The nine stories in Ahdaf Soueif’s I Think of You detail the struggles and disappointments of various displaced female narrators. These stories of cultural conflict and familial tension showcase the author’s ability to effortlessly draw readers into the complicated psyches of her characters. The two opening pieces are the strongest in the collection and tell the story of Aisha, a school-aged Egyptian whose family moves to London in the early 1960s. Richly detailed, they offer compelling glimpses into the mind of a child that feel familiar but never precious.
After a promising start, however, the collection quickly stagnates. The ensuing stories present passive narrators who must navigate disparate cultures and who lament soured relationships. As the book progresses, the author fails to move readers beyond basic themes and as her narrators become less sympathetic, the stories start to feel stale. Simply put, Soueif’s beautiful prose is not enough to compensate for this collection’s lack of breadth and momentum.