…by Khaled Hosseini.
A story about the hardships women face in their day-to-day life in Afghanistan.
The plot begins with Mariam, an illegitimate daughter of an wealthy man, who lives with her mother. Mariam looks forward to that day of the week when her father visits her. Despite her Mother’s warning telling her not to trust her father too much or not to get too attached with him, Mariam can’t help love her father as much as she does…only to see his true colors when her mother dies and she (Mariam) is off to live with her father for a while. Her father’s other wives decide that they can’t keep the illegitimate daughter around the house for a long time, so they plan to marry her off to Rasheed, a man old enough to be her father. Mariam begs and pleads with her father to speak up and not this happen to her only to see him turn his back to her and walk away without uttering a word. Shattered to the core, Mariam starts a new life with Rasheed in an alien city.
While Mariam is settling in her rather unhappy marriage, a neighbor of her’s has a daughter, Laila. Laila grows to be a beautiful girl and develops a liking towards her best friend Tariq. Unfortunately, life isn’t always rosy, she experiences. Her enthusiasm, love for life, cheerfulness is all broken during the political battles in the province. Laila and Tariq part. Laila loses her family in a bombing. Her life falls apart and right then, Rasheed comes to her rescue. He gives her a place to live when she’s lost everyone she has ever loved. But everything comes with a price, she realizes, when Rasheed tells her that she has to marry him in order to stay in his house.
How does Laila respond? And why? How does Mariam react to Rasheed’s wedlock proposal to Laila? What happens to Tariq? Does Mariam ever meet her father again? What happens next?
There’s a lot more to the story than what I’ve mentioned here…just that I don’t want to give out too much details.
This tale about the lives of Mariam and Laila took me through an emotional ride – feeling hurt when Mariam was heart-broken because of her father, crying for Laila when she loses her family, wanting to hit Rasheed for all his inexcusable acts, sharing Mariam and Laila’s pain, feeling for them for all the sacrifices they make at each and every point of life. A classic novel that is a must read. Love and hate, hope and despair, life and death, gain and loss…all that put together as a well woven story…it will make you smile and it will make you cry.
This novel made me feel petty for whatever I crib about my routine. Sitting here with all the luxuries I can imagine, I still have so much to complain about…but this books took me into two women’s life that I can’t even imagine living. This story sheds light on so many big issues women face in their everyday life…it made me feel so grateful for and appreciative of everything that I have today.
The author’s writing makes you emotionally connect with the women and vividly experience their ache. His words provide for rich visualization and bring out intense feelings. He focuses and builds well on the characters and the plot. The flow in his writing is flawless and the way he describes the history and geography of the country is note-worthy. He narrates in a very engaging manner.
So, overall, this one of the very best, poignant novels I have ever read. And Hosseini is one of my favorite authors. I highly highly recommend this book.
My rating: 5*.
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