Cover Image: The Girls from Alexandria

The Girls from Alexandria

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The Girls from Alexandria follows Nadia who is currently stuck in a hospital bed in London, desperately trying to find her sister who was last seen 50 years ago in Egypt. I was in two minds about how to review this book - I loved the chapters that focused on the sisters early life in Egypt. However, I found the present day extracts where Nadia is within the hospital detached and repetitive. I feel like this could of been done purposefully, to try and highlight how lost and alone she is feeling but it did get repetitive after a while!

Although the timeline jumped all over the place, I still found the story easy to follow and enjoyed the break up of present day as I find this part of the story quite slow. I feel like this would be a perfect read for someone who enjoys historical fiction as there was a lot of in-depth knowledge about both Alexandria and Egypt!

There are elements of the book which were very moving and heartfelt. This gave the story a lot of depth and I enjoyed reading about Nadia recollecting her memories and making sense of them - I did quite like Nadia’s character so it was nice to see that there was truth within her jumbled up thoughts. I wasn’t convinced of her sisters existence at first but as the book unfolded, it was great to see Nadia prove the doctors and people who were meant to be caring for her wrong.

Thank you to Netgalley and Agora books for the chance to read this for an honest review! I really enjoyed the historical nature of the book and the book kept me intrigued as I was interested in how the story was going to go - for that reason, I give this book 4 out of five stars.
Was this review helpful?
Nadia, 70 years old, is in an skilled nursing facility after a seizure.  As the medical staff try to figure out what is wrong with her, Nadia’s confused brain returns to two pole stars.  She wants to find the sister she hasn’t seen in fifty years, and she reminisces about her childhood in Alexandria.

The descriptions and stories of Egypt in the years between 1953 and the present are brilliant.  Carol Cooper spent her childhood in Alexandria, and her memories have illuminated Nadia’s.  

The present day story is equally finely detailed.  I’ve spent significant time in an SNF with a parent, and the description of the staff, the procedures, and the other patients are spot-on.  (While Nadia’s doctors are not paragons of medical care, they are realistic overworked clinicians!) 

I was engrossed in this novel from start to finish, and was sorry to emerge, although happy with the way that the loose ends of Nadia’s life were tied up.
Was this review helpful?
This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and action with wonderful world building.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I read a complimentary advance copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Firstly Thanks NetGalley, secondly can we talk about how beautiful this cover is, one of the reason why I requested this book.

The story goes about Nadia an elderly woman who lives in London who doesn't trust her mind, she wants to find her sister but everyone around her tries to dismiss her and tell her that she is being delusional but she starts to gets postal and those reignite some memories... and then the drama starts

Is a so damn good read.  I was hooked from the beginning to the end.  So recommended the characters, the story... THE END...

Was this review helpful?
A beautiful book. I definitely went into this book seeing the mindblowing cover. Its indeed a pleasure to read such new fiction from time to time. Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for this book.
Was this review helpful?
In contemporary London, Nadia is hospitalized and confused. Facing the prospect of a long-term care facility she must find her sister Simone who has been missing for 50 years to avoid the fate she is facing. Confused about the past and not sure how to begin her search, Nadia plunges in and begins to find out some truths about her past as well as the present.

Alternating between the present and the past of 20th Century Alexandria, this beautifully written novel, is an unusual coming of age story. Set against the sights, sounds and smells of Alexandria, Nadia’s story unfolds revealing long lost secrets and the difficulties of growing up amidst a culture that does not always value females.
A fascinating look into life in Alexandria and a different culture, written with beautiful prose. Cooper handles difficult subjects with care and sensitivity. This is a wonderful read for fans of historical fiction as well as women’s fiction.
Was this review helpful?
EXCERPT: Most of Simone's warm clothes still appeared untouched. Funny. I'd have thought she'd have needed them in Europe. There at the back was a well-loved teddy bear. So much for her claim of having got rid of all soft toys by the age of ten. The yellow ribbed cardigan next to it was actually mine. A cigarette burn went through the right elbow. Well, that would explain why she had never returned it. I sniffed the cardigan and picked up a faint scent of Femme de Rochas which, in Mother's opinion, reeked of sharmouta. I returned the cardigan to the drawer alongside a stack of monogrammed handkerchiefs and Mother's ubiquitous cotton bags for socks and tights.

Inside the white painted bedside table, I found various nail varnishes, a Mary Quant lipstick, and a lipstick brush. In the drawer lay a few 45 rpm records. Bobby Azzam's big hit would never be the same again now that Simone had gone. I sang 'Ya Mustafa' softly to myself, willing the tune to work its magic and bring her back.

ABOUT 'THE GIRLS FROM ALEXANDRIA': Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

MY THOUGHTS: Other than odd passages, such as the one above, The Girls From Alexandria is strangely detached. I expected a little, no, to be truthful, A LOT more emotion.

Although I found the history of Egypt, and particularly Alexandria, interesting, I sometimes wondered if the author were more interested in imparting that, than solving the mystery of where Simone had disappeared to. It ought to have been an interesting backdrop to the main story, but at times overwhelmed it. Although I have to admit that at times, as I was reading, I would exclaim, 'I remember that happening!'

I also found the constant shifts in the timeline from the past (1950s onwards) to more recent times a little hard to follow as they jumped all over the place, but I guess that this was forgivable as we were remembering through Nadia's muddled mind.

I liked the character of Nadia, but never connected with her, or really got to know her. I did, however, develop an interest in Alexandria and Googled it to find out more. If I ever get to travel to Egypt, I will certainly head there. The author's knowledge of and love for Alexandria shone through her writing, as did her medical knowledge.

Reading through my review, it sounds as though I really didn't like this book at all. But I did. A little. I would love to have liked it a whole lot more.


#TheGirlsFromAlexandria #NetGalley

I: @drcarolcooper @agorabooksldn

T: @DrCarolCooper @AgoraBooksLDN

THE AUTHOR: Dr Carol Cooper is a practising family doctor, journalist, and mother of twins. She writes for The Sun newspaper and teaches medical students at Imperial College. Her non-fiction books include a number of parenting titles and an award-winning medical textbook. She is honorary consultant in family medicine to Tamba (the Twins & Multiple Births Association), and gives regular talks to those expecting twins, triplets, or more. Carol also broadcasts on TV and radio, and is President of the Guild of Health Writers. She has two novels to her name.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girls From Alexandria by Carol Cooper for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
Was this review helpful?
The Girls From Alexandria didn't work the way I might've hoped.
I'm not sure how to even classify this as it's a non linear narrative that fluctuated between the past and present focusing on childhood memories that weren't in chronological order.
Therefore, for someone in her late 40's that's had her own issues with long term memory this book just didn't hold up. The constant recollection of dates between the mid 50's were too rampant and off setting to keep track of and made it next to impossible to endure.
The story was one that never peaked my interest and unfortunately I had to take a DNF around the 30% point.
Thank you to Carol Cooper, the pub, NetGalley, and Amazon Kindle for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I have to say first and foremost, that. I love the cover of this book. Our main character Nadia, is a 70 year old lady, stuck in hospital and struggling with a failing memory. One thing she can remember is that she had a sister, but she’s been missing for 50 years. She has to find her family though, otherwise she faces the rest of her life in a care home. This is a race against time, because Nadia’s working with a memory that might fade and apart from some cryptic postcards it’s all she’s got. 

The structure takes a bit of time getting used to, because we’re experiencing Nadia memories and they’re fractured. The author has purposely scattered the memories, they’re not in chronological order so it takes time to piece it together in your mind. It’s a great picture of dementia and how it works, Nadia might not remembered who visited yesterday, but her memories of Egypt are very vivid and powerful. I think that’s because they’re so precious, and because they are long term memories, so Nadia has held on to them for a very long term, since the 1960s/70s. 

I found the restrictions of Egyptian culture, for successive generations of women in this family, really interesting. This felt like a feminist social history, writing back to female experience in a society that repressed women and didn’t value them. Nadia and Simone her sister, are central to this experience, but we see her aunts and grandmothers experience too. This society is deeply patriarchal and although concessions are made over the generations, the sisters are still chafing against the rules. There are more difficult scenes where male abuses of power are depicted, but even in the present day hospital scenes it’s men in charge and men make the decisions. They give the impression of thinking she’s a dotty old lady, and Nadia is so frustrated that they don’t believe she has a sister, I loved that Nadia is doggedly determined to work out Simone’s postcards, we start to get behind her and feel hopeful she will be proved right. I love that a woman stuck in bed can take us travelling back in time and to a different continent, to the richness of Alexandria. This isn’t an explosive book, it’s slow and reflective, and it’s about the importance of family, roots and being able to know where you come from as you reach your older years.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this dual time line novel set in the present day and in 1950s/60s Alexandria. I adored the author's depiction of Alexandria during this period, she really brought the time and place alive for me. I connected with the characters and the themes of the novel. The reflections on aging and memory particularly resonated with me. Highly recommended.
many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC.
Was this review helpful?
The book cleverly retells the story 9f 2 sisters growing up in Alexandria, interleaved with a modern day mystery for Nadia. It pulled at my heartstrings from beginning to end and I fell in live with Nadia and her search for Simone. Wonderful!
Was this review helpful?
I loved that this book had two mysteries: what happened to her sister Simone, and what health issue was ailing her. I also liked how it switched back and forth between the past and present. I also like how the past parts weren’t always chronologically told. I found it interesting throughout the whole book. I had to keep reading to find out what happened. It ended with a lot of unanswered questions that I want the answer to.  An excellent read.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book!!  Totally refreshing, a very different story telling than the usual historical fiction novel. 
   This story had me feeling as if I was the character Nadia, a 70 something woman stuck in the hospital, not knowing or understanding why, searching for a sister no one believes she has. 
   Nadia fell, ended up in a hospital and is befuddled, she doesn't remember thins as she should, is confused, mixing memories past and present together.  If only her sister Simone who she hasn't seen in over 50 years was here, Simone would be able to clear Nadia's head and help her remember, but how can she find Simone when no one believes she exists and Nadia is stuck in the hospital, the only clues to finding her long lost sister, a borrowed I-pad with sketchy wi-fi service and a series of old postcards sent by Simone over the last 50 years with one line cryptic messages on them. 
   I was as confused as poor Nadia reading this.  Other than her wanting to find her sister because she was sick in the hospital and alone, I had no idea where this story was going.  That something happened in the past causing Simone to leave and never return was apparent, but as for what?  Nadia has no idea and neither does the reader. 
   This story is part historical fiction and part mystery.  I was caught from the beginning, only guessing at the secret Nadia is trying to uncover with her faulty memory.  The story weaves back and forth from the present day with Nadia in an English hospital, to her past and her life with Simone in Alexandria.  The mystery of Simone's disappearance keeps you guessing until the unexpected ending! 
   This is a well written novel with wonderful descriptions of life in Alexandria, Egypt starting in the 1950s until the present.  I would recommend this to all historical fiction fans.  It is a story of family, loss and sisterhood.  I give it a 5 star rating. 
   Thank you to Agora Books publishing and Net Galley for the free ARC copy, in return I am leaving my honest review. 
Was this review helpful?
Getting older sucks. This book is told from the perspective of an older woman in a home in London. While she struggles to get through the day to day - she's also struggling to remember her life. She has memories of her family - her aunts, her mother, and her sister, Simone. BUT - Simone has been missing for 50 years - or has she? Was Simone even real?

This book was a sad read for me. The struggle of Nadia to find someone to help her, to believe her, to CARE about her was heartbreaking. This story is about family but also about caring and listening to people. It's about thinking about someone other than yourself. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.
Was this review helpful?
I was interested in this novel from summary description but on commencing the story, it was a slow start.  I could not connect with the characters, although I enjoyed the descriptions of Egypt, atmospheric!  This is a story of two young sisters, Nadia and Simone, in 1953 in Alexandria, Egypt into adulthood but not what I was expecting, I struggled.  Other readers may find more enjoyment in this novel. than I did. 

I give a 3 star rating. 

Was this review helpful?
I tried to read this, but gave up about 1/4 of the way through.  It was definitely a DNF for me.  I would still read more by the author.  However, I just didn't connect with this story.

2/5 Stars
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed the characters more than the plot, I could read about Nadia for the rest of my life and would be happy. Very pleasing cover also
Was this review helpful?
The Girls from Alexandria is a story about Nadia who is elderly and in the hospital for memory problems. She can not remember now but she remember her past. This is a cool way how Carol Cooper incorporates the now and then in the story. There is a mystery of sorts as Nadia is trying to figure out what happened to her sister who has been missing for 50 years. Both timelines of the story were interesting but a little hard to follow at times. I also must admit I was floored with the outcome of the book.
Was this review helpful?
For me this was a strange book. Told in dual timelines, it jumped back and forth from past to present. Parts of both stories were interesting. Having worked in the medical field it bothered me that the Drs didn’t always believe or appear to listen to what Nadia was saying. 
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy
Was this review helpful?
I didn't expect to love this much as I did! Not sure why. Initially, in the first couple of pages, I really wasn't sure if it was "my kind of book" but then I got hooked and discovered that it very much was. I'm intending to read the author's other books now. Hope they're as good! 
The Girls from Alexandria is the story of Nadia and flits between two time periods, her childhood and early adulthood, mainly in Alexandria in Egypt, and then later a seventy-something woman in a hospital bed, struggling with mobility and memory issues. She claims to have a sister but the hospital staff don't believe her and she hasn't seen this sister for many, many years. Will she ever track her down? And will the doctors get to the root of her health problems? 
I found the narrator very real and I think that's why I enjoyed this book so much. Loved the mingling of foreign languages in there, Arabic and French.
Was this review helpful?