Book of the month – Khaled Hosseini’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’

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There are some books in this world that no matter how good they are when you are reading them, the plot line fades from your memory a few months later. I’m sure any other book lover can relate to this as the more books you read, the more you have to remember. After all, isn’t this why we read our favourite books more than once? However, there are also books in this world that are so tragic and traumatic that they are near impossible to forget. There are two authors that come to mind when I think of these types of books; Angela Carter and Khaled Hosseini. Today I am going to be talking about the latter as this month after years of being introduced to his world, I finally ventured into more of his novels.

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I don’t think I will ever forget when I first read ‘The Kite Runner’, as although you know something tragic will occur you could never expect what. If memory serves me right, come chapter six the novel takes a very dark and sinister turn, making it one of the most unforgettable novels I have ever read. So when I finally picked up ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, I knew it wasn’t going to be much different.

If any of you have read ‘The Kite Runner’ and are wondering if this novel is traumatic to the same degree; well it’s not. All be it, this is most certainly not a happy story and the tragedy kicks in almost immediately, there is nothing quite so disturbing and sinister as what happens in chapter six of ‘The Kite Runner’. However, death, war, domestic violence and childhood tragedy are still very much key themes.

To give a brief overview, the novel tells the story of two women who had two very different upbringings but were given the same life as adults. Mariam who was an illegitimate child, brings shame to her father and suffering to her mother, which as a result leads her to her death. At just 15, Mariam is sold and married to an older man. Laila, is initially born into a loving family, however the death of her brothers leads her mother into isolation. When her family decides to flee, the war very quickly puts an end to her escape. This event brings Laila into the lives of Mariam and her husband, as she very quickly becomes the second wife. Although the women initially dislike one another, a life long friendship evolves and together the women fight various obstacles to protect themselves and their family.

Hosseini’s simple but striking writing has the ability to deeply effect the reader. Although he deals with very complicated and difficult issues, his writing is very to the point and he doesn’t try and confuse anyone. Although as with every novel there are hidden messages and lessons to be learnt, the reader is always aware of what is going on.

What I love most about Hosseini’s writing is that in a world full of tragedy and suffering, his novel helps the reader to understand the lives of those living in war zones. Although this is a story of family, tragedy and heartache, there is definitely a political lesson to be learnt.

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