Following the 2007 release of Cairo Stories, a collection of short stories on Egypt, author Anne-Marie Drosso presents her first novel In Their Father’s Country, which dives deep into its characters’ emotions as well as the country’s complex history.

The story begins in Cairo in 1924 with Claire and Gabrielle Sahli, teenage sisters from mixed Egyptian and European ethnicity. They are coming to terms with their father’s recent death, and though their personalities can’t be more different, they have one thing in common: their deep love for Egypt.

The novel focuses on Claire’s character: the reader follows her disappointments and triumphs throughout her ninety-six years. Her personal ups and downs follow a pattern that is somehow related to Egypt’s political developments during one of its most complicated times.  

Most of the events in Claire’s life– or at least the ones that are so elaborately depicted– are unbelievably sad;, from the very first page till the last. Death is the main focus of almost all of the novel’s characters. Yet, the very profound and emotional descriptions of the death scenes do not dispel the questions that the reader may have about characters that weren’t developed enough and elaborated on before their deaths.

The fact that the author has lived in Egypt comes across through the graphic descriptions and accurate grasp of the complexities of Egyptian society; in fact, Drosso lived in Egypt for the first twenty-two years of her life. Although the author writes in English, she lists the dialogues in the precise way that Egyptians converse in, and she describes places with a clear familiarity. She truly and exceptionally manages to capture the Egyptian soul in her writing, which makes In Their Father’s Country an interesting read for someone familiar with or intrigued by the uniquely Egyptian atmosphere.

In Their Father’s Country is both complicated and simple: there are no major events that change the pace and sequence of the story, and there aren’t really any surprising twists either; yet the author maintains a firm grip on the reader’s attention. Every word in this page-turner seems to evoke an emotion in the reader.  

In Their Father’s Country is an insightful portrayal of human emotions, and it takes us back on a nostalgic journey to the golden ages of Egypt. As the story is written from the perspective of the main characters, readers can easily relate to them as real people who have really experienced everything described in In Their Father’s Country.