The reader becomes aquainted with the interior lives of several Arab women in London. One of them seems a cross between a call girl and a con artist, another is recently divorced from a man she was pressured into marrying in her original country, and she feels that now, at last, she is free to find out what it really is like (for people not hampered by being Arab wives) to live in England. (Oh, I forgot to mention the man who helped someone else smuggle a monkey into England and then couldn't get rid of it.) There are some fascinating insights into the thinking of people of Arab culture, and no matter who they are, the author handles them with sympathy and humor.
Hanan al-Shaykh was born and raised in Lebanon and currently lives in London with her husband and children. She has written three other novels.
From the cover: "As the story follows their adventures--some comic, some pathetic--each character finds a different London...Al-Shaykh now lives in London and has acquired a sensitive understanding of the half-and-half world she describes. Her novel is funny and beautifully written. [She] has a perfect ear for dialogue and tone." I'll second that.