Quite a tall order. But somehow Englard pulls it off. In spades.
This author’s first novel has a well-developed plot filled with drama, romance, adventure, intrigue, history, and current events. The Gilboa Iris treats subjects as widely disparate as espionage and counter espionage, advanced weaponry, Kibbutz life, PTSD, neo-Nazis, the Mossad, and the U.S. State Department. There are exotic locations: the story takes the reader from Israel, to the United States, all the way to the Zehlendorf Forest in Germany. And there is love, global terror, and bravery.
Not too many authors could keep this many plot lines in motion. But Englard manages to juggle it all without ever once faltering or dropping a ball. Somehow she makes it work.
The Gilboa Iris, like all good books, starts with the action. The reader is right there alongside the gutsy protagonist, Dara Harrow, making choices she never thought she would have to make. Difficult choices. Heartrending, even. But oh so necessary.
There is a love interest. In fact, without giving away too much; there is more than one love interest. But while the book gets pretty steamy at times, Englard gives her readers much credit. The love scenes sizzle without getting too graphic. The author lets the intelligent reader fill in the blanks. The reader also knows that Dara and Roni are made for each other, as we witness their gut reactions to events over which they have no control.
Does Her Homework
As befits the writing of a work of historical fiction, Englard does her homework. The writer would have had to do much research in many areas to write so knowledgeably of advanced weaponry, the topography of so many countries and cities, and neo-Naziism. Thanks to Englard’s dedicated background work, those who read The Gilboa Iris will come away with a far better grasp of the Middle East and the threat of global terror.
Englard, who also writes for the Ops and Blogs page of The Times of Israel, is a native New Yorker who makes her home in Gush Etzion. One can’t help but wonder just how much of this book is autobiographical. It is not hard to imagine Dara as the spitting image of the author’s author photo on the jacket cover of the book. It just adds another layer to this many-layered book.
The Gilboa Iris is published by Gefen Publishing House and is available at Steimatzky’s and other major book stores in Israel. The book can also be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at book stores throughout the US.