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Fun Middle Eastern adventure
on 27 June 2004
Victoria Jones is a recently sacked shorthand typist who has an elastic approach to telling the truth, and a great longing for adventure "to Victoria an agreeable world would be one where tigers lurked in the Strand and dangerous bandits infested Tooting". She gets a chance at adventure when she meeets Edward, a handsome and charming young man on his way to Baghdad to work for an organisation called the Olive Branch, the purpose of which is to foster understanding between nations by getting young people together to read Shakespeare and Milton. He wishes that Victoria could join him there, and by a lucky coincidence, the very next day she is offered a job accompanying a lady with a broken arm on the journey out. She enterprisingly provides herself with fake references and claims to be the niece of archaeologist Dr Pauncefoot Jones, excavating at Basra. Victoria is entranced by Baghdad, but before she has a chance to find Edward, a wounded man stumbles into her hotel room and dies in her bed. Who is he? And who is the mysterious Mr Dakin? And what are the people at the Olive Branch really up to. And who on earth is Anna Scheele? This is a tremedously enjoyable book. Victoria is a delightful heroine, imaginative, romantic, enterprising, and quite outrageously untruthful. There are wonderful vivid descriptions of Baghdad, a complicated and exciting plot, and plenty of humour. Great fun.