Like many of my favourite authors, Khaled Hosseini has a way of writing amazingly gripping stories, that are set in far off places and mixes in some history too. I have read his other two books, ‘And the Mountains echoed’ and ‘The Kite Runner’ and this one is equally heart-breaking and brilliant. I admit I do not know much about Afghanistan or it’s history, but his books give you a thankfully non-rose tinted glasses view of the country and it’s people.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is based on the lives of two women living in Kabul, Afghanistan throughout the 1960s to the modern day. Mariam is an illegitimate village girl who is desperate to gain the approval of her wealthy father, but is ultimately rejected by him in shame. When her mother dies, he marries her to his friend Rasheed against her wishes. Mariam is abused and forced into submission, and suffers several miscarriages, making her depressed and also despised by Rasheed.
In the same neighbourhood, the beautiful and intelligent Laila is born and grows up in the relative freedom of Soviet controlled Afghanistan with her best friend Tariq. However, as war engulfs Kabul, the two are separated and tragic circumstances forces Laila into marriage with Rasheed. The two women make unlikely friends and bond over their love for Laila’s children, and fear of their husband. As Kabul crumbles around them, the two are forced to make heart-breaking decisions to ensure their survival.
I cried at least three times reading this, and read it all in one go- I just couldn’t put it down! I got so into the two women’s stories and their struggles against the world they live in, willing them on to escape their marriages and the sexism they faced. There is a happy ending of sorts, with Laila eventually reunited with Tariq and escaping her life with Rasheed. Khaled Hosseini is an amazing writer and I would 100% recommend his books, they are honestly amazing.