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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Khaled Hosseini - And the Mountains Echoed

review by showhost
I loved this authors previous books, the Kite Runner & 1000 Splendid Suns, so when a friend offered me this book to read I couldn't wait!  What makes his books so engrossing is his knowledge of Afghanistan and the story he weaves around it.  The story begins strangely with Saboor telling his children a story.  Then it comes back to the present, Afghanistan 1952.  Saboor and his family (Abdullah his son, Pari his daughter and their step-mother) who all live in Shadbagh.  They struggle to find enough food and to keep warm in the winter.  Abdullah loves his sister Pari - her name means beautiful, sweet fairy - and has become more of a guardian/parent to her since his mother died.  He even swapped a pair of his shoes one day, his only shoes, for a feather for Pari to add to her collection.  they have step siblings and a step uncle called Nabi.  nabi works in Kabul for a wealthy childless couple, chauffering and odd jobs.
One day Saboor tells Abdullah he is taking his sister Pari to Kabul.  Kabul is days away across the desert.  Abdullah will not stay behind he will not leave Pari's side so he joins them on their journey.  It will prove to be a life changing, heartbreaking journey which will change all their lives for ever.  As they say 'sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand'.
The story then takes several paths.  It jumps generations and continents from Afghanistan to Paris to a Greek island to San Francisco.  It follows a little of one persons story in the past then turns to another person in the future. 
I loved the beginning of the book and was waiting for the usual Hosseini magic but I started to get lost after the second half.  I agreed with some of the other reviewers that unless you write a family tree while you are reading it you you will lose track of who is whom.  He seemed to jump too far in the future that it often lost me.  The generation gap meant that I didn't realise that this child was an off-spring of an earlier character.
I have to say that for me, it was not as good as Kite Runner or Thousand Splendid Suns.

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