READ­ING GROUP

The Mail on Sunday - You - - Editor’s Letter -

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.

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