Publisher: Random House, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Chicklit
'Women are like tea bags; you never know how strong they are until they're put in hot water......Eleanor Roosevelt
This is the story of a country torn apart by war, of a little cafe in Kabul and the five very different women it brings together. As these five discover there's more to one another than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that will for ever change their lives and the lives of many others.
Sunny, the proud proprietor, a warm hearted and generous American who has grown to love her life in Kabul but who needs an ingenious plan - and fast - to keep her cafe and customers safe.
Yazmina, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul's violent streets, she is rescued by Sunny and works at the coffee shop.
Candace, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the slick and enigmatic Wakil.
Isabel, a determined British journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life.
And Halajan, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules. My favourite of the five she has seen it all......" in the burqa and out of the burqa, in miniskirts, back into long dresses - the wars that took friends and family, the droughts that caused famine and killed the roses and the trees of Kabul, and she realized she, like her country, had survived." Nothing has broken her spirit and she loves to flout the Taliban's rules in her own small way.
This is a book for women, about women. Each of them has a secret, each of them is fearful of the future but they all find strength and hope through the friendship and support of the others. Their individual stories are fairly predictable and because there are so many characters, in a book of less than 300 pages , there's not much room for character development.
It is Afghanistan that takes centre stage. Deborah Rodriguez , author of the memoir Kabul Beauty School , lived and worked in Kabul and her love and knowledge of this country and it's people make for a background rich in details of the culture and customs. She takes every opportunity to weave women's issues into the storyline and for anyone interested in learning about these subjects this is an excellent introduction .
It's well written, light and easy reading and includes at the back a Q & A with the author, book club discussion questions, and some Afghan recipes.