THE SHEIKH’S GUARDED HEART (or Where Do You Get Your Ideas?)
I was given a copy of The Most Beautiful Gardens in the World by Alain Le Toquin, a couple of Christmases ago. It’s one of those large, coffee table books with stunning fold out pictures of gardens in locations as diverse as Italy, the United States, China and New Zealand. But the ones that drew me back were Bagh-e Shahadet and Bagh-e Fin in Iran. These were ancient gardens, dating back to Cyrus the Great who conquered this region 2,500 years ago, and incorporating architecture, planting, water-rills and shade-giving pavilions into their design – a reflection of heaven on earth.
The following May, Penelope Hobhouse, the celebrated gardener and traveller, came to Aberglasney, a garden very near my home, to give an illustrated talk based on her book, The Gardens of Persia.
From Penelope I learned that Xenophon translated the Persian pairidaeza (a combination of pairi, meaning “around” and daeza meaning “wall”) into the Greek paradeisos, a term used for the Garden of Eden in Greek translation of the Bible. In modern Persian (Farsi) the word ferdous means both paradise and garden.
Life, it seemed was conspiring to point me in one direction. I had my setting; all I needed now, was a story.
Obligingly, Lucy Forrester, distraught, angry, appeared over the horizon, heading for the mountains that provide a natural boundary between the states of Ras al Hajar (HIS DESERT ROSE,) and Ramal Hamrah, in search of the man she’d married. She never gets there, instead losing her way and her heart to Sheikh Hanif al-Khatib, a man who has exiled himself from his family, his country, his life.
THE SHEIKH’S GUARDED HEART will be published in September in both the UK and the US, and in Australia in October. Email me for a “taster” first chapter at email@example.com