A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Housseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Housseini

Bloomsbury 2007

Synopisis (taken from back of book):  “A Thousand Splendid Suns is an unforgettable portrait of a wounded country and a deeply moving story of family friendship. It is a beautiful, heart wrenching story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely bond and an indestructable love.”

Review: This is a fantastic, heartbreaking, moving and informative story of life in Afghanistan from the mid 1900s up to the present and includes the effects of the Taliban rule, epsecially on the streets of Kabul.

I fear my review will not do this book the justice it deserves. The story centres on a young girl called Mariam who starts life in rural Afghanistan living with her mother, who was one of her father’s ‘accidental conquests’ and consequently rejected from his family. As a teenager, Mariam’s desire to get to know her father triggers tragedy and before she knows it she is being sent to the city of Kabul and forced into an arranged marriage with a man thirty years her senior. She is young, naive and vulnerable and we learn about the strict regimes of the Islamic religion along with the build up to the Taliban rule.

Two decades later Mariam and her husband take in fifteen year old Laila, no stranger to tragedy herself, homeless, orphaned and heartbroken. Laila and Mariam have a shaky start to thier relationship but over time become as close as mother and daughter. They are living through wartime in Kabul, in a tiny poky house as wives of an old man they both grow to despise for differing reasons. “Life is a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear,” but thier strength of bond enables them to triumph over this. It does however involve sacrifices and danger.

This book taught me a lot about ‘the other side’ of the war in Afghanistan, how it is for the residents of Kabul. I also learned about the Islamic religion and thier beliefs and realised just how naive I myself am about other cultures. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complicated read – being eight months pregnant and with a toddler I am am hardly fit for heavy going reads at the moment (!). Housseini writes clearly enough to make his work not complicated.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is hard to put down and not easily forgotten. I cannot emphasise enough how well written it is and how much I would recommend it.

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