Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Olives: love amid terror and espionage in Jordan

Alexander McNabb captures the essence of the Middle East's problems in a "violent romance" set in Jordan.

Set against the politically charged backdrop of modern-day Jordan and related from the perspective of an expat British writer, there are a multitude of areas through which Alexander McNabb could have stumbled in Olives. Thankfully, he at least captures the essence of the region’s problems, no doubt helped by years of experience working in the Middle East.

Described as “a violent romance”, Olives relates the tale of star-crossed lovers, the journalist Paul Stokes and Aisha Dajani, a worker at Jordan’s Ministry of Natural Resources. That the latter happens to be from a Palestinian family suspected of terrorist activities further complicates affairs when Paul is roped into spying on Daoud Dajani, an ambitious businessman with a stake in the bidding war for Jordan’s dwindling water supplies.

The intensity of Paul and Aisha’s love story is the novel’s defining strength with their intimacy heating up to a feverish pitch as disasters escalate and put them at risk. However, despite the emotive nature of McNabb’s descriptions during these scenes, the rest of the novel falls short as the plot makes haste for the finish line too soon at critical points.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National