I picked up the book in February after reading a review by Marje. However, I got down to reading the book only now after a month of NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). If I were to give the review in one line, I would say , ‘No More Mulberries,’ by Mary Smith is a worthy read that takes you to the heart of Afghanistan with a story that tugs the heart strings.
About the book
The author successfully captures the heart and soul of this war-torn nation and the daily lives of the people there- of whom one mostly reads about in the papers or sees in a documentary or on magazine covers- stained rosy cheeks, wide, glassy eyes that stare with an expression hard to decipher – pictures showing a damaged nation of beautiful people.
The language, details, description and sprinkling of Dari and Pashto in the book makes the story a delicious read- you can literally taste the warm naan, boiled egg and hot tea while turning the pages. ‘No More Mulberries’ did for me what a book is supposed to do- it helped me travel to a country which I do not see myself traveling to in the near or distant future- one that’s always been an enigma having read so many books and watched movies set in it.
Having read all of Khaled Hosseini’s books which are centered around Afghanistan I wanted to know what the author being a foreigner could add to what I already knew. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised for not only did she provide details about the culture, the life and the beliefs that supplemented my earlier reading of the place but she did it in a way that kept me turning the pages (swiping my kindle).
The story is about a Scottish woman who falls in love with an Afghan man and moves from Scotland to live in Afghanistan but loses him to infighting in the country. She marries again to be able to continue staying in the country. Her second husband who is a doctor agrees to marry her because he wants to return to Afghanistan with a wife for his own personal reasons. The handling of each of the characters, their personal dilemmas, emotional struggles while throwing light on the nature of the Afghan people helps one appreciate what drives them to behave or act in the way they do.
The author does not shy away from talking about the superstitions surrounding those with leprosy or the sorry state of medical facilities in the towns and villages in the country, the limitations under which the medical camps work, reasons for second marriages and why it is so difficult if not impossible to get the nation out of the rut that it is in.
I did not find any loose ends in the story or the handling of any of the characters in the book: the main ones like Miriam, the Scottish wife; Jawad, the dead husband; Iqbal, the second husband or the minor ones like Usma, Ismail or Chaman. Questions that I had while reading the book were answered during the course of the book making it a satisfying read.
What the author says about the book?
Set in Afghanistan, British-born Miriam finds her marriage to her Afghan doctor husband heading towards crisis. She has to journey into her past to understand how unresolved issues are damaging her relationship. It is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.
Rating: 5 stars without a doubt
Who the book is for?
I would advice anyone curious about different cultures or who enjoys a light, quick read in a different setting or who loves traveling to read the book. It’s also for those who have tried reading Khaled Hosseini but have given up because there’s too much to read or finds the issues too difficult to digest. ‘No More Mulberries,’ gives you Afghanistan in a way that you will want to come back for more. I’m now looking forward to reading more books from the author.
Pricing: The book is free for those with Kindle unlimited membership
Would love to know what you think of the book once you read it. I definitely recommend it as a great book to read when travel is still forbidden and we remain locked indoors.
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