men stationed overseas in Jordan. Cassie and her husband Dan are sponsors for Margaret and her husband Crick and their young son Mather. Cassie and Margaret begin to spend a lot of time together and develop a friendship. The story explores their lives in Jordan, as they must understand and follow the proper behavior required in a foreign country. Margaret is the more outgoing one out of Cassie and Margaret. Margaret is determined to live her life and be outgoing to everyone. There are delightful glimpses of life with a young child throughout the book. The story also explores the intracacies of Cassie and Dan’s marriage and Margaret and Crick’s marriage. Both couples are involved in their own intimate struggles. The story is told from Cassie’s first point of view and Margaret’s first point of view from her journal. I highly recommend this book for you to read. This story will stay with you long after you finish reading it!

This book details the relationships between two women, living in Jordan with their husbands who work in the military. Cassie and Margaret are very different, but became friends, largely because there are so few options for companions. The friendship that follows is complex and often antagonistic. These women don't understand each other and, perhaps, don't want to. The Confusion of Language documents the events that occur before and after one makes a fatal mistake that hurts the other. I found this book to be very well written and the character development intriguing. This book enthralled me and I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. I liked this book a lot, which is why I was disappointed by the abrupt ending. I felt like the ending was rushed and there wasn't much explanation or reflection about the events that occurred. I would say that was the biggest downfall of the book, although I enjoyed it overall.

This was a beautiful, lyrical read. While slow or start, it did pick up and I truly enjoyed it.

This book is beautifully written, very lyrical. The author is excellent at capturing emotion. It sort of dragged in the middle for me, and I was almost going to give up, but then I did get back into it and was very glad I finished. I would be interested in reading more from this author.

VIEW I would like to thank First to Read and G..P Putnam's Sons for the ARC of "The Confusion of Languages" by Siobhan Fallon for my honest review. The genre of this story is Adult Fiction. There is also some historical reference. I appreciate the author's description of the location in Jordan, and the various people affiliated with the American Embassy and those that live there. The characters are described as complicated and complex. The story-line is about two women, Cassie and Margaret who are accompanying their soldier husbands to the United States Embassy in Jordan. The two women are opposite in their personalities and characteristics. Cassie is familiar with the Jordan culture, and rigidly follows the rules. Margaret, who has a baby, wants to experience Jordan, and disregards many of the rules. Margaret is extremely friendly and flirtatious at times, and is nervous in crowds at others. She feels that it is important to be kind, not understanding the culture. Both women have issues with their marriages. Often Margaret forgets the time, and will leave Cassie watching her baby. Margaret writes many of her feelings and experiences in a journal. The author writes about family, friendship, jealousy, betrayal, honest and hope. I would recommend this intriguing story of cultural differences and friendship!

Story seemed to start slow. It was an okay book but not one that I would read again.

This book was an interesting read. I'm not quite sure what it was, but I found it hard to relate to the characters. It was written well, but I just had a disconnect.

The Confusion of Languages is an interesting story of two women with very little in common other than the fact that they're American wives of career military men and living in a foreign country. One woman is perhaps a little naive and explores the world around her while the other is almost crippled by her strict adherence to rules. Sadly, neither woman ever really gets to know or understand the other. This was well written and I loved the way we saw both women's perspectives. This was a compelling read.

I was pulled into the story of Cassie and Margaret from the first few pages and maintained my interest until the end. It's clear that something awful is going to happen to these two unhappy women, but I certainly did not predict the ending. The device of alternating between Cassie and Margaret for the narration was very effective and served to let the reader know that not everything in their lives was at it appeared on the surface. The story also provided a lot of insight into the lives of families of military and diplomatic personnel living abroad. Thank you to the Penguin First to Read program for providing an advanced reading copy of this book.

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon was overall a terrific book. I wasn't that excited to start reading it. This genre is not my usual. But i quickly got sucked into the storyline and felt myself wanting to keep reading. This was a great read about military wives whose lives become interwoven. When one of them goes missing, it is up to the other to find out what happened and face her role in the disappearance. Thank you to Penguin Random House for giving me an ARC of the book in exchange for a review.

I absolutely loved this book. This book, which focuses on the wives of American diplomats in Jordan, really gave me a window into a world in which i had no experience. The story is set in a way that is relatable for many people, especially women and/or military spouses, but was overall a human interest story. I really, really loved this book and was sad when it ended!

Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to read this book. I'll be honest at first it was very hard for me to get into the book and love the characters. What kept me going was wondering what was going to happen. I appreciated the fact that the author did supply a bit of suspense to know this story was not going to end well. I would have preferred a different ending however for the characters, I think the author did a good job at ending it the way most wouldn't expect. I don't think I'd read another book by this author unless I see very good reviews.

I was so glad to have the opportunity to read this book! I found the story of two military wives adjusting to life in Amman, Jordan incredibly compelling. As an army brat myself (though only in the US), I could really identify with many of the characters in the story. The book switches between the perspectives of the two women: rule-following Cass & more free-spirited Margaret. I thought that worked very well, allowing us to get the whole story while also getting each woman's emotional reaction. On a larger level, there are also lessons here about cultural norms & sensitivity, which feel so important right now.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Confusion of Languages. I found this book to be enjoyable and hard to put down. It is a story about two military families, Cassie/Dan, and Margaret/Crick/Mather who are American citizens living overseas in Jordan. The story was interesting to me because it gave me an idea of what it is like for those who are willing to serve our country and what their family experiences when they are there as well. Cassie and Margaret each have a different view on life. Cassie having been in Jordan for two years takes Margaret under her wings and helps her to adjust to the new culture. Seeing how things end up in this book I came to realize that not all cultures and places have the same ideals as we do, but no matter where you are you need to take into consideration their culture and respect it.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That's the tag line that best fits this particular narrative. Cassie Hugo is as structured as could be, a control freak whose military husband is deployed to Jordan. So aware of the dangers of radical Islam, she sees a Bin Laden in every Arabic face and threats around every corner. She's annoying and unlikeable and if author Siobhan Fallon says it once she says it more than enough times. Cassie, being infertile, has an attitude about babies. I got it early on. No need to repeat. Due to circumstances where you can't pick your friends because there's but a small pool of American embassy workers on hand, she tries to cozy up to Margaret Hugo. Margaret is a stereotypical California girl, head full of clouds. You can get away with using stereotypes when you've won a few writing awards. But all those awards don't make for a likeable character either. Cassie keeps her distance while Margaret rushes head-long into making nice with the natives. Being empty-headed, she's blissfully unaware of cultural differences and acts the role of ugly American, doing things her way in the assumption that she can bring people together through kindness. Kindness American style, which does not translate into Jordanian life. Hence, the confusion of languages. The novel is told in first person by both Cassie and Margaret, so be on your toes as you read. Margaret's side of the story is revealed through her secret diary that Cassie discovers after Margaret goes missing, leaving her toddler in Cassie's care. Oddly enough, Margaret's journal is written just like a novel, with dialogue and everything. As for Cassie, her narrative covers the time period from when Margaret dumps said toddler and she finds out what happened to Margaret, the chapters moving slowly through time as backstory is revealed and Cassie discovers some insight into herself. To use the military term, Margaret's good intentions result in a massive clusterfuck of trouble that descends on those she tried to help. The actions she takes drive the narrative and work to build the tension, so that you can almost forget how much you dislike all the characters and read on to see how the dust settles. The story builds to a strong finish, with plenty of strong emotional elements. Some will love THE CONFUSION OF LANGUAGES and some will not get far once Cassie starts whinging about sloppy babies. Self-edit, skim, and get yourself to the meat of the story.

This is a very interesting and moving book. The story is about two military families living in Amman, Jordan during the Arab Spring. This is a unique topic and the book delves into the different approaches to living in an Arab society. Cassie is one of the military wives and she learns the rules for living in a Moslem, Arab country. She does not speak to the men, does not try to create friendships with the citizens; rather she goes about her business as a foreigner and does not try to understand this society. Cassie, newly married and with a baby, sees living in Jordan as a chance to explore - the people, the culture and the land. She disregards the embassy rules, doesn't keep her cell phone charged, and goes off on her own. She befriends one of the embassy guards, then goes off to Petra alone and becomes embroiled in turmoil as the embassy guard s fired. After a minor car accident, Cassie goes off, supposedly to the police station, but rather to the home of the embassy guard. He shuns her and on her way back, she has an accident and dies. The book really captures the "ugly American" and the naive American. Both approaches to the Arab world have serious flaws and it really made me wonder how I would be in that situation. The two women never understand each other's views and Cassie's secrets haunt Margaret. Could she have intervened earlier and prevented the tragedy? Should she have been more involved with Cassie? This novel was well written and easy to read. The theme was very thought provoking and I am still puzzling over it. Highly recommend. It would be a great book club selection.

Two lonely women attempt to fix themselves in any way they can. One, through inserting herself and trying to be needed, the other- through kindness, new experiences, and becoming comfortable in her own skin. Things never work as planned, though, and it's an important lesson.

Thanks to First to Read for the ARC of this book. It was an intriguing premise and I thought the author did a good job of making the reader interested in two rather flawed characters. As a military spouse, I thought she did a decent job depicting relationships that sometimes form when you are living on foreign soil with people you might not otherwise be involved with. The "journal entries" were not very believable as journal entries and I there were no great twists. The journey of the story mostly makes up for a somewhat underwhelming ending. I would give it 3/5 stars. It's a solid read, but not something I felt compelled to read until I was finished.

I can get why many people would not like this book much, but I definitely found it profound and engaging. One of my favorite reads this year.

Strange to say, but none of the characters were particularly endearing to me, yet I found this to be a very enjoyable read. The setting felt fresh to me, and there was a compelling story that I found myself looking forward to returning.

This was a sad, beautiful story that completely gut punched me at the end with emotions I haven't felt in a long time reading a book. The author does an amazing job at pulling you through the story by dropping small tidbits of doubt or confusion. Just enough to make you think hard about what you are reading but not enough to leave you lost or wondering what is going on. My thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

I could not get into this book. I don't like snarky characters. Others seem to enjoy it. I did not.

This book quickly sucked me in & held there. A story of jealousies, misunderstandings, and the fragility of language is told through the fragile friendship of two mismatched soldier's wives. We see how easy it is to say one thing and have another thing heard, to think you know something then to have that rug of understanding ripped away, and to realize the pain of coming to grips with your own role in a tragedy even when you thought you were trying to help. I definitely recommend it.

This book was not one I would typically pick up and read, but I'm glad I went out of my comfort zone for this one. It's read that quickly sucks you in and makes you keep reading until you reach the end. Cassie is a character that many readers can either identify with or know someone like her. While she can be selfish, it comes from a deep-seated insecurity and longing for human contact that one can sympathize with. Margaret is the type of woman who sacrifices herself until she is yearning for some time for herself, which many can sympathize and agree with. The writing is very good and the ending is surprising in a tragic way. The only thing I found a little irksome was that the journal entries where Margaret's voice is heard begin like journal entries, but slowly turn into entries written like a narrative. It's a little hard to believe that she can remember so much detail for a mere journal entry, so framing it as a journal entry was a poor choice. Other than that, it's a really good book and I enjoyed reading it.

Very well-written book. The more the story developed, the further I got sucked into it. The ending felt like a gut punch though.

Thanks Firsttoread.com for an ARC of "The confusion of languages". I was looking forward to read this book for many reasons. Being an Indian, having a sizeable Muslim population, having heard of the arabic culture, customs and folklore, and being the daughter of a Colonel in the army, I could feel for both the leading characters who are military wives. Needless to say, the book resonated with me. I have myself been the jealous friend, and had a jealous friend on occasion. This, couple with the proximity laden on the ladies as a result of overseas deployment, has its ripples in their personal lives. I can understand how Cassie meaning to do the right thing, ended up being on the wrong foot. Who has not done that? I especially felt how lonely, insecure she was and that made her mistakes human. Margaret was on the other hand, to me, more unreal in the sense that she was bit too good for a human. And she flouted rules of living abroad like a frivolous young thing she was, and yet got away with it, for the majority of the book. But it all came back to bite her at the end. This, and the supposed diary entry that reads like a novel, were my disliked portions of the book. But Cassie and the over all book hooked me to read in one big reading session. You will like this one if you dont need a big plot and twists. This book is more about the journey than the destination. overall 3.5 stars from me.

I thought the author did a fine job showing what it is like for a military spouse living in a foreign country. And how sometimes friendships are formed between people who ordinarily wouldn't be drawn toward one another if the situation was different. I've lived overseas while my husband was deployed and could relate with some of the feelings of Cassie and Margaret. The mystery of what happened to Margaret kept me interested but the ending left me feeling slightly underwhelmed. Overall though I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to my military friends.

Thank you for the opportunity to read this galley. I found the book challenging to keep track of who was speaking, what the timing was. First the baby was talking at 18 months, and later at 6 months eating a bag of dorittos. I didn't find anything likeable about any of the characters, I particularly dislike when characters are having a conversation, and one goes through a bunch of dialogue in their head before verbally answering or continuing a conversation. Some of the book was smoother to read, but I kept having to go back and checking dates, and in the beginning even the time. The characters never reached any kind of depth or understanding for me. Just a couple of typos noticed and one missing word.

Cassie and Margaret, two flawed women, drew me into this good story. Neither of them are likable but some how the story works. Their opposing personalities make an interesting contrast. Putting them in Jordan with cultural differences makes for a good read. No spoiler, but the ending made me sad. The writing worked for me and I would have been happy if I had paid for this book

I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. It's interesting, because I found the two main characters, Cassie and Margaret, pretty unlikable, but I still really enjoyed the book as a whole. I think it says a lot about the author's writing skill that I mildly disliked the characters and found their actions sometimes highly annoying, but something still kept me reading this book late into the night to find out what would happen. This is an entertaining mystery tale that has a surprisingly important underlying message, and I would definitely recommend it.

Review: not for publication This book is not for me, I could not engage in the story or endear myself to the writer's style. Also the font used in my digital copy of the arc was very distracting and difficult to read: tops of letters d, o, a, e missing. My apologies and thank you for the opportunity.

I found such a deep attachment to both Margaret and Cassie's characters throughout the novel. Both women are uprooted to join their husband in their military deployment. Margaret has learned all the societal norms and knows to have her guard up when interacting with others to maintain safety. Cassie struggles with dealing with the Jordans while representing lax parenting principles. The novel goes back and forth between both women and shows the disintegration of a friendship and the loss of Cassie. I really loved the heart that this novel showed and how miscommunication causes so many issues.

This book is well written and drew me in as I discovered more and more about each character. Cassie is judgmental and almost hyper-reactive to situations regarding the local Jordanians; Margaret is defiantly naive to local cultural behaviors and always feels like she's tolerating her son. Fallon was able to keep me interested in characters that I didn't personally like, which may be why I felt so let down by the ending. After all of the build up and discovery about Cassie and Margaret and the development of their relationship, it just seemed like such a quick way to wrap things up. Then again, the lack of closure is probably a more realistic way to end things. Fallon writes a realistic female relationship with all of the like you/ don't like you that we all have in our friendships and even gets the tensions between military couples. All said, I did really enjoy this novel and plan on reading her earlier books.

 


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