Jasmine Falling is a contemporary women’s fiction novel by Shereen Malherbe, a British Palestinian writer based in both the UK and the United Arab Emirates. Malherbe is also a writer for Muslimah Media Watch, a forum for critiquing the images of Muslim women in the media and pop culture.
Mainly told through the eyes of the main character, Jasmine Falling also dabbles into the unseen – the Djinn and human connection to be precise. The first mentioning of the Djinn in this book rather unsettled me because I didn’t read what the book was about before diving in or I thought that I had an idea of how it would be, it came to me as rather a shock. But as the story unravels with the author’s great narrative and descriptive skills of creating the setting, it all started to fall into place. If there is one thing this story does well, it is the crafty way the setting of the places in the stories are depicted. I applaud the author for really bringing the reader to the scene in Jasmine Falling.
The book description goes as this, “When Jasmine’s mother dies inside their English mansion, hope comes in the form of her multi-million pound inheritance. But with her inheritance threatened, Jasmine is left to contemplate a future she does not know how to live. Jasmine has only ten days to uncover the circumstances of her father’s decade long disappearance before her fortune is lost forever. Forced to return to his homeland in Palestine, she follows his footsteps through stories long ingrained in the local’s minds. She is helped on her journey by a mysterious stranger who guides her through the trails of the Holy Land to the scattered broken villages, each harbouring its own secrets. Under the watchful eyes of the ever-encroaching Occupation, Jasmine must piece together her history in the broken land, before it destroys her future.”
As we read, we discover that Jasmine is a troubled woman and has become such since the disappearance of her Palestinian father over a decade ago. Haunted by shadows and nightmares, she is forced to face her fears when her mother dies and she returns to her paternal roots. In this novel, Jasmine does a lot of things that make you pause and ponder on her actions. One is the numbing feeling she enjoys and gets from ‘spirits’. She furthermore has this uncanny way of falling, zoning out, and passing out. Nonetheless, she has a lot of heart and stands up for justice. We could say that she is somewhat selfless.
Jasmine Falling is also a rich Middle Eastern tale that makes us fall for a land ripped between war and other social ills. The beauty and the richness of the land are still present no matter what it went through and still goes through as shows through the pages that Malherbe penned so well. In the end, we realise that this story is also a folklore tale of love, hope, redemption, loss, and unwavering faith.
If stories of Palestine and Israel fascinate you, Jasmine Falling is definitely for you. Also, if the spirits (the unseen) of this world are something that intrigue you, don’t hesitate to give this story a chance as they have their explanations and roots in all the Abrahamic religions.