Interlude In Kosovo is the second novel written by former doctor turned author, Robert Hedley. It was published in 2018 by Michael Terence Publishing.
Synopsis: ” Dr. Claire Peters flees her unfaithful husband, James, to work for The World Health Organisation in post-war Kosovo. Her husband follows, hoping for reconciliation.
Both take lovers, she a French Captain in KFOR (Kosovo Force), part of UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) he a beautiful Kosovar, wife of a senior member of the KLA (Kosova Liberation Army), catapulting both into a mix of Kosovo politics and criminality…” (an overview by goodreads).
Firstly, I would like to thank the author for gifting this book to me in exchange for my review!
I was immediately drawn to the title of this book as one who has essentially grown up in an environment where I was surrounded by Kosovans and Albanians, particularly during my school years, when there was a sharp increase in the number of migrant Kosovans to London in the aftermath of the war. Many of my schoolmates were Kosovan yet I knew little to nothing about the political unrest in their country and had the vaguest knowledge of a war that ravaged their land so when Robert asked me to review this book, I was very much eager to do so.
The writing in this novel is flawless; it sets the scene perfectly and the plot progresses at a comfortable speed that eases the reader into the story before the pacing suddenly picks up towards the end.
The story is loosely based on Hedley’s own experiences, also working for the World Health Organization in Kosovo during the post-war period, therefore there is a strong medical presence in this novel, however this didn’t detract from the book’s other core themes of political uncertainty, destitution, criminality and infidelity.
I particularly enjoyed the arc surrounding one of the ethnic Albanian characters, where the story conveyed an air of mystery and villainy, the development of which I found to be extremely multi-layered and made me sympathize with their character.
However, I was mostly underwhelmed by the development of the main characters; Claire and James, particularly the latter, not because of his lack of his restraint, or the fact that women seem to want to take their clothes off when there’re around him, but because of the bad decisions he constantly makes throughout the novel which made it difficult for me to empathize with his character.
I also wasn’t keen on the ending which felt a bit too sudden and rushed. The pacing of the novel picked up towards the end which I loved as it built suspense but it also meant that some of the mystery was handled with only cursory detail and therefore left underdeveloped. I was overall satisfied with how it ended but not so much on its execution.
Interlude In Kosovo was nonetheless an extremely enjoyable and insightful read that I would easily recommend. I would definitely read this book again purely for the enjoyment value and not as a critic as I love the story-telling and the light it sheds on the history and culture of Kosovo as well as the cataclysmic effects of oppression at the hands of a Serbian dictator.
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