Cover Image: When the Apricots Bloom

When the Apricots Bloom

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Member Reviews


When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson

“In a perfect world, we could wait until the apricots bloom. Alas, the world is not perfect”

TW// violence, gun violence 

We follow the lives of three women who are all facing impossible decisions at the turn of the millennium in Iraq under a deadly regimen. Huda is a secretary at the Australian Embassy in Baghdad, and because of her connection to influential politicians she lives in fear of the mukhabarat (the secret police). They have ordered her to befriend Ally who is the deputy ambassadors wife, and if she doesn’t provide enough information she knows her family are in danger. Rania grew up with a very privileged lifestyle but now her family wealth is gone she is doing anything possible to keep her family safe. 

When Rania and Huda cultivate a plan to keep their children safe, is it too late to escape the mukhabarat?

This is a heartbreaking story about trust and betrayal centred around three incredibly strong female characters. It explores the lengths people will go to, to keep their family safe. Throughout the novel the decisions these women make begin to intersect and have impact on the others. 

This book also gave a lot of food for thought when it comes to assessing your own privilege. It also prompted me to consider what I would do when the lives of my loved ones are at risk... 

Gina Wilkinson wrote this book based on her experience in Iraq under the regimen of Saddan Hussein. You can feel the emotion and heartbreak in every single line of this “fictional” story.  

I highly recommend this book! 

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This was a hard book to finish not because of plot or pacing, but simply because such horror is foreign to most Western experience. Based on the author's own time living in the region under Saddam Hussein she is able to describe such situations with the coldness in which they occur, which is chilling. On top of this is the constant heart in mouth feeling of who will be found out, killed or tortured by a brutal regime, again deftly penned by an author who keeps the reader guessing throughout. For me it was an anxiety that I had to take in stages before completion, but certainly in these times we need to be vigilant and understand what happens when people turn a blind eye and let tyranny run rampant.
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This pushes quite a few emotional buttons...
I dont know much about living under Hussain ,but this story had me open mouthed at the mistrust,and circumstances everyone was forced to live with.
Not knowing who you could trust,who might be listening,how your actions could be seen.
Stretching friendships and loyalties,the whole way through.
Fascinating,and more than a little tense.
I felt there was a ticking clock the whole way through,just waiting for something MORE awful to happen.
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“In a perfect world, we could wait until the apricots bloom. Alas, the world is not perfect.”

When The Apricots Bloom follows three different women, living in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. As their lives intersect with each other it becomes clear that all three women have their own secrets and fears. How far will they go to protect their family? And do they actually have another option than to lie and betray when the mukhabarat (intelligence service) are after them?

Beautifully written and suspenseful. It’s definitely a plus that the story is based on the true experience of the author.
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Unfortunately I found this to be a real struggle.  I ploughed through until the end but the story just wasn’t for me and I have to say I didn’t enjoy it very much. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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A quick and easy read that I found myself picking up after a long day to unwind. The characters are beautifully written and I came to love them within the first few pages and was rooting for them all the way to the end. At times I wanted to stop reading because I just wanted the experience to go on for longer. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A beautiful and insightful story depicting the story of a powerful female friendship in the face of political oppression. This was a truly moving read!
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