This novel was also scripted, by me, as a TV drama. In fact I can’t remember which came first, TV or book. Like “To Have and To Hold” it tackles another hard-hitting, controversial subject –in this case, child abduction. This topic hit the news, around this time, and in fact the TV drama did a lot to bring these casess to public notice, with questions asked in Parliament and an eventual change in the law. I wanted to write about a father stealing his children and taking them back to his country (in this case Pakistan, as I could write about the place), but I didn’t want to paint him as a villian. This would seem racist and unfair. I also believe that if a novel makes us dismiss somebody as evil, without us understanding them, then it’s not done its job of enlarging our understanding (with “Porky” this was difficult, but I tried). So I gave Salim a very good reason for taking his children home to his own country – his wife was feckless and faithless, England is increasingly brutish and so on. It helped, with the TV drama, that Salim was played by the wonderful Art Malik.
Always a rebel, Marianne was the first girl in her class to bleach her hair and learn how to smoke. A few boyfriends and one abortion later she falls in love with Salim, the proud and elegant Pakistani with eyes like treacle. East meets West in a passionate mixed marriage. However, Marianne knows little of the Islamic view of motherhood. When his wife proves unfaithful, Salim reasons that she is morally incapable of bring up her children and kidnaps them while she is at work…
“Deborah Moggach captures brilliantly the basic incompatabilities and misunderstandings that arise when two people have little knowledge of each other’s culture….both funny and moving.”
“The novel assumes the tension of detective fiction…the mother-child detail is all painfully right. This is a nicely balanced account of marital breakdown in peculiarly difficult circumstances.”