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Christopher Sullivan (edinburgh)

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The Lowland
The Lowland
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant and mesmerizing, 25 April 2014
This review is from: The Lowland (Paperback)
The Lowland is ponds and paddy fields and what remains of the mangrove swamp that once covered the land before the area of Tollygunge was built on reclaimed land. Reclamation is the fundamental thread that binds the novel together. The reclaiming of one’s life when one has lost control be it through a death, dictatorial cultural conventions, marriage or being a parent.
The novel begins a few years after India’s independence from Great Britain. Tollygunge is located in the southern area of Calcutta, (now referred to as Kolkata), and is home to two brothers, Subhash and the younger by 13 months, Udayan Mitra. The brothers are very close during their childhood and both are high achievers at school and college. However, their personalities are as markedly divergent as the colours of saffron and green on their country’s flag;

“Udayan...was blind to self-constraints, like an animal incapable of perceiving colours. But Subhash strove to minimize his existence, as other animals merged with bark or blades of grass.”

However, their closeness is fractured due to Udayan’s politicization in the aftermath of the Naxalbari uprising in the mid-1960s. His politics are Marxist in colour and through this he makes new friends who are of a similar political hue.
Subhash continues to study and in time leaves India for the state of Rhode Island in America on a fellowship studying Oceanography. Back home in Tollygunge Udayan becomes more deeply involved in his life as a revolutionary and meets a kindred spirit in the shape of Gauri. But Udayan’s revolutionary beliefs belie the reality of his situation;

“Udayan had wanted a revolution, but at home he’d expected to be served; his only contribution to the meals was to sit and wait for Guari or her mother-in-law to put a plate before him.”

Subhash returns to India on the death of his brother and finds a pregnant Gauri living in his parent’s home but being shunned by them. Subhash makes the dramatic and drastic decision to marry his dead brother’s wife, bring the child, Bela, up as his own and return to America with his new family.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel is as large in scale and as brilliant, weighty and mesmerizing as the Koh-i-Noor diamond. Each of the novel’s 406 pages shimmer with delightful prose;

“Once more these colours seemed to have been transported across the world, appearing in the treetops that lined his path. The colours intensified over a period of weeks until the leaves began to dwindle, foliage clustered here and there among the branches, like butterflies feeding at the same source, before falling to the ground.”

It is to the author’s credit that while there is the historical story of India being played out in the novel it is kept in the background and is never forced into the foreground to interrupt the story of Udayan, Gauri and Subhash. Many novels have already used India’s independence (Salman Rushdie’s excellent, Midnight’s Children) and its partition into two states: India and Pakistan (The wonderful Partitions by Amit Majmudar) as hooks as to hang their plots on. Jhumpa Lahiri has intelligently decided to veer away from the obvious and the often ploughed field of allowing a country’s history to drive the plot to the detriment of the novel’s characters.
The characters of Udayan, Gauri and Subhash are beautifully rendered creatures. All three make choices in their lives that are at once selfless and destructive; benign and malignant. These relatable characters will have you the reader going through a gamut of emotions and in particular when Gauri makes a decision that defies all reason, logic and decency. But, we know, though for many chapters we will never admit it, her decision was not only brave but necessary. Importantly the decision was character driven and with hindsight I realised the decision Gauri made was inevitable and I had unconsciously known all along she was going to make that particular decision.
The novel takes us from the late 1940s to the first decade of the 21st century, through the history of India and America. So, using adjectives like sweeping and majestic are inevitable but I make no apology for doing so. The novel’s sweeping nature not only describes its chronological nature but also describes the flow and boundless energy that emanates from each page.
As Sabhash and Gauri grow older they predictable wonder if decisions they made were the correct ones and more importantly if those decisions were possibly less selfless but more selfish. For Subhash, who loves Bela as much as her biological father would have, the strain of wondering if his secret will become known is palpable and heartbreaking.
The Lowland is a novel that deserves the accolade of being on the 2014 shortlist of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and for this reader it would not be a surprise if it won the prize.

First Line – “East of the Tolly Club, after Deshapran Sashmal Road splits in two, there is a small mosque.”

Memorable Line – “Once more the leaves of the trees lost their chlorophyll, replaced by the shades he, (Subhash*), had left behind: vivid hues of cayenne and turmeric and ginger pounded fresh every morning in the kitchen, to season the food his mother prepared.”

*my insertion

Number of Pages - 406
Sex Scenes – yes
Profanity – No
Genre - Fiction

Chess Grandmaster
Chess Grandmaster
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Checkmate, 24 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Chess Grandmaster (App)
This is a great Chess app. It can be played as one player or two player. It has four options: Sound Effects on or off, Rotate board on or off, move clock on or off and 'Think Time' can be set at 5, 10, 15 and 30 minutes. You are able to enter your name and a second player's name. The difficulty level is set by using a sliding scale. The difficulty goes all the way from extremely easy but is a good starting point for those new to the game. The highest difficulty, as you would suspect, feels like the level of a Grandmaster or I am not as good a player as I think I am. This is the best Chess app I have tried.

Notepad for Kindle Fire
Notepad for Kindle Fire
Price: £0.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take note of this., 24 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Notepad for Kindle Fire (App)
I have had this for around a month and as yet I cannot find any fault. Creating notes is very easy and being able to save them into one of many folders is just as easy. A great addition is being able to email your notes quickly and easily. There are two themes to choose from; light or dark. Font size can be changed to, small, medium, large or extra large. There are six font styles; normal, angelina, appleberry, aUdimat, maagkramp and Sebastian. You will find what these styles are by Googling them. So, a very good app and worth having.

The Quick
The Quick
by Lauren Owen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to get your teeth into., 21 April 2014
This review is from: The Quick (Hardcover)
Their mother dead and abandoned by their father brother and sister, Charlotte and James, live at Aiskew Hall, Yorkshire alongside their nanny, housekeeper and several other servants. As children, James and Charlotte Norbury have a pleasant childhood amongst the decaying Aiskew hall estate.
Reaching adulthood James decides to leave for London and attempts to make a living as a poet. He makes the acquaintance of Christopher Paige, a hedonist and gadfly, and together they set up lodgings together. During this time James not only attempts to become a playwright after having seen one of Oscar Wilde’s plays but also becomes Christopher’s lover.
While out walking on the streets of London, Christopher is killed and James is injured by a ‘rogue’ vampire called Michael. Michael has broken a cardinal rule of the vampire club he belongs to, The Aegolius (a club for upper class vampires), a victim must give consent before they are bitten, which James hasn’t done, to becoming one of the undead.
Meanwhile, Charlotte, who has remained at Aiskew Hall with her aunt, becomes concerned by the lack of correspondence and information regarding James’s well being or whereabouts and decides to visit London to find her brother and in so doing becomes embroiled in London’s battleground between vampires and ‘The Quick’ the name given to the living.
It could be argued that mentioning the word vampire is to spoil a supposed twist in the novel but when the publishers themselves write, “for fans of Anne Rice (and) The Historian” then I think that particular cat has been let out of the bag sometime ago.
Before the bloodletting section of the book begins the novels prose regarding Charlotte and James’s childhood mise en scène was delightful. The same could be said of the time when James leaves for London and encounters Christopher Paige. Their relationship is handled commendably and their attraction and subsequent sexual attraction is borne from the development of the characters and not simply tacked on as a piece of salacious prose with the intention of courting controversy. (However, homosexuality in gothic novels is nothing new, Sheridan Le Fanu’s excellent Carmilla being an example).
But, once the vampire element rears its ugly bloodshot-eyed head the novel loses its form. The prose becomes bloated, awkward and is riddled with more clichés than a E.L. James novel. With a genre already bursting at the seams a writer has to bring some fresh blood to the table and this novel fails to do that.
Members of the The Aegolius club (who have a code that states “the club feeds only upon the worst of the society. Those...invariably deserving of their fate”, a la Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan) belong to the upper class and the lower class vampires are referred to as the Alia. Their distaste and distrust of each other nicely echoes fin de siècle Victorian society in London but is nothing new in the gothic/vampire novel and can be seen as far back as Bram Stoker’s Dracula whose subtext is laden with the elements of the class struggle.
One of the main problems of the novel is the indistinguishable ‘voices’ of the many characters. There is very little dialogue that defines each character; too many sound the same and so makes the reading of the novel feel bland and frustrating. Running alongside the poor characterization as a major fault with the novel is the innumerable co-incidences that occur to further the plot and which only result in further disappointing the reader.
The novel is replete with clichéd;

“the flower in his button-hole was green; he looked like someone from a story.”


“She looked like she had been sitting up late, thinking on curious things.”

and the sometimes ridiculously inane descriptions;

“Looking at him, James thought, was being like being hit in the face with a gold bar.”

The author’s description of London is also riddled with clichés and stereotypes;

“Charlotte could hear...shouts, a woman shrieking, raucous laughter. Then a smash of glass. Silence – and then the shouting started again”

This is the description of a scene that appears in numerous murder or horror movies or TV shows set in Victorian London. It is almost an obligatory scene set in movies to allude to how dangerous Victorian London can be. In addition to that most of the lower classes are cockney and read like Dick Van Dyke has written the dialogue and there are the almost ubiquitous diaries and notebooks inserted into the novel to illicit a feeling that the story is based on fact and have almost every Victorian London novelistic stereotype making an appearance.
What started as a strong, well written novel too quickly turns into a clichéd, silly bloated,(two hundred pages too long), novel. This novel is just another brick in the wall of gothic/vampire novels that does nothing to distinguish itself from the rest of the ever-growing wall. It feels like it is attempting to cash in on the myriad of vampire books and TV shows that litter countless bookshop second hand bins and schedules respectively.

First Line – “There were Owls in the nursery when James was a boy.”

Number of Pages – 544
Sex Scenes – Yes
Profanity – None
Genre – Gothic/Horror.

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing
by Eimear McBride
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

52 of 68 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance, 14 April 2014
“For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. Mammy me? Yes you. Bounce the bed, I’d say. I’d say that’s what you did. They lay you down. They cut you round. Wait and hour and day.”

The Microsoft Word document that this review is being written on is resplendent with green wavy lines urging me to rectify the grammatical mistakes in the above paragraph. And when I right click the computer mouse on those words that are underlined it states that what is written is a ‘fragment’. Fragmented is certainly one of the first words that came to this reader’s mind on reading the opening paragraph of this novel and it continues in that fragmented, disconcerting style for all of its 200 pages.
Born to a Catholic mother, the father long gone and her sibling brother still suffering the effects of a childhood brain tumour, the un-named girl leads us through this bildungsroman novel that begins with the protagonist in the womb. Through her life the un-named girl is continually fighting for her mother’s attention and love but is always second best to her ‘martyred’ brother who can do no wrong in his mother’s eyes.
This fragmented novel, which is almost devoid of any punctuation other than the full stop, took six months to write but nine years to find a publisher. This is not surprising as this novel is a difficult read and will certainly scare off the faint-hearted reader who is looking for a more straight-forward style of prose. But, one shouldn’t criticize those readers too heavily as this is a, to put it bluntly, an experimental novel; it is I believe the author’s attempt to redefine the novel.
The novel’s stylized manner reminded me of the ‘cut-up’ technique popularized by William Burroughs in the 1950s and 60s. The incongruous syntax is disconcerting and at times distancing which is ironic as the novel is the internal dialogue of the protagonist and so should make us connect with the girl at an emotional and empathetic level.
The characters of the deeply religious, brimstone and fire Catholic mother and the perverted uncle who has sex with the girl when she is thirteen and continues to do so for years afterward are mundane, hackneyed and redolent of so many ‘Irish Novels’. The plot is wafer thin, the ending obvious and at times I felt that I was reading a novel more suited to the misery lit genre.
I admire the author for writing what is a daring, worthy, brave and admirable novel but those words only connect with the unconventional, style of writing and not the plot and characters. One has to doff their literary hat to the author’s attempt to change the face of the novel, to possibly pushing readers to look differently at the novel in the 21st century. But, this reader sees it only as a novelty act that will only be remembered for a short time and remembered only for its style and not its substance. It will become a book like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and James Joyce’s Ulysses where readers will never admit to the fact that they never finished it.

First Line – “For you.”
Memorable Line – None

Number of Pages - 2003
Sex Scenes – Yes and graphic
Profanity – Yes
Genre - Fiction
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2014 12:08 AM BST


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Motion in progress, 10 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dailymotion (App)
Great app that gives complete access to the Dailymotion site. Easy access to you account and your uploads and favourites. Easy to navigate site search option. The app is accessible and as easy to use as the site is on a computer. I couldn't find any fault with the app.

Price: £0.00

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Branch out with this app., 10 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Twitter (App)
This app is perfect. I have been using this app for about a month and cannot find any faults. It does everything that can be done via a computer. The app also allows a user to do all they wish to do and all they could do via a computer. It updates immediately anything you have tweeted or have been tweeted by others. It's free as well. What more could you want from a Twitter app.

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wake up call?, 6 April 2014
This review is from: Americanah (Paperback)
Americanah tells the story of Ifemelu, an intelligent, strong willed, highly opinionated Nigerian who with her boyfriend, Obinze, grow up with a desire to live in America. They wish to live the American dream: the romanticized view of America they read about in books and see on television programmes like The Cosby Show.
During one of the many strikes at the university, Ifemelu decides to apply to finish her studies in America on a scholarship. Her application is successful and she leaves Nigeria to live with her Aunt Ujo who already lives in the USA having fled Nigeria after her married lover, a high ranking general, is killed in a helicopter crash. Obinze promises to join Ifemelu once he has finished his studies but when he is ready to apply for his visa the world has changed post 9/11 and Obinze’s application fails so he tries his luck as an illegal immigrant in Great Britain.
Where Obinze fails, Ifemelu thrives. After writing an enthusiastically received post on the website, (a website dedicated to natural African hair), Ifemelu starts her own blog to write about her experiences in America and in time it becomes a highly respected and successful blog.
Having spent some thirteen years in America and recently witnessed Barack Obama’s election victory, Ifemelu prepares to return to her home country of Nigeria. As part of that preparation she visits a hair salon in the town of Trenton to have her hair braided in what amounts to a six hour session. It is during her time at the hair salon that the novel is mostly related in flashback.
Americanah is about race, dislocation, and the culture clash of Africa meets Britain and America. Ifemelu and Obinze are not escaping a war zone or a life of deprivation but are instead looking for opportunities that don’t exist in their own country. While living in Great Britain and the USA the couple are made aware of their race, their colour, things that in their own country were not regarded as restrictive or a barrier to opportunities.
While Americanah is a superbly written book and the author has a turn of phrase and descriptive powers that other authors can only dream about it is for me let down by Ifemelu’s personality. Ifemelu’s observations, in particular via her blog, border on polemical, didactic tirades. Ifemelu dislikes and criticises almost everyone around her and her relentless unforgiving diatribes create a weariness in the reader, a battle or compassion fatigue if you will.
Many of Ifemelu’s criticisms and views are at times generalistic, contradictory and at times border on the racist. She refers to Michelle Obama’s children as “beautiful chocolate babes” but then later in the same blog criticizes those who base their views on sweeping assumptions in regard to ‘degrees of blackness’. I don’t believe that Ifemelu would have been happy at a white person using the phrase, “beautiful chocolate babes”.
I found it hard to read Ifemelu’s view that other racial groups that suffer from prejudices don’t matter as much because they are white or at the least nearer to being white.

“Dear American non-Black, if an American Black person is telling you about an experience about being black, please do not eagerly bring up examples from your own life...Don’t say it’s just like anti-Semitism. It’s not. In the hatred of Jews, there is also the possibility of envy – they are so clever, these Jews, they control everything, these Jews – and one must concede that a certain respect, however grudging, accompanies envy.”

Yes, I’m sure the Nazis were full of respect and envy as they murdered, tortured, gassed and experimented on six million Jews.
Americanah dissects with scalpel like precision, the American and British view of race, colour and the differences of being an African in American against being an African-American. The author holds up the proverbial mirror to America and Britain and forces those countries to re-evaluate their thinking, politics and views on the subject of race and colour. Unfortunately, those who should read this book to re-evaluate their opinions, won’t, if for no other reason than it is written by a black women.
However, with the novels harsh, unrelenting negativity the reader can begin to feel punch-drunk. Couple this with the book being about 100 pages too long and its obvious and predictable ending the novel falls sadly short of being the classic it could so easily have been.

First Line – “Princeton in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops and the quiet , abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly.”

Memorable Line – “I’ve meet a lot of people here with white mothers and they are all so full of issues, eh. I didn’t know I was even supposed to have issues until I came to America. Honestly, if anybody wants to raise bi-racial kids, do it in Nigeria.”

Number of Pages – 477
Sex Scenes – None
Profanity – None
Genre – Fiction.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2015 3:41 PM GMT

The Quarry
The Quarry
by Iain Banks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A fitting epitaph, 31 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Quarry (Paperback)
A group of friends, who all met at university some twenty years earlier, gather for a weekend at the house of Guy, who is dying of cancer. Guy's eighteen year old son and carer, Kit suffers (or thrives depending on your interpretation of his character), from some unspecified Asperger's like condition which has him creeping into people's rooms to measure their height or to walk around the garden and the surrounding area of his house in 457 steps which happens to be a prime number.
The university friends reassess their lives and wonder if they have achieved all they planned to do while at university studying film and media. In between this naval gazing one of their main topics of discussion is an embarrassing and possibly compromising videotape that is situated somewhere within the rambling box filled house of Guy. The tape needs to be found and destroyed or careers may suffer irrevocably.
As Kit acts as host to Guy's friends, who are all known to Kit, he wonders who his mother is as Guy himself has no idea and Kit as a baby was left on Guy's doorstep with no indication as to who she was.
The Scottish writer Iain Banks died on the 9th June 2013 due to inoperable cancer. This novel was to be his last and was published eleven days after his death.
The novel is written in the first person narrative through the eyes and ears of the obsessively pedantic and socially inept Kit who needs to be taught the ways of polite social intercourse by Hol, one of Guy's university friends.
Guy's university friends are all an unlikable, cocaine sniffing, alcohol binging self-obsessed group of forty- somethings. They spout their left-wing socialist ideologies but are incapable of seeing that the lives they live, the people they have become, is diametrically opposed to the beliefs they still tried to hold on to. They are all apologists for a generation who failed to change or better the world in a way they had hoped and ultimately become part of the establishment they had ranted against in their youth.
Thankfully, these rather ugly characters are a sideshow to the two wonderfully crafted characters of the acerbic and misanthropic Guy and his obsessive computer gamer son Kit. Guy's caustic rants against a world that for all intents and purposes appears to have turned against him are insightful and amusing in equal measure. Guy's angry rants about his approaching death will echo those of readers of a certain age even those not dying of cancer.

"I hate the thought of the world and all the people in it just going merrily on without me after I'm gone. How ******* dare they? ...I'm getting short-changed here and it's not even as though any other bugger is going to benefit from the time I'm losing. Just lose-*******-lose, all round."

The house echoes Guy's body as it cracks, crumbles and becomes dilapidated, a ghost of its former self. The quarry of the title is situated at the back of the house and its deep chasm grows closer as its edge crumbles and subsides while the machinery in the quarry shakes and rattles the house like some unseen monster making the owners aware of its ever approaching presence. The quarry owners are looking to expand their business and in so doing are looking to buy Guy's property which in turn will be consumed by the growing hole that houses the bones of sheep that have inadvertently fell into the quarry's abyss.
With a country that obsesses about cancer and the bravery of those who die from it, Guy/Iain `bravely' point out what many of us think but are scared to say due to what would be an inevitable backlash.

"...when you do lose your brave ******* battle - because it always has to be a brave ******* battle, doesn't it? You're never allowed to have a cowardly battle or just a resigned one; that'd be letting the ******* side down, that would... Anyway they can secretly think, well, ****** didn't think positively enough, obviously. If that had been me, I'd have thought so positively I'd have been fine; I'd be fit as a ******* fiddle by now and out publishing my number one best-seller How I beat the Big C."

Kit's Aspergers/Autistic character is nothing new in fiction as there seems not a month goes by without a book about the main character suffering from some psychological or mentally defining ailment. But, Kit as narrator is excellent in his view of the house's ensemble and his growing concern about his father's imminent death and his need to find his other parent so that he won't feel so alone in the world or at the least hopes that his mother will fill a void in his life. The quarry also becomes an obsession as he routinely walks along its edge looking over the edge into its cavernous mouth.
This void is filled by Kit's love/obsession with the online MMORPG called Herospace. In that world he can be his true self with its defined and clear rules. The game is more vivid than real life and allows him to do things that would be classed as dangerous or unavailable in the real world. With Kit's world revolving around events like wiping his father's backside while Guy venomously telling Kit he should have left him on the doorstep it is easy to see why Kit prefers the virtual world.
Kit `s observations of the six house guests are at times funny, perceptive and he appears to have a better understanding of them as they do of themselves.
The Quarry is a finely written epitaph to what has been an illustrious career. The novel will be read by many with sadness as one approaches the final page with the knowledge that there will be no further novels from the hand of Iain Banks.

Number of Pages - 336

Sex Scenes - No

Profanity - Yes

First Line - "Most people are insecure, and with good reason. Not me."

Memorable Line - (talking about traffic jams) - "...and it took me a while before I realised that they might stand as a symbol for life in general; trivial actions leading to proliferating consequences that affect hundreds of others, but which we never know about."

Supplied by Netgalley for an unbiased and honest review.

The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon
The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon
by Fatima Bhutto
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite satisfying, 25 Mar. 2014
In the fictionalized version of the city of Mir Ali in Pakistan, which lies close to the border with Afghanistan, three brothers are having breakfast on what is one of the most important festival days in the Muslim calendar, Eid.
One of the brothers Aman Erum, recently returned from studying in America. Sikandar has recently lost his son in an attack on the hospital where he works. His wife Mina who was a lecturer in the department of psychology at the same hospital, has disengaged herself from her previous life and now attends the funerals of strangers in an attempt to `find' her son.
The youngest brother, Hayat, is fighting a long running war to have Mir Ali separated from Pakistani and become part of Afghanistan.
After the brothers have finished breakfast they will part ways and make decisions that may affect each other lives forever.
The novel is set during one morning during the hours of 9am and noon. However, the novel moves from that morning to the past as we find out what lead the three brothers and their families to this point of time and the decisions they feel they have to make.
Though the triumvirate of brothers are initially to be read as the main characters of the novel it becomes apparent as the novel enters its middle section that in fact the two main protagonists are two women; Mina the wife of Sikandar and Samarra who fights alongside Hayat and has a relationship with him and his brother Aman Erum. Mina's pain and anguish at the death of her son, Zalan is so well crafted, so palpable that the reader feels compelled to look away from the page sensing the character Mina, will turn on us the reader for intruding in her suffering.
Samarra is the epitome of the new Pakistan woman. Samarra is no longer willing to be a slave to men or a background player in her country's future. Her childhood has been played out against 9/11, Pakistan's war against insurgency, Pakistan's willingness to open its airspace to the USA and towns like Mir Ali being bombed by drones. All these and other events in her life have inextricably bound her to this fateful morning. The author has created Samarra using words as the veins and arteries and the pages as bone and her story as Samarra's skin. Samarra has been lovingly drawn and born of the author's emotions.
However, the same cannot be said of two of the three brothers; Hayat and Sikandar. While Aman Eram is a fully rounded character I felt by the end of the book that Hayat and Sakinder were as unknown to me as they were on page one. The two brother's identities become smothered by their strong well written female counterparts. Hayat's need to become a fighter with the Mir Ali underground is never fully explained and what is related is far from satisfactory.
At times the book read like a polemical diatribe with the author, niece of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, riding her high horse for all its worth. Samarra and Hayat are looked upon as heroic with the author leaving us in no doubt in that what they are doing is right. But the question should have been asked if Samarra and Hayat are terrorists or freedom fighters. We all know the cliché `one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter', ( Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, Michael Collins to name but a few), but this concept is never explored and had it been then it would have helped make this novel a more satisfactory read.

Number of Pages - 231

Sex Scenes - None

Profanity - None

Genre - Fiction.

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