This book is a rather long story, focusing on an elaborate family saga that takes as its focus two specific moments set against the backdrop of the rather troubled and complex history of modern Egypt. The story begins in New York in 1997 when Isabel Parkman stumbles across some old documents, with some in Arabic and some in English. These are in the apartment of her mother who is shortly to pass on. Her lack of Arabic means that she goes to Omar al-Ghamrawi, a man that she is falling in love with, to help her. Omar then sends her to his sister Amal, who lives in Cairo. Working together, these two women work to discover the history of Lady Anna Winterbourne and the stories in her journal. This woman travelled to Egypt in 1900 and fell in love with Sharif Pasha al-Barudi, who was an Egyptian nationalist. There are a few uncanny parallels between the two time periods, but there is also clear evidence of the same kind of themes and problems that plague both time periods: colonialism, the violent clash of cultures and nationalism in Egypt. The two twin stories both have their own ending, with the 19th century story being rather tragic, and the modern-day story ending in a somewhat ambiguous fashion. But I don't want to spoil the ending for you!