Jasmine Nights was one of those books that just sucked me in. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. It is the story of Saba, who has a gorgeous voice but whose family does not want her to be a singer. And it is the story of Dom, a pilot still recovering both mentally and physically from a plane crash that nearly killed him, and the memory of his dead friends. World War II is in full swing, and both of them end up getting out of England into Egypt to help the war effort. Dom is finally flying again. Saba is working with the ENSA singing for the troops. When Saba gets a chance to really help the war effort by going undercover, she worries about keeping the secret from Dom. And all the while the war is still going on, and Dom could die any day on one of his many flights.
I so loved this book. I loved that it was told from a different perspective. I've read many books that take place in the US on the homefront, and even about the men at war, but I've never read a book in the perspective of an English woman in Africa during the war. It was so interesting. I also loved that she entertained the troops, because I always hear stories about the performances that singers and dancers would put on for troops, but I've never read a book about those people.
I was enchanted by the Egypt brought to life in this book. There is a constant fear of being attached by Germany, yet the people there still have lives, still work, still try to find happiness and entertainment wherever and whenever they can. The descriptions bring Cairo and Alexandria to life.
My favorite character was actually not Saba (though I really did love her!). Arleta, Saba's friend in ENSA, was just so extravagant and out there and I just adored her. She reminded me of main character's blond haired English friend in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun (do you know the lady?? I can't remember her name..). Anyway, Arleta seemed so superficial in the beginning but turned out to be quite the lady. Saba also changes throughout the book. She is kind of scared to get out there and be herself in the beginning, but the slow transformation was so much fun to see.
I highly recommmend Jasmine Nights. While it wasn't perfect, it was a really wonderful book. Definitely the kind of book that you could read on the beach or on a porch swing in one day.
A favorite quote:
Page 406 (on my Nook): Sometimes you are happy without knowing it, and sometimes you are happy and completely aware of it-its preciousness, its fleetingness."
Oh, and for the record, I imagined Saba sang like Jo Stafford, my favorite female vocalist from back in the day. Here she is singing "You Belong to Me", one of my favorite songs ever.
Title: Jasmine Nights
Author: Julia Gregson
Date of Publication: June 5th, 2012
Number of Pages: 432
Source: Ebook from Netgalley