Monday, 9 December 2013
Having thoroughly enjoyed Hosseini's former books - The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns - I harboured the suspicion that he could not pull it off again. Oh what little faith I had, 'And The Mountains Echoed' is an excellent book and I am confident that readers will not be disappointed.
Set mainly in Afghanistan, the story starts with a poor farming family, barely able to feed themselves. The father's brother-in-law works for a rich couple who are unable to have children themselves. In exchange for his daughter, they will offer money so that the father is able to feed the rest of his family. He succumbs to this temptation and so starts the interweaving of the different generations and to the finale leading to a family reunion.
Hosseini has the ability keep the reader's attention - although in some ways it might have been helpful to have a `cast list' - but I made my own for fear of losing someone on the way! Both at the beginning and throughout the book the reader is introduced to many different people and it was not always easy to know/remember who they were and how they were related. I do fear that part of this difficulty was created by me - I was so enjoying the book and wanting to know what happened next, that I fear I rushed some sections.
Towards the end of the book, a new character is introduced, the son of a warlord who suddenly realises that the village is frightened of his father and his power rather than admiring him as he built schools and clinics for the local villagers. And his son discovers the truth, his father stole the land and was a drug baron - how could he live with that truth? I would have liked to see this developed - perhaps another book? But it is a moving vignette and deserved a few more pages