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4.1 6
by Patricia McArdle

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An American diplomat is forced to confront the devastation of her past when she is assigned to remote northern Afghanistan. 

Twenty-one years ago, diplomat Angela Morgan witnessed the death of her husband during the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Devastated by her loss and suffering from untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she fled


An American diplomat is forced to confront the devastation of her past when she is assigned to remote northern Afghanistan. 

Twenty-one years ago, diplomat Angela Morgan witnessed the death of her husband during the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Devastated by her loss and suffering from untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she fled back to America, where she hid in the backwaters of the State Department and avoided the high-profile postings that would advance her career. Now, with that career about to dead-end and no true connections at home, she must take the one assignment available-at a remote British army outpost in northern Afghanistan. Unwelcome among the soldiers and unaccepted by the local government and warlords, Angela has to fight to earn the respect of her colleagues, especially the enigmatic Mark Davies, a British major who is by turns her staunchest ally and her fiercest critic. Frustrated at her inability to contribute to the nation's reconstruction, Angela slips out of camp disguised in a burka to provide aid to the refugees in the war-torn region. She becomes their farishta, or "angel," in the local Dari language-and discovers a new purpose for her life, a way to finally put her grief behind her. 

In the same way that Kevin Powers drew on his own experience in Iraq for The Yellow Birds, in Farishta Patricia McArdle uses her time spent as a diplomat to create an on-the-ground account of the war in Afghanistan. Farishta is a deeply moving and fast-paced story of a woman struggling to move beyond a past trauma, and finding a new community, a new love, and a new sense of self in the process.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With its shades of A Bell for Adano, McArdle's debut—winner of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award—is a quietly devastating novel about an American trying to do good in a foreign land, but finding that best intentions are not always enough to overcome bureaucracy and entrenched folkways. Twenty-two years after her husband was killed and she was injured and lost her unborn baby in the 1983 Beirut embassy bombing, Angela Morgan sees her Foreign Service career at a dead end until she's sent to a remote British army outpost in northern Afghanistan. She finds herself, as an American, at odds with her British counterparts, and, as a woman, at odds with the culture's attitude toward her gender. In the course of secretly trying to help the locals (and gaining the name Farishta—Dari for angel), Angela begins two touching relationship; one with Rahim, her translator, who, at 23, reminds her of the son she never had; the other with Maj. Mark Davies, a handsome British intelligence officer. Events conspire to force Angela to choose between public service and personal happiness. Based on her experiences as a Foreign Service officer in Afghanistan, McArdle writes insightfully about the quagmire in that country and the human cost of war. (June)
Kirkus Reviews

The unvarnished but heartfelt tale of the lone woman stationed with a remote reconstruction team in northern Afghanistan during a year marked by romance, tragedy and solar ovens—winner of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Retired American diplomat McArdle's own experience gives authentic flavor to her story of American diplomat Angela (translated as angel or Farishta in the Dari language) Morgan, forced to choose between early retirement and an unappealing 12-month posting to Mazar-i-Sharif in the war zone. Widowed after a bombing in Beirut and still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 47-year-old Angela is driven by determination and impulsiveness, both of which emerge when defying convention by riding a stallion in public, facing down warlords and moving around without armed guards in dangerous territory. In an episodic narrative, she befriends her translator Rahim and gets embroiled in his forbidden love affair; saves the life of an Afghani child; falls foul of a devious but attractive Russian spy; engages with imprisoned and segregated women; finds a purpose in introducing solar ovens to a population busily denuding its country of trees; and encounters romance again with a younger, starchier man, a British Major who initially disapproves of her presence and activities. Despite the danger and drama, the story's pedestrian tone is accented by a documentary feel and wooden dialogue, although a final sequence of disasters intensifies emotion.

Sincere but earthbound.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Valerie Plame Wilson
“Combining the emotional insight of Three Cups of Tea with the narrative intensity of a Jason Bourne story, Farishta is the gripping story of a female US diplomat living and working in Afghanistan. Met with open hostility not only by the Afghan males, but also within her own all-male mission team, over the course of her year there, she has to overcomes their antagonism and confront real danger and tragedy.”--(Valerie Plame Wilson, author of Fair Game)
Deborah Rodriguez
“Farishta opens a window into the challenging life of a diplomat. Patricia McArdle accurately portrays life in the northern regions of Afghanistan. Her written wealth of knowledge and experiences enhances the reader’s ability to understand and appreciate a complex career and multifaceted culture. This finely crafted book would make an excellent text for studying this foreign society. Farishta is an outstanding read!”--(Deborah Rodriguez, author of the New York Timesbestselling Kabul Beauty School and A Cup of Friendship)

Meet the Author

Patricia McArdle is a retired American diplomat. During her career, she was posted around the world, including northern Afghanistan.

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Farishta 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
GiaTheBookWorm More than 1 year ago
Too close to home and uncomfortable for some. This book is definitely an eye opener for those of us who are fortunate enough to not have had to endure the pains and sufferings of the less fortunate in third world countries, in particular, women. Nicholas D. Kristof also has a lot of similar materials for reference, and further reading. Half the Sky is another recommended read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book!!
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Tuleda Robinson More than 1 year ago
From a womans view very good book never heard of solar ovens in country what a great project
Anonymous More than 1 year ago