Into Suez is an absorbing new novel by Stevie Davies, whose previous novels have been longlisted for both the Booker and the Orange Prize.
Stevie Davies’s Into Suez, which I’ve just finished, is a bold and gripping novel on an important subject, with a beautifully handled double time frame, and some of Davies’s best prose yet. She writes so well about childhood, landscape, class, British social attitudes and Arab realities. The careful research never intrudes and always rings true. Her characters are rounded in time, grounded in place. A very satisfying and moving book." Margaret Drabble, The Telegraph 15 July 2010
Stevie Davies is one of our most consistent and continually undervalued writers whose unsentimental, quietly revelatory novels have cropped up on the Booker and Orange shortlists without ever quite converting to a major prize. Into Suez, her 11th novel, deserves to be the one that brings wider renown, as it presents the most fully realised fusion of her personal and political histories to date." The Guardian
The Empire Glory cruise liner, 1949. On board are Ailsa, travelling to Suez with her young daughter to join her RAF officer husband, and Mona, a talented pianist and free spirit. The women become friends, and once in Egypt, their bond grows stronger.
Meanwhile, the nationalist movement is gaining momentum in its quest to throw off the bonds of colonial authority. Like Egypt, Ailsa begins to demand her freedom, bringing her into conflict with her husband Joe. When Joe tries to call her to order, there are devastating consequences for both of them.
Into Suez is a story of friendship, love, and painful decisions, set against a background of tension, as both the political and the personal build to a crisis.
There are many other pleasures in this book - the characters of Mona and her husband, the utterly convincing settings of 1950s Egypt, whether in Army quarters or at the Luxor tombs - but its real value is as a deeply felt novel that manages to combine in a masterly synthesis political history and the way that it moulds and warps the lives of human beings." William Palmer, The Warwick Review
To read more of about Stevie's motivations for and experience of writing this novel visitWaterstones Books Quarterly on-line where Into Suez was the inaugural title for their Celebrating Independents campaign. You may also listen to what Stevie has to say of her early childhood and subsequent return to Egypt or read what Louise Laurie has to say of the novel.
About the author
Stevie Davies, novelist and historian, was born in Wales. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Fellow of the Welsh Academy. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Swansea University. Her non-fiction includes works on Milton and Emily Bronte, Donne, Vaughan, Virginia Woolf and the radical women of the English Civil War and Interregnum.
Her first novel was Boy Blue (1987), which won the Fawcett Society Book Prize. Other novels include Closing the Book(1994), shortlisted for the same prize; The Web of Belonging, shortlisted for the Portico Prize and the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year Award; The Element of Water (2001), winner of the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year Award; and Kith and Kin (2004). In The Eyrie (2007), she tells the incendiary story of Red Dora, an elderly veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Her latest work is the epic historical novel set in Egypt in the run-up to the Egyptian Revolution and the Suez Crisis, Into Suez(2010).
Stevie has published many articles and short stories. Her plays, broadcast as BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Plays include Unbridled Spirits, The Element of Water, The Web of Belonging and Pod.
Davies writes with an intensity which is simultaneously disturbing and exhilarating; her prose has a marvellous lyricism whether she is describing the heat of Ismalia or the rain in Wales." Times Literary Supplement