Zaida, an imaginative teenager, wants to bring her divorced parents back together.
It’s November 2008, and a family squabble over their daughter’s holiday escalates into a nightmare, involving the detention of English and Syrian family members by Assad’s intelligence forces.
In Syria, the Al-Sayeds have no qualms about prolonging Zaida’s holiday; they cherish the 12 year-old who looks like the girl they lost in an Lebanese refugee camp. Zaida’s father has returned home to a family business closely interlocked with the regime, and with Zaida in his beautiful Damascus house he rediscovers the joyful art of fatherhood.
In Leaford, Virginia Franklin waits anxiously for news from her daughter. Was it the right thing to let her go? Alternating between a family-run acupuncture clinic in Britain and Syria before the civil war, the book fuses themes of parental love, cultural transmission, forgiveness, trust and betrayal.