Genre: War, Historical Fiction
Narrative Style: Third Person from the point of view of two women
Synopsis: Mariam is fifteen years old when she is married off by her father to the much older, Rasheed. Laila is born to a different generation but also finds herself married to Rasheed, The women form a bond that helps them to survive not only the horrors of their marriage but the war and oppression all around them.
Reading Challenges: TBR Challenge
Time on Shelf: About five years. I suspected that this might be a bit of a bleak read and so put off reading it.
This is a compelling book. The story of Afghanistan from the seventies until the present day told through the eyes of two women trapped by war and marriage. The history was something I was sort of familiar with – it became more familiar as it came closer to the present day – but nothing prepared me for reading about the horror of life for actual citizens.
Hosseini creates a vivid picture of the various stages of war and the various enemies. He shows how men like Rasheed used the rise of the Taliban and the oppression of women to commit their own personal atrocities. Rasheed was already determined to control the women he was married to – it must have seemed like a gift from heaven that women were not even allowed out without a male escort. He was a brutal man and the regime legitimised his brutality and meant that Mariam and Laila had no escape.
Both women as portrayed convincingly as they battle against the many hardships the war throws at them. I’m not sure I was 100% convinced by Mariam’s eventual self sacrifice but maybe it was only because I wanted it to be otherwise. I wanted her to be able to share in the future with Laila and Tariq.
This is a bleak story and it was such a relief at the end that things did start to pick up for Laila and her family. I’m not sure I could have coped with much more heartache. As with the best of fiction, this gave me insight into a situation that I didn’t know much about and has encouraged me to read more about this subject.