The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon [in Library Journal]
After introducing a stupendous community of left-behind stateside military wives in her debut collection, You Know When the Men Are Gone, Siobhan Fallon presents in her first novel two women who have accompanied their U.S. Army husbands to Jordan. Shared circumstances ease Cassie and Margaret into a tenuous friendship.
Cassie’s been based in Jordan for two years, having carefully adjusted to the explicit rules of being an American in a volatile foreign country. Her marriage is faltering, further frayed by her childlessness. Asked to guide newly arrived Margaret’s expat immersion, Cassie’s initial reluctance dissipates, even as she envies Margaret’s new marriage and toddler son. Naïvely free-spirited, Margaret seeks adventure where she should exercise caution.
A minor traffic accident sends Margaret to the police station, leaving her son in Cassie’s care. Free to roam the apartment, Cassie finds Margaret’s diary and begins to read; when Margaret doesn’t return, her written secrets may be the only means of finding her.
As individual readers, Lauren Fortgang (Cassie) and Jorjeana Marie (Margaret) are equally convincing, but their voices are often indistinguishable – frustratingly ironic as their characters are so varied. Such careless production choices yield disappointing results, which may send readers to the printed page.