Tag Archives: siobhan fallon

THE CONFUSION OF LANGUAGES by Siobhan Fallon

I became a big fan of Siobhan Fallon after reading her 2011 collection of stories, You Know When The Men Are Gone, which is about military families living on army bases in the U.S. Her first novel, The Confusion of Languages, came out this summer and I was eager to get my hands on it. It did not disappoint.

Cassie and Margaret are two American women living in Jordan while their husbands are stationed there. Cassie has lived in Jordan for a few years and knows the rules and expectations for expat wives. But she’s lonely in her marriage, frustrated by her inability to get pregnant and to connect with the other wives. When Margaret arrives, Cassie is happy to take her under her wing, spending time with her and her young son and teaching her how to comport herself in a Muslim country during the Arab spring.

Margaret is dealing with insecurities of her own, and living in Jordan is the first time she has ever been away from her claustrophobic home in Northern California, where she lived with her chronically ill mother. She wants to explore Jordan and make friends with the guards and the building superintendent, even though it is inappropriate for her to have contact with them. She is open and friendly and flirtatious, in stark contrast to Cassie’s tightly wound primness. Yet these two women become good friends and Margaret comes to depend on Cassie a lot.

But how well does Cassie really know Margaret? They get into a minor car accident one afternoon, and when Margaret has to drive to the police station to sort it out, she asks Cassie to stay with her son. The hours pass, and Margaret doesn’t return. Cassie, restless in the apartment waiting for Margaret to come back, discovers Margaret’s journal and discovers that there is a lot she didn’t know about her friend. The book teases out what’s really been going on in Margaret’s marriage, the tensions that have been growing between the two women, and the relationships that Margaret has been cultivating on the side.

I didn’t love The Confusion Of Languages as much as Fallon’s earlier book, but I liked it a lot. She is a great storyteller, maintaining tension throughout the book and building suspense. She’s also incisive and observant, just what you want in a novelist. I didn’t love the ending, but I enjoyed the ride quite a bit.  Give this one a try if you’re fascinated by military marriages (like I am) and want to be transported to a very foreign place.

YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE by Siobhan Fallon

Here's a collection I am really excited to read: You Know When The Men Are Gone, by Siobhan Fallon. I read about it in Entertainment Weekly and have decided that I must read it.

From Amazon:

Fallon The crucial role of military wives becomes clear in Fallon's powerful, resonant debut collection, where the women are linked by absence and a pervading fear that they'll become war widows. In the title story, a war bride from Serbia finds she can't cope with the loneliness and her outsider status, and chooses her own way out. The wife in "Inside the Break" realizes that she can't confront her husband's probable infidelity with a female soldier in Iraq; as in other stories, there's a gap between what she can imagine and what she can bear to know. In "Remission," a cancer patient waiting on the results of a crucial test is devastated by the behavior of her teenage daughter, and while the trials of adolescence are universal, this story is particularized by the unique tensions between military parents and children. One of the strongest stories, "You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming," attests to the chasm separating men who can't speak about the atrocities they've experienced and their wives, who've lived with their own terrible burdens. Fallon writes with both grit and grace: her depiction of military life is enlivened by telling details, from the early morning sound of boots stomping down the stairs to the large sign that tallies automobile fatalities of troops returned from Iraq. Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent.

This collection comes from Amy Einhorn books, which is a popular imprint among a lot of book bloggers that I follow. Would love to hear from anyone who has already read it (it comes out tomorrow).