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By Brian Moore

France, 1856: Emmeline Lambert is married to an illusionist despatched via Napoleon III to cajole the Arabs - poised for holy battle and in thrall to charismatic leaders - that France's may well and magic are the higher. Emmeline starts to suppose like an illusionist herself, while she dazzles the Emperor after which sheds her inhibitions in addition to flimsy notions of patriotism and propriety within the scorching glare of the Algerian solar. energy, politics, faith and love, the courtroom of Napoleon III and the deserts of Algeria mix during this mesmerising novel from a grasp storyteller.

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Perhaps. ' she declared bitterly. ' She presented her back to him then, groping in the bag that hung from one shoulder for the handkerchief she couldn't find. Jason watched her helpless fumblings for several minutes, and then extracted his own handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. But instead of thanking him, as he had expected, she snatched the pristine square of white linen and threw it on the floor, deliberately grinding the heel of her boot upon it. Jason stared, bleak-eyed, as she kicked the now soiledhandkerchief aside, and rubbed her nose unhygienically on the back of her hand.

Miss Holland was only too willing to agree, but she , followed Alexandra into her room when the woman had gone, and sank down rather wearily onto the bed. ' she asked, as the girl walked rather thoughtfully towards the open balcony doors, and Alexandra looked back at her with some misgivings. ' she exclaimed, trying to subdue the irritating feeling of anti-climax she herself was feeling, and her companion gave a somewhat helpless shrug of her shoulders. 'I get the feeling we're not altogether welcome," she confessed, taking out her handkerchief and wiping the grime of the journey from her, rather anxious features.

He knew instinctively that Miss Holland would have taken the post, wherever it was. She had that sort of de- feated air about her that smacked of too many interviews and too many disappointments. Nowadays, people wanted modern young governessess for their children, not middle- aged women, however well qualified. Miss Holland just wanted to work, and he wondered how long it was since she had done so. Still, he reflected wryly, he had enough prob- lems of his own right now. He couldn't be blamed for what was indisputably evident.

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