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The Confusion of Languages

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  3,617 ratings  ·  580 reviews
“A gripping, cleverly plotted novel with surprising bite.”—Phil Klay

“Mesmerizing and devastating....Two military wives must explore a modern-day, cultural labyrinth in this insatiable read.”—Sarah McCoy

A searing debut novel from the award-winning author of You Know When the Men are Gone, about jealousy, the unpredictable path of friendship, and the secrets kept in marr
Kindle Edition, 333 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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My sister’s husband was career military and I was always curious about their life as a family within military communities at home and abroad. This author’s husband was an officer in the U.S. Army and she drew on her own experiences for this novel, which contributes to its credibility for me. As such, this novel was a compelling glimpse into the life of an expat as it examines the friendship and tensions between two American military wives in Jordan.

The novel’s setting is within a military commun
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Confusion of Languages is described as a “shattering portrait of a collision between two women,” and in its most elemental sense, it is. But in a deeper sense, the book is about what the whole striving human race has in common – desire, always reaching and needing more.

Cassie Hugo and her husband Dan – veterans of the U.S. Embassy in Jordan – welcome a new American couple, Margaret and Crick Brickshaw. The women, despite their superficial common ties, are really polar opposites. Cassie has g
switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
War novels about the men who fight for their countries or who become lifers in the military have always flourished in historical fiction and literature, especially during or after uprisings, conflicts, or major wars. But few have written in-depth about the wives that hold down the fort at home, and how they endure when the men are away. You Know When the Men Are Gone, Fallon’s rich and formidable first book, interconnected stories about the army wives at Fort Hood, placed her squarely as a comma ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I had always assumed kindness was too fleeting, too weak and insubstantial to make a lasting difference, but again, maybe I'm wrong...It is so easily destroyed, kindness, but isn't that what all of us are looking for, every moment of our sad and sorry lives?"

I've just smudged my mascara and eye makeup all over my face because my natural reaction to something that moves me is to rub my eyes with balled up fists. Ugh! And I've just finished this book, and sitting here thinking about what to write
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fallon's excellent collection of short stories "You Know When the Men are Gone" immersed me in a world (Fort Hood Army Base) that I knew very little about and her debut novel does the same thing with Amman, Jordan. Cass and Margaret are unlikely friends, thrown together only because their husbands are both stationed in Amman. This unsettling novel explores their relationship and at the same time has an element of suspense. I can't wait to see what Fallon will do next. ...more
In January 1998, my husband and I landed in Frankfurt, Germany. We had been married for seven months and had left the United States with very little in the way of life experience. My husband was a relatively new Second Lieutenant in the Army, and this was our very first military assignment.

During the three years we lived there, we tried to see as much as possible but often had to postpone or cancel trips because of a surprise military exercise or other emergency action. While my husband did not
Kasa Cotugno
The Confusion (from the Latin confundere, to mingle) of Languages (based on the Latin for tongue, lingua).

Cassie and Margaret meet in Annam, Jordan, in 2011, the year of the Arab Spring and also of the death of Osama Bin Laden. Their military husbands working in the American Embassy, have been assigned to Rome, assured their wives will "do fine" as long as they have each other and follow the laws of their host nation. The first chapter narrated by Cassie, sets the scene. We learn that she and M
Judith E
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Cassie is Margaret’s sponsor/mentor while they reside in Amman, Jordan. Their military husbands have been temporarily relocated to the U.S. embassy in Italy and Cassie tries to teach free-spirited Margaret how to respect Jordanian cultures and how to remain safe in a politically precarious country. These two women couldn’t be more opposite and what ensues is an unusual relationship.

This is great storytelling while revealing what life is like as an expat and the wife of a military husband in a t
Set within the expat community of Amman, Jordan on the cusp of the Arab Spring, The Confusion of Languages is a story of the intricate and complicated bonds of friendship. It is also a deep look into an aspect of military life that we are not often privy to: the home life of a military partner who trails behind, making a home in difficult places, both sheltered and threatened by their spouse's chosen career.

Cassie has been in the Middle East for a few years, if not exactly comfortable, at least
Apr 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I felt like the plot of this was one big buildup to nothing, this was a relatively solid book with some interesting details.

I've got to admit, one of the biggest reasons I picked up this book was because it was set in Jordan and I was curious to see how the author would handle this. I felt like the representation of Arab hospitality was well done, but the way that certain scenes went was honestly quite disappointing because ultimately all interactions kind of left me with a sickened taste
K.C. Evans
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Having spent time in the Middle East, Fallon's work amazes me with how she captures and distills the essence of living abroad. The storyline is taut, pulling the read further and further into the world of her two protagonists. These characters jump off the page as they try to navigate the ins and outs of a foreign culture, of marriage, and of friendship. And in a way they serve as metaphors for the U.S.'s involvement in the Middle East - should we dive in and try and fix what ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
I really enjoyed Siobhan Fallon’s “You Know When the Men are Gone” and was hoping her second book would be as good, it is!!!

We are introduced to two women, two military wives, who are living in Jordan, their husbands have been stationed there. Cassie and her husband Dan have been in Jordan for a few years and are asked to introduce Margaret and her husband Crick along with their one year old son Mather to the other families living on this base. They are fresh from the states and know nothing ab
Mary Lins
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
I'm so glad I had the weekend to read Siobhan Fallon's, "The Confusion of Languages", because it consumed my Saturday - I simply couldn't put it down. The dual narratives of two Army wives stationed in Jordan during the Arab Spring, started of well and just got better and better, deeper and deeper, the suspense and dread building steadily and keeping this reader in thrall.

Cassie, is the experienced Army wife, her husband Dan has been working in the US Embassy in Amman for some time, so she is na
Andria Williams
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gripping, fascinating novel that I looked forward to reading every night after I got my kids to bed -- well, for the three nights that it took me to finish it. I kept having to tell myself to slow down because I wanted to savor Fallon's witty dialogue and smart, pointed insights, at the same time that I was desperate to know what happened to the characters!

Fallon has a keen nose for the nuance of relationships, which she put on display mightily with her collection of short stories, 'Y
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't quite do it for me. Lost interest around 25% but stuck with it till 57%. ...more
Golshan Tabatabaie
it was a waste of time.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, arc
See more of my book reviews at

American couple Cassie and Dan Hugo have been living in Jordan for the past two years. In that time, they've grown more familiar with their new environment, though never quite comfortable in the volatile region. Cassie, especially, is struggling, since she's been unable to get pregnant and, therefore, has fewer things in common with most of the military wives who have young children. Her infertility woes aren't helping the quality of her relatio
Jill Dobbe
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story about two unrelated women married to military service men stationed in Amman, Jordan. Cassie is the sponsor for newly arrived Margaret and her son and becomes embroiled in Margaret's life as she scoffs at safety rules that expats are warned to follow, and sets off to see the sites and make friends with Jordanians.

The author is a gifted storyteller and is familiar with life as an expat. She gives readers a good understanding of what life is like for American expats living in the Middle Ea
Amy Yingling
Consequences suck, we make tons of little decision every day that can have unforeseen consequences, some of those consequences may be small, but some have a rippling effect that snowballs out of control. To me, this book is a lesson about all those little choices that add up and then take on a life all their own. Those choices can be negative or positive and still sometimes come out with negative consequences. As I was reading this book I was sure it was going to be a 3 star read for me, but tho ...more
Cian O hAnnrachainn
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

That's the tag line that best fits this particular narrative.

Cassie Hugo is as structured as could be, a control freak whose military husband is deployed to Jordan. So aware of the dangers of radical Islam, she sees a Bin Laden in every Arabic face and threats around every corner.

She's annoying and unlikeable and if author Siobhan Fallon says it once she says it more than enough times. Cassie, being infertile, has an attitude about babies. I got it
Tara Chevrestt
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I read this book, I really disliked it, not because of the writing or even the style though that did take some adjustment at first as it goes from present back to what is being read in a journal, but because I didn't like either of the women. Yet, I have to admit, it's a brutally honest depiction of women in real life. The jealousy, the need to be accepted, the looking down on others, the finding of faults... Sadly, most women, instead of picking each other up, put each other down, and are tw ...more
Sarah Swann
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a beautifully written novel. This follows two women who are living in Jordan with their Army husbands who work at the American embassy. One is seasoned in the ways of the country and what to do and what NOT to do. The other is a new wife, new mother, and complete free spirit, to her detriment at times. In times of turmoil for the country and region, they have to be careful about where they go and who they talk to. Both women are flawed in their own ways and both believe themselves to b ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A longer review is available on my blog:

Cassie is a bit annoying. She is so cautious that she comes off as culturally insensitive. She assumes that all of the men in Jordan wish her harm and all of the women are judging her for not being conservative enough. Margaret is more open-minded and caring about others, regardless of their nationality. Margaret may be a little too trusting but she does so with the aim of being kind to other people. This book was re
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cassie Hugo is an American soldier’s wife. She has survived in Jordan, where Dan is stationed by learning the rules and customs and following them as carefully as possible. Lonely and struggling to get pregnant, Cassie’s marriage is beginning to falter. The couple silently blame each other for everything that is missing from their lives and elusive family. When Margaret Brickshaw arrives she appears to be all that Cassie dreams of. Thin and beautiful, married to a handsome, strapping soldier and ...more
I loved this book for so many reasons. It starts with the friendship of two soldiers' wives in post-Arab Spring. The husbands' are stationed at the American Embassy in Jordan. Cassie and Margaret, the wives, form an unlikely friendship since Cassie is unable to conceive while Margaret has a baby boy named Mather. Some parts of the book were darn right funny when the author was writing about the antics of baby Mather. This was a wonderful story about two American military wives who bond in Jordan ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's wondered what it's like to live in the Middle East
The one sentence review: Sometimes you can't fix your mistakes.

This is a solid first novel. And as a military spouse living in the Middle East for 18 months and counting (although in Bahrain, not Jordan), a lot of the cultural differences are the same. Avoid State Department-designated red zones. Be in before curfew. Don't disappear or leave the country without telling someone. Maintain vigilance at all times. Do not behave in a provocative manner towards males; if you wear short shorts and a ha
Kelly Lacey
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So the past few days I went on a surprising journey to the Middle East, over the period of an Arab Spring. With the book The Confusion Of Languages, I don't think I have read about Jordan so everything was new to me. First, of I should say how easy of a read this is, it is not packed with ever long descriptions or filled with unknown or difficult languages. Because the story is based on two American families living in the U.S Embassy in Jordan. It's there story we hear.

I enjoyed both of the mai
Linda Zagon
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to thank First to Read and G..P Putnam's Sons for the ARC of "The Confusion of Languages" by Siobhan Fallon for my honest review. The genre of this story is Adult Fiction. There is also some historical reference.

I appreciate the author's description of the location in Jordan, and the various people affiliated with the American Embassy and those that live there.

The characters are described as complicated and complex. The story-line is about two women, Cassie and Margaret who are
lucky little cat
Wow. Riveting and intense tale of instant friendship between two army wives living in Jordan. One is too cautious, the other not nearly cautious enough. What happens when a starry-eyed feeder of stray cats insists on having adventures? Her worry-wart (okay, OCD) friend can't seem to nag her into falling into line, but can't stop trying.

Full of wry, trenchant, and just occasionally twisted observations on married life, friendship, and how best to approach living in a community and the world.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, other
While I really, really, really disliked a character (and part of my enjoyment was in disliking her), I was fascinated by the world they lived in and accidentally learned a lot. It made for a great book club discussion book!
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Siobhan Fallon is the author of the PEN Center USA Literary Fiction Award winning short story collection, You Know When the Men Are Gone, as well as the novel, The Confusion of Languages. Her essays and stories have been featured in the anthologies Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, and The Kiss: Intimacies from Writers, as well as New York Times Modern Love, Washington Post Magazin ...more

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“I want to believe he's trying; isn't that what this is all about, what everything is all about, marriage, parenting, life? Just trying to do the best you can as often as you can?” 0 likes
“There was so much he could have said and chose not to. “I didn’t pry into your past, Margaret. I don’t pry into your life before we met, so don’t do it to me.”
And that was it, there was nothing more to say. I nodded my head and ever since I’ve made myself comfortable in this limbo of not knowing. Sleepless in this bed I made.”
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