This book was an interesting balance between the violent Baghdad of today and the genteel place of luxury gardens that it once was.
Current day Adnan struggles to run his bookshop amongst bombings, terror and intermittent electricity. His wife is desperate to leave the city, but Adnan is attached to the shop, which he inherited from his father. Although he has reluctantly agreed to leave, he is still nostalgically pottering around, when he comes across an old handwritten memoir hidden on shelves right at the back.
It immediately grabs his attention and he spends several nights ensconced in the shop, reading by candlelight.
The manuscript details the story of Ali, a young farmer who branches out into gardening and makes quite a name for himself in 50's Baghdad. Unfortunately he falls in love with a young lady whom he is prohibited from marrying. When the narrative of the sad love story comes to a sudden end, Adnan uses his contacts to try and find out what happened - and he takes us with him; we too are longing to know how the story ends.
This book has a beautiful cover, which appealed to me immediately. There is some fairly floral language, but this is not inappropriate when reading a book set in the Middle East. The story is told in an interesting way, using Adnan's bookshop and later his contacts. It is also well read in the audiobook version, by Randal Schaffer.
Ahmad Ardalan has other books set in Iraq and I am hoping that it won't be too long before these are also available as audiobooks.