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Friday, June 3, 2016

Chains of Sand by Jemma Wayne - Guest Post & Book Review

About Jemma Wayne
Politically engaged from a young age, Jemma Wayne graduated from Cambridge University with an academic scholarship for her achievements in Social and Political Sciences, before becoming a journalist and author. Jemma comes from a creative family, where her father is the composer Jeff Wayne who wrote the musical ‘The War of the Worlds’, based on the HG Wells novel, her brother Zeb Wayne is an acclaimed DJ and her sister is the actress Anna-Marie Wayne. Jemma’s first novel, After Before, was published by Legend Press in 2014. It was long-listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize and was short-listed for the Waverton Good Read Award. Jemma’s writing is regularly featured in the Evening Standard, Independent on Sunday, Jewish Chronicle and she is a columnist for The Jewish News and a regularly featured blogger at The Huffington Post. Jemma Wayne’s first non-fiction title, Bare Necessities – a tongue-in-cheek guide to being a grownup – was published by Piatkus Books in 2004. Her play, Negative Space, ran at The New End Theatre, Hampstead, in 2009 to critical acclaim. Jemma lives in North London with her husband and two small children.
Guest Post

Writing about love that crosses boundaries

Almost every relationship crosses some kind of boundary. Perhaps it is age, religion, ethnicity; or perhaps it is merely an internal shift, a decision to make oneself acutely vulnerable to the feelings and actions of another, dismantling the well-practised frontier of Me and building a We. Love can do that.

There is a moment in Chains of Sand where Dara, a young Jewish Girl, and Kaseem, a slightly older Arabic man finally have sex. Dara describes it as a crossing over, as treason. She is aware of what she is doing, what she is risking, how fiercely society will condemn it, condemn her. But she also knows she would do it again and again. She is in love. And love can do that.

Writing about this kind of love is liberating. It allows characters to find empathy where they may otherwise hold prejudice. Or to experience both, to feel them collide. To unpack their identities in ways that are affecting and surprising. To pull the world around them in unpredictable directions. Exactly as happens in life. Because sometimes it takes the explosion of something unforeseen to shake up the ordinary and force a confrontation with deep-rooted, long-trodden paths. And love can do that.

Exploring issues in Israel and Gaza, this kind of love is not only a useful narrative tool, it is intrinsic to being able to feel hopeful about the region’s non-fiction future. One of the things that inspired me to write Chains of Sand, was seeing how polarising this conflict is, how black and white and entrenched the arguments. How devoid both sides too often are of empathy. When tensions are as vicious and protracted as this one, hatred is understandably profound. But at the heart of everything remains…hearts. Humanity. On both ‘sides’. And to break down boundaries, this is what must be remembered. This is what must be illuminated. And love can do that.
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Review by Suze
Udi fought in the army for several years and is now looking for a good job. He dreams about leaving Israel and wants to start over in England. He thinks he'll find happiness there. There's one obstacle though, he has a girlfriend, Ella, who doesn't want to move. Will their love be strong enough to survive this?
Daniel is a Jewish investment banker. He doesn't feel complete in England and wants to move to Israel. He thinks he'll be able to find what he misses there. There's also a woman he likes very much and maybe Israel is even more attractive because of her. Is it wise to move to a country that's at war with a possibility of having to fight in the army?
Several years before Udi and Daniel want to leave their countries the Jewish Dara meets the Arabic Kaseem. They fall in love and don't care what people think about them. Will they have a happy ending?
Can you ever leave your past completely behind to start a new future?
Chains of Sand is an impressive book. There are several distinctive points of view and at first I didn't know what the connection was between the stories, which made me curious from the start. Eventually Jemma Wayne links them in a fantastic way. Her beautiful writing made me love the story straight away. It was amazing to read such a sensitive and sympathetic story about love, war and suffering. Love is the most precious thing there is and it's more important than anything else in the world. Love can break and destruct, but it can also heal and it can give inspiration and new chances.

Two countries are playing an important role in this story. It was informative to see them through Jemma Wayne's eyes. She writes vividly and I could easily picture the various settings and scenes. I especially liked how she approaches the same situation from several different angles, which gave me a lot of food for thought.
Udi is a soldier who isn't able to find a good job after leaving the army. He's only sure about one thing in his life and that is his love for Ella. Daniel has had several relationships that didn't work out, but he thinks Israel will make him whole. They don't let others decide for them and follow their heart. I think Jemma Wayne has described that in a terrific manner. This book surprised me in so many ways and all of them were good. I love it when a story isn't what I expected it to be and this story is certainly unique. The main characters are real and approachable. I love how that complements the complexity of the story. Chains of Sand is special and it's a novel that will stay with me for a very long time.


  1. Wow this book sounds very interesting. Fantastic interview and I love the background information on the author.

  2. I like that this story is told from different POVs.