Review by Anne Hamilton, Editor Lothian Life
Gabriel and Shylah are lifelong friends. As women, they could not be more different; Gabriel is tall and strong, startlingly intelligent and her high-powered career takes her all over the world. Single parent, Shylah, is gentle and practical, content to live with her son in a small Yorkshire town and run the deli’ she and Gabriel established after years of dreaming and planning.
When Gabriel’s work takes her to Saudi Arabia, she is challenged as never before. Discrimination, misogyny and a horrific miscarriage of justice bring her almost to breaking point, and eventually she flees home. With the support of their old convent school teacher, Sister Anthony, and her colleague, Michael, the man known as ‘Africa’s Prince of Light’, Gabriel and Shylah challenge religious extremism head on, and with almost unbelievable results.
Religion, politics and cultural ideology are themes central to the book but the author’s ability to wrap them up in a thrilling story, full of humour, imagination and sharp insights lies at the root of its success. The novel is not worthy but (thought) provoking; not heavy-going but infinitely readable. Gabriel is a heroine in a class of her own.