Holding the towel by her side, she opened her eyes. The mirror in front of her was clouded in steam and for a moment she could not bring herself to wipe it clear. When she did, she revealed herself in parts, as if introducing herself to this different person. It was only when she surveyed her body that she saw the truth, even though it had already given her warning of what to expect. Her upper arms were blotched and blue and there was an ugly wheal across her right breast. Her hands were shaking and she steadied herself on the edge of the basin, knowing that worse was to come.
What makes Habiba Popals steal a painting from the National Gallery?
Habiba Popals, tall, distinguished and rebellious, is from frontier country: Tooting Bec, the uncompromising suburb of south London. Latif Popals, her father, old fashioned, disdainful, is also from frontier country: The North West Frontier of Pakistan. Between the two frontiers there is severe conflict. When Latif Popals, against his better judgement, allows his teenage daughter to go on a summer art course at the National Gallery, he sets in motion a series of events that he could never imagine.
Into the life of Habiba Popals comes Giacomo Baldini, formerly of the Uffizi in Florence, who takes over as head of security at the National Gallery. Bound by his own codes of honour and family, in tracking down Habiba Popals he meets a woman whose amazing story he instinctively understands and which poses him a choice between duty and love.
Bad Marriage is a riveting story of sexual violence and the loss of innocence, the collision of two cultures and the curious alchemy of love.