#Blogtour Diving For Pearls by Jamie O’Connell @jamieoconnell @DoubledayUK @annecater #RandomTTours #DivingforPearls

Diving for Pearls
Diving For Pearls by Jamie O’Connell Doubley Uk June 3rd 2021

The Blurb

A young woman’s body floats in the Dubai marina. Her death alters the fates of six people, each one striving for a better life in an unforgiving city.

A young Irish man comes to stay with his sister, keen to erase his troubled past in the heat of the Dubai sun. A Russian sex worker has outsmarted the system so far – but will her luck run out? A Pakistani taxi driver dreams of a future for his daughters. An Emirate man hides the truth about who he really is. An Ethiopian maid tries to carve out a path of her own. From every corner of the globe, Dubai has made promises to them all. Promises of gilded opportunities and bright new horizons, the chance to forget the past and protect long-held secrets.

But Dubai breaks its promises, with deadly consequences. In a city of mirages, how do you find your way out?

My Review

I love Instagram and many of the so called celebs I follow spend holidays or even live in Dubai. You cannot help but be bedazzled by the beautiful hotels, beaches, the rich luxurious lifestyle they enjoy, but is it all a huge front, is there something murky, unsavoury that lurks beneath the shiny exterior?

Jamie O’Connell didn’t hesitate to show Dubai at its best but where he excelled was Dubai at its worst. His characters were from all walks of life from Siobhan, a harried mother of two, wife to a wealthy businessman wrapped up in designer clothes, and ladies that lunch to Tahir, a humble Pakistani taxi driver, earning money to give his family a better life.

There was Aasim who lived a life of perceived freedom, a medical student in Dublin, a man who hid his homosexuality from his family.

Trevor sister of Siobhan, physically fit yet mentally exhausted, adrift and finally Lydia Russian sex worker part of a subversive underground out to satisfy the needs of her wealthy characters. Joan mother of Siobhan and Trevor, worried for her children yet neglectful her own life.

My favourite character had to be Gete the Ethiopian maid. She was O’Connell master stroke, our eyes, our ears, our objective commentator who watched on as events, actions tore down carefully constructed lives.

At first I felt I was reading a series of short stories as O’Connell introduced his characters and then suddenly a death, a young women’s body in Dubai Marina. It all started to make sense, Aasim’s dash home, Siobhan’s husband prolonged absence, a fretful Tahir and a cautious Lydia.

It was then Dubai’s contradiction reared it’s head, no longer the rich bright safe haven, as O’Connell unearthed police brutality, corruption, racism, sexism, a two tired legal system that supported the white, the wealthy. O’Connell spared nothing, made you angry at the injustice, the need for a quick conviction, the maintenance of Dubai’s glossy veneer.

You read as characters scrambled to protect themselves, selfish intent at the forefront, the truth hidden below the surface cruelly exposed. The wealth and glamour lost its sheen as escape seemed the only option and O’Connell left you with a distinct bad taste in the mouth. Why should money, race, social status dictate outcomes, the very poorest the ones who suffered, pay the price? Yet O’Connell also showed the importance of family, money secondary to happiness, to live a life that may not have the glamour but was somehow purer and simpler.

A fabulous debut novel that definitely provoked but also had all the elements of a damn good story.

I would like to thank Doubleday UK for a copy of Diving For Pearls to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Jamie O’Connell has had short stories highly commended by the Costa Short Story Award and the Irish Book Award Short Story of the Year. He has been longlisted for BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines Short Story Competition and shortlisted for the Maeve Binchy Travel Award and the Sky Arts Futures Fund. He has an MFA and MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin. He has worked for Penguin Random House, Gill Books and O’Brien Press. Diving for Pearls is his first novel.

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