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I listened to the Audio CD of A Thousand Splendid Suns several months ago now, whilst tackling a huge pile of ironing, and I still often think about this incredibly moving (and often very disturbing) story.
We hear so much about Afghanistan and the Taliban from the point of view of the military service, but this is the story of a deep friendship which evolves between two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, who are living in Kabul when the Taliban first arrive with their ruthlessness and contempt for women. Laila is 15 when she is orphaned and her lover flees the war-stricken country. She feels she has no choice but to marry Rasheed, a cruel and violent man, who already has a wife - the reclusive and childless Mariam, 20 years Laila's senior. Due to their very different upbringings, Laila's success in bearing children and Rasheed's (short-lived) affection for Laila, Mariam deeply resents her husband's new wife at first. However, in a short time, these women, through enduring unbelievable repression, violence and hardship at the hands of their husband and the Taliban, form a powerful friendship and bond, which leads, ultimately, to an act of the greatest self-sacrifice imaginable.
I absolutely loved this Audio Book and I had a lot of well-ironed tea-towels and pillow cases by the end of it! Leoni Atossa narrates beautifully and it was good to hear the pronunciation of the names and places.
This is not a feel-good book. It is shocking and eye-opening and made me actually sob. But I loved it and highly recommend it.
Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith and the salvation to be found in love. Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them - in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul - they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival. A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship and an indestructible love.