I have been waiting for the publication of A Thousand Splendid Suns almost since I closed Khaled Hosseini's amazing debut novel The Kite Runner for the last time.
And while it may not quite as riveting as the same league as the first book, that's a bit like saying Green & Black chocolate isn't
quite as tasty as Lindt.
The book is again set in the author's native Afghanistan against
the background of the long nightmare that country has endured - Soviet occupation, ‘liberation' and the hell of the Taliban.
And whereas The Kite Runner concentrated on the relationship between two boys, central to this book is the extraordinary friendship forged between two women.
One is Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man who is sent off to marry Rasheed, a brutal man 30 years her senior, after her mother's suicide; the other is Laila, the beautiful daughter of an intellectual, who is tricked into becoming Rasheed's second wife after her parents are killed by a stray mortar.
As with The Kite Runner, much of the subject matter is distinctly harrowing, but there is also some sort of redemption in the midst
of all the suffering in the form of the bond between the two main characters.
And if nothing else, it makes you extremely glad as a woman to have been born when and where you were.