Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Last War by Ana Menendez

They had the perfect marriage.  Brando was a journalist, Flash was a photographer.  Together they roamed the world, documenting wars for audiences safely at home.  Now Brando is in Iraq in the early days of the war, embedded with the troops, while Flash waits in Istanbul for her visa.  At first, she misses him immensely, but as the days pass, she wonders if she wants to follow him one more time, if this war will be any different from all the others.

Then the letter comes.  A sly, smug letter, informing her that Brando is living with another woman.  She doesn't recognize the name of the letter writer, although the author writes as if she knows the couple well.  Flash is torn.  Fiercely rejecting the news one minute, down in the depths of depression and validating it the next, she doesn't know what to believe.  Days go by.  Brando continues to call most days but she doesn't mention the letter to him.  She wants to see his face when she asks.

As she wanders Istanbul, she keeps seeing a mysterious woman in Muslim garb, who seems to be following her.  After several encounters, she confronts the woman and discovers that it is a former acquaintance, Alexandra.  Alexandra is a writer, fixer, mover, who floats from culture to culture, always in demand but never that close to anyone.  Flash and Brando met her and her young Arab lover years before in a convoy in Afghanistan, and have run into her over the years since.

In the next weeks, Alexandra seems to take Flash on as a project.  She forces her to get out and about, telling her there is no truth to the letter.  Kind and sympathetic one day, she is cruel and dismissive the next.   This leaves Flash in more disarray than ever, never knowing from one moment what is true and what is false, who can be believed and who will betray her.

I. Loved. This. Book.  It engages the reader on the first page and never lets go.  Everyone has had the experience of loving someone, and reading about the agony of wondering if that love has been betrayed struck to the heart.  As the author reveals layer upon layer of the characters, showing past events that have led to the current stages and hinting at causes, the reader is entranced.  The mood is languorous with an undertone of menace.  As the best books do, it makes the reader question what they know about life and love.  This book is recommended for all readers.


Heather J. @ TLC Books said...

Ooh I'm so glad you loved this one - the story sounds so simple yet so complex! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

trish said...

Wow! Your enthusiasm is contagious! I want to go out and buy the book right now. :) So glad you loved this book!