Author: Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini, in my opinion, is a brilliant writer! This is the second book of his that I read, the first being Kite Runner, and I enjoyed it thoroughly! It was one of the few books that I just couldn’t resist finishing. However, I do have one negative to say about it and that is the excessive torture portrayed against wives. I just can’t bear to see women being tortured, there’s something unbearable about it – maybe because I share the gender I can feel the pain. Some people would argue that it’s the reality but my argument is: maybe, not always you would like to hear the reality – stark naked! All I can say is that though it upset me at times, it didn’t deter me from reading it fully.
Coming to the story, it’s set in the background of troubled Afghanistan with political unrest and centers around Mariam. Mariam was born an illegitimate child and lived with her mother. Her mother, who had endured a lot, was bitter in life and that was often manifested in her behavior towards her daughter – that is not to underestimate her love for her. Kids being kids, Mariam was more fond of her father who would visit her once a week, never accept her in public and try to get rid of his guilt by sweet-talking her and getting her gifts. When Mariam left her Mother to stay with her father, she neither gained her father nor got her mother back. Forced by circumstances, she was married at the age of 15 to a 40-year old and sent off to Afghanistan from Iran. Her mother’s statement “a woman endures” stuck with her for life and her journey all alone in a new land is complete with crests and troughs.
The characters in this book are very well-sketched and I think that’s what makes a great writer! I felt bad for Mariam that she was sad with her mother and after leaving her too and that got me wondering: would we say she was destined to misfortune? Or is it that the misfortune that befell her was of her own doing – had she not left her mother none of it would’ve happened? Food for thought…
Bottomline: 4.5 stars