Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson

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Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson

Buy Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Susmita Chatto
Reviewed by Susmita Chatto
Summary: Singer Saba and fighter pilot Dom battle with their attraction to each other as their involvement with World War Two affects them more deeply than they could have imagined.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: January 2013
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1409103042

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The temptingly titled Jasmine Nights starts promisingly. Saba, a talented singer whose gift to the war is entertaining the troops, comes from an unhappy family background, and one that has little patience for the opportunities for women brought about by war. Dom, a fighter pilot who has sustained injuries, is feeling displaced - the war has changed his world forever.

The early part of the book draws both characters extremely well; with Dom, we see the cosy life he had before the war, and the attempts his family make to march defiantly on in spite of it all. Through Saba, we see all the excitement of a life goal of professional singing getting closer. The two are attracted to each other, but when Saba is sent to entertain the troops in Egypt, a less than perfect situation is hampered further by a range of complications.

Gregson has an enormous talent for description; her sense of place centres us immediately. No matter whether in either a middle class drawing room or a theatre dressing room, Gregson injects life and colour with sophisticated ease. This gives her great scope for introducing new characters quickly; they are real to the reader immediately. This is a necessary skill when juggling as many characters as we have in this novel. Dom and Saba's different backgrounds are both beautifully illustrated and the story takes unexpected turns quite early on.

However, there is too much detailed description sometimes and although the descriptions are always enjoyable, they occasionally cloud the scene. This comes to the fore the most in the scene around the early misunderstanding between Dom and Saba, and erodes the drama somewhat. There are other scenes, relating to the complexities of war secrets, where I felt I had to read sections twice in order to extract some detail.

But the book is well structured overall and shows the reader scenes from wartime life that are perhaps less commonly covered in fiction. It was fascinating to read about the life of those responsible for entertaining the troops and touching to read about the responses from soldiers who had so little to comfort them. It was a treat to watch Saba investigate a history that had fascinated her since she was a child; and the juxtaposition of those adventures alongside experiences made inevitable by war made the story all the more touching.

Saba is a little naïve however; although she does come from a small town, I did feel that she would be a little more careful about trusting people, especially as it is 1942 and I would have thought certain ways of thinking would be entrenched after three years war. Dom is more of a realistic character, but both he and Saba are likeable characters you can root for – and believe in. Overall, a good read for anyone who enjoys a romance and the complexity of war time tales.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman or The May Queen by Helen Irene Young.

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Buy Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson at Amazon.com.

Booklists.jpg Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson is in the Richard and Judy Book Club Spring 2013.


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