Author of critically acclaimed debut The Kite Runner brings us this heart-wrenching gem; A Thousand Splendid Suns published originally in 2007 by Bloomsbury Publishing. Set in Afghanistan and spanning a period of almost thirty years during the time of Soviet occupation up until Taliban rule, this tragic tale recounts the deeply moving lives of Mariam and Laila. The Mother-daughter dynamic that buds between them is irresistible and serves to give a greater attention to the undeniable sufferings of like women and children who live in Afghanistan.
From the outset, it is to be noted that the only reasonable shortcoming I have with this book is that I had not read it sooner and on that front, it is only just that I rate A Thousand Splendid Suns…
I’ve finally given my first 5 Star Rating!! 😆😆😆🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉
Hopefully there are many more 5 Star Ratings to follow. But for now, it’s on with this review!
Mariam is a young vulnerable girl conceived from the humble beginnings of illegitimacy. She is forced to marry Rasheed, a man twenty-five years her senior, at only fifteen years of age. Many years later, Laila, whose upbringing was very much unlike Mariam’s in that, she was educated and daughter of a man who wholly advocated women’s rights, is also forced into marriage with Mariam’s husband. The two form an unbreakable bond that carries them through even the most dire of situations.
The writing style is flawless with imagery that is both scenic and vibrant. I loved reading his descriptions of Herat when Mariam first ventured there. It was truly painted as a city of Romanticism. The pacing of the novel is a delight as it really manifests the growth and journey of each character, despite the many time jumps that ensue. The development of particularly Mariam and Laila, is such that the reader feels a bond with the character as though they had been lifelong friends. Each injustice they face is thus deeply heart-rending.
This book, written in two parts over a period of almost thirty years, is extremely hard to put down. It was truly a roller coaster of emotions from the outset, and the ending is so powerful that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days after I had completed the book. I absolutely love that this book gives a voice to one of the most repressed groups in Afghanistan, that of women who bear the most unfathomable trials with endurance.
The story of Mariam and Laila is told in tandem with the political events that unfold around them throughout the course of the novel, but the politics never overshadows thieir story. Rather, the political aspect is told in a way that is relevant to their struggles.
This novel is raw, yet beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’m so glad this novel exists as it gives much needed insight into the oppression of women, the vulnerability of children and the disorientation of refugees not just in Afghanistan, but everywhere.
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