Last night, on the eve of the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction’s winner’s announcement, I managed to finish the final of the six shortlisted books; Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone. When the shortlist was first announced back in April, the weeks ahead seemed like ample time to read the six contenders for the prize, but alas I found myself beginning Shamsie’s novel on Sunday evening and spending every spare moment I had desperately trying to finish it before tonight’s winner’s ceremony.
The novel opens in summer 1914 and follows Viv Spencer who travels to Peshawar at the time of the First World War, where she discovers the ancient history of Southern Turkey and falls in love with her mentor and family friend on an archaeological dig. When war flares up Viv returns to England to work as a nurse but still she dreams of pursuing her career as an archaeologist. What follows is an evocative tale fusing history and passion, conflict and friendship; that is as absorbing as it is thought-provoking.
Unlike other novels set around the time of WW1, A God in Every Stone looks at the impact and aftermath of the war beyond European territories – specifically at British-ruled India – giving readers an alternative perspective to history as we know it. No doubt a strong contender for tonight’s prize, there are just a matter of hours left before we find out which of the shortlisted authors will take the 2015 crown.