Like the surf undulating against the shore, the sands of the Sahara ebb and flow with the wind. Alice George watches the English waters, recalling the life she left behind years ago when she roamed the desert with the Tuareg, a tribe of nomadic warriors. Separated by decades and distance, it had been easy to keep these two lives far removed from one another, that is, until circumstances cause her past and present to collide and Alice’s carefully crafted existence to crumble.
The novel, Blue Desert, by Celia Jeffries, tells the tale of Alice, an independent-minded, carefree young lady whose family has been uprooted from English soil and transplanted in Moroccan sand. While her sister and mother spurn their new surroundings, Alice finds the scent of spices, the sear of the sun, and the locals’ customs and culture scintillating.
Two years pass, and Alice’s family has learned to live in their new home, albeit reluctantly. One afternoon, Alice, her father, and her sister, along with their driver, embark on a trip in an adjacent town. Not long into the journey, an accident happens, and Alice’s father dies. The driver abducts Alice, intending on selling her to the highest bidder. She is “rescued” by Abu, a leader of the Tuareg.
For a couple of years, Alice remains with the Abu, that is until unrest comes to the region and around the world. In August 1914, Europe was plunged into a Great War. A few years later, the Tuareg and other natives of the northern African nations began to rebel against their colonial rulers. Alice is caught in the middle of the tensions. Although she feels at home with the Tuareg, she is not one of them.
In 1917, Alice is returned to her mother and sister, only to find herself an outsider in a world she once belonged. Soon, Alice realizes that the only way that she will be able to cope with these changes and move on is to forget Abu and the Sahara. For almost 60 years, Alice stays silent about those “lost years”, that is until one day when she receives a telegram that brings the past back and changes her life forever.
Like shifting sands and ebbing waves, Blue Desert flows back and forth between the present and the past, pulling you in and taking you along on Alice’s journey. Heart-wrenching yet heartwarming, this novel might be, at times, difficult to read, but it is even more difficult to put down.