Blue Desert by Celia Jeffries (2021, Rootstock Publishing)
Sixty years after Alice George lived in the Sahara desert with the nomadic Tuarig tribe, she received a telegram telling her that Abu was dead. "Who is Abu?" her husband asks. "My lover," she replies. This is the set up for Blue Desert, the new novel by Celia Jeffries. The story braids the two narratives of Alice's time spent in the Sahara during the years of World War I and 1970s London, during the week she tells her secrets to her husband for the first time.
The story of Alice’s time spent with the Taurig people is particularly fascinating. The Sahara is land mass larger than the continental United States and is seemingly hostile to human life. But this tribe found a way to live in harmony with that environment. Add to that, women were valued and held power within their society in a way that contrasted markedly with the British society Alice had left behind in the early 1900s.
One of the main themes in Blue Desert is how survival and love can be entwined and take many forms. What helped Alice survive in the desert was acceptance—of her situation and of the people she found herself among. What helped Martin survive the WWI was acceptance of the altered state of the world. Finally, what made their marriage work was total acceptance of each other as they were.
If you like historical fiction with a feminist bent, Blue Desert is the book for you.NOTES
Read my author interview of Celia Jeffries, here.
Learn more about the book Blue Desert and author Celia Jeffries on her website, here.Watch the YouTube video of the Cambridge Common Writers launch of Blue Desert, here, where you can listen to Celia read from her novel and answer questions about the story and her writing process.