Privileged rich boy meets beautiful girl from the other side of the tracks and falls in love. There is a suspicion that she might have an ulterior motive, especially as she insists on keeping their relationship secret. The boy’s father is furious when he finds out and bans his son from contacting her again. Sounds like a familiar story, but it takes on a new dimension in this powerful novel, which sets the personal against the political and confronts the competing demands of love and loyalty.
The boy, Eamonn, is the mixed-race son of Karamat Lone, a Muslim politician newly promoted to Home Secretary. The girl, Aneeka, is the twin sister of Parvaiz, who has been radicalised to join Isis in Syria. Parvaiz quickly becomes disillusioned and his sister will do anything she can to help bring him back home. But Karamat, who believes that people like Parvaiz should automatically forfeit their British citizenship, will do anything to prevent his return. The story – engrossing, tense, tragic – provides a thought-provoking perspective on the fragile world we live in. ‘Over the next few days he discovered her version of secrecy meant he didn’t have her phone number, couldn’t contact her online, wasn’t permitted to know when she was planning to come and go. She’d simply turn up at some point in the day, sometimes staying for so short a time they never even got completely undressed, other times remaining with him overnight. “Secrecy” was an aphrodisiac that gained potency the longer it continued, every moment filled with the possibility that she might appear…’ Kamila Shamsie is the author of seven novels, including Burnt Shadows, a previous YOU Reading Group choice, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction. She was born and raised in Pakistan, but has lived in London for the past decade. The first book she remembers reading is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Kamila reveals more about the background to Home Fire at mailonsunday.co.uk/you, where you will also find suggested topics for your own book club discussion.