Holeman (The Linnet Bird) explores the fate of a willful Muslim girl in this exotic and expansive coming-of-age historical romance. Growing up in 19th-century Afghanistan where women are expected to be obedient and subservient, young Daryâ dreams of adventure and freedom. "I could not be obedient," she laments and is consequently cursed by her father's second wife and sold to an abusive nomad. Fearing for her life, she runs away and is rescued by David Ingram, an enigmatic Englishman. He's the first man to show Daryâ kindness, and during a long, perilous journey to Bombay, she falls in love with him. Suppressing his own feelings, David arranges to leave Daryâ behind in India while he returns to England. Desperate to rejoin David, Daryâ agrees to travel to London as the companion of the shady Osric Bull, though he has sinister plans for her. The narrative falters when the setting shifts to London, but fans of the genre will appreciate the vivid rendering of tribal life and the sobering look at what it means to live where it's believed "[m]en are created to enjoy; women to give enjoyment to them." (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Darya, a young Muslim girl, has lived her whole life among family and friends in a small village on the border of Afghanistan and India, yet something in her rebels at the social constraints placed upon her. She need not yearn for change, as it is forced upon her by her stepmother, who trades her in marriage to a stranger from another tribe. Darya must accept a nomadic life among a people who both despise her and are threatened by her intelligence. The story follows Darya as she endures cruel treatment by her husband and finally manages to escape, first to India and then to London. Holeman (The Linnet Bird) is quickly establishing herself as a writer who portrays women of the Victorian era as three-dimensional characters with desires, strengths, and flaws. Readers familiar with Emma Donoghue's Slammerkinwill love this new book, as will those intrigued by stories of the Middle East. Fans of romantic historical fiction will be recommending it to their friends. Recommended for public libraries, especially those with large historical fiction/romance collections.
Biology looms as destiny, then becomes a spur to freedom and accomplishment in the Canadian YA author's heartfelt second adult historical (after The Linnet Bird, 2005). It's a carefully researched portrayal of three 19th-century cultures, centered in the figure of its narrator, Darya, a young Muslim woman we first encounter in her tribal village in Afghanistan. Exhibiting both high spirits and a hunger for "forbidden" knowledge (she furtively reads her father's copy of the Qur'an), Darya incurs the anger of her domineering father, and is further oppressed by the new wife (Sulima), whom he takes when her mother fails to bear him a son. And when Darya finds Sulima in the embrace of another man, her irate stepmother pronounces a curse of barrenness on the girl. Her father sells her to a nomadic tribe, whereupon she becomes the abused wife of a haughty chieftain's son, Shaliq. It seems she'll never fulfill the independent destiny toward which her late grandmother Madar Kalan (the only strong woman Darya has ever known) had pointed her. The best sections here are in these potently detailed early chapters, succeeded by Darya's escape from Shaliq, passage to India (Bombay) accompanied by mild-mannered Englishman David Ingram, who, for reasons of his own, cannot be the man she desires and needs, and thence-as the traveling companion of an exploiter ("Mr. Bull") who might have come out of a Dickens novel-to Victorian London, which is itself something less than a nirvana for a woman alone. The choice of Darya as narrator provides needed unity and elicits reader empathy, but limits Holeman's somewhat oblique presentation of cultural inequities and ironies. Still, her heroine's tale is a stirring andexemplary one, and the novel seems a natural for reading groups. Oprah's audience might very well enjoy and admire this one.