Literature has always benefitted from the idea that we live in a global village. The pursuit to discover other cultures and exotic habits is always fascinating especially when set to the backdrop of an interesting story and complex characters. In her new book The Meeting Point, Lucy Caldwell delves into a culture that has been rarely unearthed in Western fiction works; the Gulf.

Set in Bahrain, Caldwell tells a story that includes only a few characters, but contradicting ones nonetheless. As the Iraqi war starts, the story follows two main characters - Ruth, an Irish woman who moves to Bahrain with her husband and baby to do Christian missionary work, and Noor, a British-Bahraini teenager who has moved from London to live with her father after her parents’ divorce.

As the two characters meet and form a friendly bond, they both discover weaknesses and strengths inside themselves which are tested by a swaying turn of events that changes the course of their relationships with others. Noor struggles with feelings of self-loathing, while Ruth begins to question her faith and marriage as she meets Noor’s cousin, Farid.

Ruth’s character might shock the readers with behavioural ups-and-downs that might come off as a little unbelievable. Yet the style of writing, and maybe the presence of other unstable characters, makes the reader fall back on psychological explanations to her transformation from a rural Christian girl to a woman who has an affair with a nineteen year-old boy and starts to suddenly doubt her faith.

Most of the characters of The Meeting Point are afforded with detailed accounts of their emotions and thoughts. However, the progress of the story could have been more appealing to the readers. For one thing, it moves slowly and only scrapes over the surface of the events. The description of the setting, the dusty winds and heat of Bahrain gave certain credibility to the events, but it comes across as a novelty rather than being significant to the plot.

Strong, unspoken relationships and paradoxes are what The Meeting Point is about. It builds on slowly rising resentment and desire, for attention as well as understanding. The Meeting Point is one of those novels that will linger and resonate in your mind long after you flick over the last page.