This is the second book in the Cairo Trilogy. After I read the first book in 2011, I planned to read the next books in 2012 - obviously that didn't happen, but I prioritized this book and finally cleared it from my shelf.
This volume is set about 8 years after the end of the first book, and shows the slow movement of social change in Cairo in the early 20th century. Where the first book was more about intrafamily relationships, this book was more about the same family's external relationships, including the romantic relationships of the male members of the family, and how these relationships effect the family itself.
One thing I found interesting was that the sons of al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad seemed doomed to repeat his patterns, as if they were compelled to do so, even though they didn't necessarily know much about his life outside their family home. However, the women of the sons' generation seemed to be trying to make small efforts to break out of the established societal strictures, behavioral norms, and patterns. Ultimately this was a personal book that is also about larger subjects. I am hoping to get to the final book soon.