“Like a compass needle that points North, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”
After reading another of Hosseini’s works ‘The Kite Runner’, I was very excited to read this book and it was even more enticing than I expected. The novel is split into multiple parts, these parts alternate between the two perspectives of Mariam and Laila, of whom both struggle as a woman in Afghanistan during the conflict of the Taliban. The first part of the book focuses on Mariam’s childhood growing up as an illegitimate child of a wealthy businessman, she lives with her mother ‘Nana’ however after Mariam’s search for her father, Nana commits suicide. Mariam carries this guilt throughout the book, and her mother’s death was the start of the unfortunate events during her lifetime. The way in which she is treated at her father’s house is very interesting, the wives treat her as somewhat of a dirty creature, they show little sympathy for her grief and then hastily ship her off to be married. This is likely because they do not want their reputation to be compromised by the presence of Mariam, and like many families in Afghanistan at the time and even now, they will strive to great lengths to save face. The heartbreaking love story between Laila and Tariq is so moving and powerful, entwined with the horror that is Laila’s marriage, her entire life and background is incredibly real, making us as readers, fall into the thought that we are reading the story of a real person, rather than a literary character. As a female myself, I relate strongly to Laila and this book really made me feel quite appreciative of those around me, after all, there are a lot of girls around the world of whom find themselves in similar situations to Laila and I’m lucky to have the life I do. The quote ‘a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman’ particularly interests me, whilst presenting the reality that Afghan men often blame women for wrong doings and faults, it also represents the social hierarchy of women being of much lower status than men. Therefore, the accusing word of a man would almost always be accepted over that of a woman, regardless of the situation or accusation displayed. Overall, I really loved this book, Hosseini writes in a completely unique literary style and makes us as readers, feel utterly compelled to read more.