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When the Apricots Bloom

By Gina Wilkinson

A BuzzFeed Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Release

A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Books Selection

A Target Book Club Selection


“In Wilkinson’s vivid debut, set in early 2000s Baghdad, secrets and lies mingle as easily as the scent of apricot blossoms and nargilah smoke…Wilkinson weaves in the miasma of fear and distrust that characterized Hussein’s regime with convincing detail. Scenes from Iraqi life—paying for work with food items, or snacking on “counterfeit ‘Keet Katts’”—offers a glimpse into a country crippled by economic sanctions…richly drawn characters and high-stakes plot” – Publishers Weekly


“It is hard to imagine how hard life must have been, although Wilkinson does a marvelous job depicting the fear that all of these characters experienced. Her personal experience in Iraq during the years prior to the Iraq war adds genuine depth to this story and the characters’ lives. Reading this story gave me an appreciation for my life in a free country! It was riveting from beginning to end. I loved the characters and their strength and perseverance. A great read!” – Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette (Fairhope, AL)


“Wilkinson’s atmospheric and suspenseful novel explores the complicated relationships between two

Iraqi women and a diplomat’s wife during Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule. It powerfully illustrates the

peril women faced under his misogynistic, autocratic regime, and the risks, lies and betrayals they had to

commit in order to protect their families. I read this novel with my heart in my throat.” – Lisa Johnson, Penguin Bookshop (Sewickley, PA)


“It is so easy to forget that there are families behind the headlines, and women desperately clinging to

them, willing to risk everything to protect what they hold dear.  The stories of these three women are

each compelling on their own, but when intertwined they become formidable.  The sights and smells of

Iraq are so vivid, casting hope where there seems to be only despair.  This stunning novel has such an

authentic voice it is easy to forget that it is a novel rather than a memoir or history.” – Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library (Flemington, NJ)


“Reading this novel, I felt the warmth of the sun and tasted the sweetness of the lime tea. The

intricately woven relationship between these characters and the expert pacing had me at the edge of

my seat, turning the pages as fast as possible all the while wanting to savor every sentence, and even

going back to reread a particularly beautiful passage.” – Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield’s Books (Healdsburg,




This recommended reading and discussion guide are shared and sponsored in partnership with Kensington.