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The Holy Woman [Kindle Edition]

Qaisra Shahraz
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A romantic story of love and betrayal set in a wealthy Muslim community, with all the pressures and conflicts that modern life and old traditions bring.


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Review

"A lean, lyrical meditation on tradition and independence, sensuality and sacrifice, set against the mortal background of modern day Pakistan, Shahraz's debut beguiles throughout." -The Times"Stunning debut novel. An intricate study of love, family, politics and sacrifice." - Eastern Eye'Qaisra Shahraz has a real story-telling gift ...' - Sue Gee'...very moving tale of love, passion and Islamic traditions...difficult to put down...compelling read' - BBC National Asian Network'...a remarkable new novel' - Asian News'A dramatic story of family intrigue, religious passions and riproaring romance' - Michele Roberts'Intriguing tale of love, envy and jealousy ... Compulsive reading... Must not be missed ... A definite hit ...' - Asian Times

About the Author

Qaisra Shahraz was born in Pakistan and grew up in England. She read English and Classical Civilizations at the University of Manchester. Later, she gained two Masters Degrees in European Literature and Scriptwriting from Salford University. Qaisra is an award winning short fiction writer and has written extensively for magazines and newspapers as well as a number of television scripts and drama serials. Her acclaimed fourteen-episode drama serial 'Dil Hee to Hai' has been produced in Pakistan and shown around the world. In her other career, she is a lecturer, trainer, and College Inspector for OfSTED and the Adult Learning Inspectorate. Qaisra lives in Manchester with her family. Typhoon is her second novel, and a sequel to The Holy Woman. She is currently working on her third book.

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More About the Author

Qaisra Shahraz

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Qaisra Shahraz is a prize-winning and critically acclaimed novelist and scriptwriter. Born in Pakistan, she has lived in Manchester (UK) since childhood and gained two Masters Degrees in English and European literature and scriptwriting. Being a highly successful and achieving woman on an international scale, Qaisra was recognised as being one of 100 influential Pakistani women in Pakistan Power 100 List (2012). Previously she was nominated for the Asian Women of Achievement Awards and for the Muslim News Awards for Excellence.

Her novels, The Holy Woman and Typhoon, are translated into several languages. The Holy Woman (2001) won the Golden Jubilee Award, was the 'Best Book of the Month' for Waterstones and has become a bestseller in Indonesia and Turkey. She has appeared in many international writers' festivals and book fairs including in Abu Dhabi, Jaipur and Beijing. Her award-winning drama serial Dil Hee To Hai was broadcast on Pakistani Television in 2003. Qaisra has recently completed a third novel Revolt, two volumes of short stories: A Pair of Jeans and Train to Krakow; she is now working on her fourth novel The Henna Painter. Several of her prize-winning short stories are published in the UK and abroad. Her work is being studied in schools and Universities. A critical analysis of her works has been done in a book entitled The Holy and the Unholy: Critical Essays on Qaisra Shahraz's Fiction (2011. Qaisra Shahraz has another successful career in education, as a consultant, teacher trainer and inspector.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Holy Woman 6 Oct. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
To be honest I just didn't get it. The characters were OK, the writing was OK but I didn't know what I was supposed to get out of the experience of reading this book. I expected to feel some initial outrage at the role into which the central character is forced by the men in her family, but I continued to feel outraged at her supine acceptance of her role & subsequent justification of what has been done to her & is expected of her "for honour". The book gave me no greater understanding of Islam as a whole or of the particular character's individual interpretations. I found the ending unbelievable & as disempowering of the central character as the ultimatum given to her in the first place. I can only be happy that I have never had to consider the honour of anyone except myself when deciding how I should act or dress & that I have never had to temper what I had to say because I was addressing a man. My only lesson from this is that if women remain silent & obedient the world will never change for the better.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winner! - The Universality of Human Experience 11 Jan. 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Holy Woman is very much a novel that spans countries and continents, unravelling cultures and human emotions, penetrating the feudal psyche to elicit responses to all that baffles outsiders.
Shahraz’ story starts off with romance in the air. Zarri Bano, university educated, rich, beautiful, modern to the core of her coloured nails. In comes Sikandar, the dashing city bred hero of romantic dreams. It was to be a marriage made in heaven, save the jealousy of the heroine's father. Zarri Bano’s only brother dies in a riding accident and her marriage is called off as she is destined to become the ‘holy woman’, to be denied a husband, children, love, everything that would go to make the book a nice juicy romance ending in a 'lived happily ever after scenario’. Thereafter it was the commonality, the universality of human experience that she sought to unfurl.
Shahraz’s courage of conviction is infectious. Where Zarri Bano the main protagonist of a romantic horror is beautiful, glamorous and a feminist at that, forcefully agrees to succumb to feudal tradition she also emerges as the winner. It is this journey from a pure romantic to the prototype of the Muslim woman whose actions have a reasoning methodology that makes for the substance of The holy woman.
She reconstructs the original Islamic sensibility, freeing it from traditional patriarchy. So on the one hand is a heroine who admits to being, like her female peers, “a bead in a tapestry that our fathers and elders weave”. At the other end of the spectrum she emerges as the final victor capable of retaliating with conviction to the inquisitive English journalist's empathy. “Don't you feel oppressed by this (veil)?” Zarri Bano answers back, “We are not freaks. We are women who like to dress modestly. Please treat us with respect.”
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Holy Woman 4 Dec. 2004
Format:Paperback
This is book is definately one of THE most riveting books ive ever read. i could not put it down and became so involved in Zarri Bano's character and life that i truly felt for her and what she was going through. i was very sad when the book ended and could have carried on reading much more about her life.i thoroughly recommend, and constantly do recommend this book to my all i know, as Ms Shahraz's talent for writing and creating will pull anyone right into Zarri Bano's world and hold you spellbound there with a genuine wish and need to know more. And once that need is there the next natural step is to read Typhoon, the next gripping tale from Ms Shahraz.Go On!!! Have read!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story of love, honour, duty and feminism 16 Sept. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Every now and then, a book comes along that you can't get out of your head, and once you finish it you need a few book free days to take it all in. This is one such book for me. It transports you into the colourful, exotic world of modern day Pakistan, where ancient customs and traditions are thrown into the blender with encroachments from the Western world. Our heroine, Zarri-Bano is enchanting. Privileged, indulged, highly educated, intelligent, stunningly beautiful, she seems to have it all. In a society where marriages are normally arranged by the parents, she refuses suitor after suitor, finding no man who can meet her high expectations of a husband. Initially there seems to be much condemnation of this patriarchal society, and I feared this would turn out to be little more than a feminist rant against Islam, but it developed into so much more.
When tragedy strikes her wealthy family, Zarri-Bano's life is turned suddenly upside down, as she is obliged by the duty she feels towards her father to obey his will, and adopt a life of religious devotion. This sassy, feisty, modern woman turns her back on the man she has fallen in love with, pulls a Burqa over her head, and immerses herself completely in the ancient role of 'holy woman'. The story charts her struggle to come to terms with the new life she has chosen to lead, and the effect this has on the men who decreed it, and her mother, who abhors it, but feels powerless to resist.
The characters are without exception 3 dimensional and full of life. Both the men and the women are flawed, and we see them all at their worst and at their best. The strong sense of honour and duty that rules their lives is fascinating, as is the important ideal of female modesty, which is totally alien to us in 21st century Britain.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
A fascinating insight into family life and traditions in Pakistan.
Published 9 hours ago by Mrs C Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
its a really good read and told me a lot about life in Parkistan
Published 3 days ago by SuperM
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Soooooo! Good I loved this book best book I've read for a long time
Published 9 days ago by Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Very brilliant story, that you couldn't wait to unfold
Brilliant story that compelled you to read on. A story that allows learning the constraints of religion, duty and oneself.
Published 20 days ago by Rachael Hansen
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent read, I was totally absorbed in it
Published 1 month ago by Janet Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
What I love about this author is the drawing of strong female characters in a culture where we as westerners falsly conclude women are invisible. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bagpuss
1.0 out of 5 stars Holy Cr*p!
Argh..... this book was so annoying. She loves him, he says no, he loves her, she says no.... on and on and on - and not only with one couple. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dalrannoch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Ver good read
Published 3 months ago by Mrs Vera McCormick
1.0 out of 5 stars Good grief!!!
I have read other books by this writer that were excellent. This is truly awful. Unbelievable plot and characters. Drivel
Published 3 months ago by HDM
3.0 out of 5 stars It has some good characters and an intriguing storyline but I found...
Although this book has the added interest of being set in a completely different culture it is essentially chick lit. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Campbell
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