Author: Kamila Shamsie, 2014.
Genre: Period Fiction. War. India. Colonialism. Literary.
Other Details: ebook. 320 pages and Unabridged Audio. (9 hrs, 42 mins) Read by Joan Walker.
Summer, 1914. Young Englishwoman Vivian Rose Spencer is in an ancient land, about to discover the Temple of Zeus, the call of adventure, and love. Thousands of miles away a twenty-year-old Pathan, Qayyum Gul, is learning about brotherhood and loyalty in the British Indian army. Summer, 1915. Viv has been separated from the man she loves; Qayyum has lost an eye at Ypres. They meet on a train to Peshawar, unaware that a connection is about to be forged between their lives – one that will reveal itself fifteen years later when anti-colonial resistance, an ancient artefact and a mysterious woman will bring them together again. - synopsis from UK publisher;s website.
I found this a beautifully written novel with a number of layers including history, colonialism, war, and a touching romance.
One member of our reading group did say she found it hard to put down in the final sections. When I got to that part of the novel I realised what she meant as the tragic events in Peshawar unfold and impact on the lives of various characters.
At present this is my early favourite for the 2015 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction as I felt it ticked all the boxes that I look for in a winning novel for a prestigious literary award. It was elegant and lyrical in its style and dealt with universal themes and social issues that still reverberate down the years.
I had loved her earlier novel Burnt Shadows and I now want to read her other works. I was so taken with the novel that I elected to also obtain its audio edition and both listen as well as read it. While this slowed my reading it allowed me to savour the experience.