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When the Apricots Bloom

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,935 ratings  ·  437 reviews
Inspired by her own experiences in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule, Gina Wilkinson’s evocative, suspenseful debut is told through the eyes of three very different women confronting the limits of friendship and forgiveness, and the strength of a mother’s love.

At night, in Huda’s fragrant garden, a breeze sweeps in from the desert encircling Baghdad, rustling the leaves of
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 29th 2020 by Hachette Australia
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  • When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson
    When the Apricots Bloom

    Release date: Feb 02, 2021
    “Breathtaking…Riveting and profound! I adored this book!” —Ellen Marie Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author

    Format: Print book

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    Availability: 50 copies available, 7070 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: May 07 - Jun 06, 2021

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 3.96  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,935 ratings  ·  437 reviews

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    Angela M
    Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I don’t read many books that are described as suspenseful, but I was taken by the description of this story. It was indeed full of suspense, but I’m glad I took the chance . During the Sadam Hussein regime in Iraq in the early 2000’s three women cross paths. Ally Wilson, wife of an Australian diplomat is searching for information about the mother she knew only until she was five years old. Her mother had spent time as a young nurse in Iraq. Huda and Rania are best friends and sign a sister pact ...more
    May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: middle-east
    The title sounds hopeful even beautiful. The reality, however, is disturbing, unnerving.
    3 women whose paths intersect in Iran. 2 Iranians, Rania & Huda- once best friends but now estranged; and Ally, an Australian diplomat’s wife who brings the 2 together unknowingly.
    Everyone needs to watch what they say and where and who they say it to. The tyrannical Sadam regime has eyes everywhere and trusts no one. Especially foreigners.
    But it’s this foreigner who unites them to save their children who are
    Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Gina Wilkinson based her book, When The Apricots Bloom, on her own experience of living in Iraq under the Saddam Hussein regime. She was previously a journalist but arrived in Iraq as "a dependent spouse". Gina Wilkinson was thirty-one years old when she lived in Iraq and was befriended by a woman informant who reported back to the regime about all of her comings and goings and who she spoke with. It was not until after Saddam Hussein's regime toppled that Gina found out about the informant. She ...more
    Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This is an atmospheric and suspenseful story partially based on the author’s year of living in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein’s rule, as a foreign correspondent.
    During her time there she lived under tight surveillance and one of her closest Iraqi friends worked as a secret police informant.
    She tells this story through the eyes of three women.
    Two Iraqi women and a diplomats wife.
    The novel shows the fear and distrust, risks, lies, and betrayals of life under this regime.
    I was riveted!
    Inspired by the author’s own time in Baghdad under the reign of Saddam Hussein, Aussie author Gina Wilkinson has produced a novel which is nothing short of horrifying as it shows the brutality of the time.

    Ally Wilson was from Australia and had accompanied her husband Tom to Iraq where his duties as Deputy Ambassador would keep him busy in Baghdad, with him often having to be away for days at a time. Ally was bored and befriended Huda, a secretary at the Australian Embassy. But Huda would fall f
    Karren  Sandercock
    Baghdad 2002: Huda, Rania and Ally all live in the Iraqi city and during the sadistic rule of Saddam Hussein. Huda works as a secretary for the Australian embassy, at night she returns home to her teenage son Khalid and her unemployed husband Abdul. Her house is a fortress, the front gates are chained, the entire home is surrounded by a high fence, she’s not game to talk freely in her own house in case it’s been bugged and speaks to her husband at night in the backyard. The mukhabarat or the sec ...more
    Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    “In Iraq, every friendship is a risk.”

    When The Apricots Bloom is the first novel by Australian former foreign correspondent, radio journalist, documentary maker and author, Gina Wilkinson. Huda al Basri and her husband, Abdul Amir both had good jobs in Baghdad, but that was before the rise of the dictator Saddam Hussein, when Western sanctions kept Iraq virtually cut off from the rest of the world. By 2002, she considers herself lucky to have a secretarial position at the Australian Embassy, alt
    Kate Baxter
    Wow! Such a moving and informative tale of life in Iraq under the heavy fist of Saddam Hussein as told by Gina Wilkinson, a former foreign correspondent of several prominent news outlets. Having lived as a "dependent spouse" in Iraq during the "regime", she has composed a well-informed tale which draws on her Iraqi experience at a time when the country was closed off to the rest of the world. From its reading one may ask, "In a country fraught with fear, suspicion and constant betrayal, can frie ...more
    Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson is a debut novel that is both powerful and memorable. The story is influenced by the authors’ time in Baghdad as a foreign correspondent and whose friend is someone whom she later realized was a secret informant.

    When The Apricots Bloom tells the tale of three women’s lives each unique in their perspectives and stories in Iraq during the ruthless reign of Saddam Hussein. The author weaves the stories beautifully in a suspenseful and atmospheric read.


    I couldn't connect with this story at all. I had expected a story between three women and a lovely friendship blossoming between them but I didn't really get that. I liked that all three of them had different situations and were strong, smart in a time of Hussein's rule. I loved the idea around it but it was slow paced.

    Also, it kind of reminded me of American Dirt as a white women is writing a POV of Iraqi women. Wilkinson definitely did her research and she did live there, based it off her exp
    Gloria Arthur
    Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: the-bookshelf
    ⭐️4 Stars⭐️
    When the Apricots Bloom is a debut novel inspired by the author’s experiences in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule where she worked as a former war correspondent.

    What would you do if the secret police demanded you spy on a friend in order to protect your family?

    The story is narrated by three women Huda, a secretary at the Australian embassy, Ally Wilson the deputy ambassador’s wife (an Australian) and Raina an artist and the daughter of a sheikh who preferred to exhibit other’s work
    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    Loyal companship, family ties and parenthood defines the direction of When the Apricots Bloom, the debut release from Gina Wilkinson. The author draws on her extensive background living and working in Iraq under the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein, to unfurl the lives of three connected women. When the Apricots Bloom is a startling, eye opening and emphatic novel.

    A book filled with many demanding questions about life, friendship and family, When the Aprico
    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    3.5 stars

    Huda and Rania were childhood best friends, torn apart by the devastating consequences of the revolution that Saddam Hussein’s rule was determined to extinguish.

    Now married with a son, Huda has found work as a secretary at the Australian embassy in Baghdad. The pay is a blessing since her husband’s career has come to a halt along with the economy. Unfortunately her position has gained the attention of the Iraqi secret police and they want her to befriend Ally Wilson, the deputy ambassad
    Kasa Cotugno
    Ally Wilson, new wife of an Australian diplomat in Baghdad, has secrets, as do the other two women featured in this novel that is set in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. But it is Ally that Gina Wilkinson identifies with most closely both have had experience as American journalists, Wilkerson shares Wilson's status as a "dependent spouse," and this setting provides the strongest element of the story. She also had the experience of having been befriended by a woman who turns out to be an informant to Sadda ...more
    Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: edelweissplus, 2020
    When the Apricots Bloom depicts the lives of three very different, but closely connected, women in Saddam Hussein's Baghdad. Huda and Rania are both Iraqi and were once close friends, but Huda's family has paid a price for participating in the unsuccessful uprising again Hussein, while Rania's wealthy and powerful family was able to save her from the repercussions of her involvement in the uprising.

    Ally, the wife of a diplomat at the Australian embassy meets both women, inadvertently bringing t
    Rosemary Reeve
    Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: ng-2020
    Beautifully written, suspenseful exploration of secrets and betrayal in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, where every friendship is a risk.

    Huda is a secretary at the Australian Embassy. She's grateful for the job, as her finance analyst husband has been unemployed because of the American economic sanctions. But there is a problem: the Iraqi secret police are pressuring Huda to spy on her boss' likeable young wife. As the menace and mistrust intensify, Huda reconnects with a childhood friend, whom she blam
    Interesting novel based on the real-life experiences of the author.
    Ally is the wife of the Australian deputy Ambassador. She is one of the few wives in the diplomatic world still living in Baghdad during the last days of Saddam Hussein and the threats from GW Bush.
    Her local secretary, Huda, is forced to report to the secret service all of Ally’s movements. Huda’s husband is unemployed and her teenage son is being groomed by a religious political group seeking to establish a post-Hussein governm
    Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: debut, arc
    Set in Baghdad, Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule, the lives of three women—two Iraqi, Huda and Rania, and one Australian/American, Ally—become dangerously entangled. Why had Ally's mom (who died when Ally was only 5 years old) spent time in Baghdad in her youth, and what secrets was she hiding? How does Ally's search for information about her mom also draw unwanted attention from the regime to Huda and Rania? Will the three women betray each other's trust to help the regime, or remain steadfast ...more
    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    Inspired by Gina Wilkinson’s own experiences as a diplomat’s wife in Iraq, When the Apricots Bloom is a thought-provoking and moving story about loyalty, betrayal, forgiveness, and hope.

    Set in Baghdad in 2002, the novel unfolds from the perspectives of three women - Ally, the wife of an Australian ambassador; Huda, Ally’s husband’s secretary; and Raina, Huda’s childhood friend.

    Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq is defined by loss, suspicion, and fear, the mukhabarat lurk everywhere looking for
    Jocelyn (shesalreadybooked)
    I really enjoyed the premises of this book and I’ve been excited to diversify my reading in 2021. I appreciate that this was based off the author’s experiences, but a white woman writing about the experiences of Iraqi women feels off to me,

    I think her writing was beautiful but I felt like it was a bit dry at the same time and found it hard to truly connect with the characters. Absolutely loved the title and the cover and the synopsis was also intriguing to me, but overall I found it a bit dry a
    Kali Cannizzaro
    May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    When the Apricots Bloom by Gina / G.D. Wilkinson

    This novel focuses on friendships new and old, with a backdrop of modern Iraq and flashbacks of the Iraq of years past. Although from very different backgrounds, Huda and Rania were friends from early childhood and marked by a blood oath they undertook together. Political turmoil and perceived deadly betrayals tore these blood sisters apart and only one thing could ever bring them back together.

    Drastic times call for the unlikely reunion of two th
    Laura Prindable
    Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This novel left me speechless. It awakened the ignorance I had for women's life in Iraq whole under Saddam Hussain's rule. Terrifying. Having to watch everything you do. Which is something us Americans take for granted. Today, after reading this book, I am thankful. Thank you #Netgalley for this awesome ARC. ...more
    This is When Apricots Bloom, or when American Dirt meets A Thousand Splendid Suns.

    This is the story of Huda, Rania and Ally. Huda and Rania are two Iraqi women, former best friends with a heavy past. Ally is the spouse of Australian Deputy Ambassador Tom Wilson. Huda works for the Australian Embassy as a local secretary. The Mukhbarat, the Iraqi secret police, is keeping as close eye on Huda as she is working for foreigners. To stay in control on all citizens, they pressure Huda to become an inf
    Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Oh... my gosh. This book stole my heart. Somebody said that a good book is when you forget you're reading a BOOK, that you don't actually know these characters. Well I was SO invested each of these characters and their stories were so complex and beautiful. I was engaged from the start, the stories of each of these three women, their pasts, their secrets, were so magnificently portrayed and written. When I read the author's background, it made sense. She had lived in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's ...more
    I think When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson will probably be my favorite book of 2021. Much like The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, gave me a brilliant look and feel of Afghanistan, When the Apricots Bloom gave me a look into the lives of two Iraqi women Rania and Huda who swore a blood oath as children but something separated them. Most of the story takes place in 2002 in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The third woman, Ally who is the young wife of Tom who is an Australian deputy ambassador is s ...more
    Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This book was hard to read, but not because of the writing (which was excellent) but because it is about a time period and place that did not reflect particularly well on humanity. The author wrote this story based on her own experiences while in Iraq as a foreigner during Saddam Hussein. This is the story of Ally, an Australian diplomat’s wife, who is in Iraq with a lot of secrets and unaware how dangerous there are. She is befriended by an embassy secretary, Huda, who is forced to be an inform ...more
    Feb 28, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Published 2021

    I know I’m in the minority here, but I was never truly hooked by this one. It was a slow start, and then I would find myself very into it, then struggling. I enjoyed reading of the Saddam Hussein regime. I can’t imagine living in Iraq at that time.
    Jennifer (JC-S)
    ‘In a perfect world, we could wait until the apricots bloom. Alas, the world is not perfect.’

    Set in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein, this novel is told through the eyes of three quite different women. Ally, wife of an Australian diplomat (a ‘dependent spouse’), has accompanied her husband on posting to Baghdad. Ally has her own reasons for wanting to be in Baghdad.

    Huda, a secretary at the Australian Embassy in Baghdad, is ordered by the mukhabarat to befriend Ally. Huda does not want t
    Dora Okeyo
    Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I saw this book on Netgalley and I had to request the publisher to read it because I was drawn to two things on the blurb: the fact that it’s set in Iraq during Saddam’s reign and the second aspect involved three different women. I asked myself what could a secretary, an artist and a diplomat’s wife have in common?

    The story delves into the need for control by Saddam’s government, enforcing rules and corrupt police officers who demand that people do as they ask and if they do not, someone close t
    Leesa Hanna
    Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I downloaded the free Sample pages from Amazon and I am so intrigued by the first chapters of this book. Insight into the intimate lives of families manoeuvring themselves for survival in a frightening world of dictator rule has me hooked. The settings are rich with colours and smells of the Middle East. I can’t wait for the full book to be released so I can keep reading. I’ve pre-ordered!
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    I'm a former foreign correspondent, radio journalist, and documentary maker for the BBC, NPR, the ABC, and other well-known public broadcasters, who decided to trade my flak jacket and reporter's notebook for an author's pen (or keyboard!).

    I've been a nomad from the age of six-months, when my parents packed me and our Siamese cat into an old Renault and set off for a remote gold-mining town in Aus

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