While I enjoyed listening to this book, I felt like I couldn't entirely trust the writer. I wasn't sure what her motives were for going to Kabul or for marrying an Afghani man (or for leaving half-grown children back in the states, for that matter).
The writer's self-centred approach got in the way of the characters because each character was seen through a naive American lens that limited and flattened the residents of Kabul to stereotypical roles of warlords or former mujahadeen, victims of the Taliban ot helpless pawns in familial manoevering. Each episode she describes casts herself as the central American rescuer - facing up to kidnapping nasty neighbours, winning over unresponsive in-laws, saving the honour of not-so-virginal brides.
Overall, it isn't a substantial book - rather like the light-hearted (or occasionally mean-spirited) gossip of beauty salons everywhere.
I wish I could get my money back. The narration is over-blown, with a fake-sweet voice used specifically to introduce Christian messages of forgiveness and redemption. There is no character development or even plot development. This is a terrible book and I won't buy any others from this series.
I wish I'd listened to other reviewers...D. Feldman isn't a bad writer. She's going to be good, I think. But I wish she'd put this in a drawer for about ten years so that she could reflect with some maturity on her experience. I quit listening after a couple of hours because the limitations of her experience of the world made everything flat - it reads as if it was written by a kid hanging out in the mall. No depth.
The first time I listened, I was outraged at the narrator's mispronounciation of Antigonish and couldn't get by it. It coloured my whole experience and I wrote the book off with a "two star" and some regret that I'd "wasted" a credit.
On holiday this year, I decided I should give it another go - the book has won the Governor General's award & I like Lyndon MacIntyre. How glad I am that I did!
The story unfolds in layers & the characters with it. It is both fresh & familiar. I love this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed Hitchens' narration. I found myself laughing out loud several times - which startled my fellow commuters on the bus, no doubt.
In some ways, the delivery reminded me of Spalding Gray's monologues (if Spalding Gray had been a tired, chain-smoking, British journalist writing for, of all things, Vanity Fair in New York). I'd love to see Hitchens deliver this as a lecture. Perhaps in a smoky jazz bar...
The whole book is a delightful counterpoint to the absolute self-righteous earnestness of religious dialogue in America these days (not to mention the rest of the world). It's refreshing.
Buy this book and listen thrice!
I love the biography - it is well written and engaging (as are most of her books) but the narration really destroyed it for me. I quit listening 1/2 way through and went for the print edition. A thoroughly annoying English granny accent with atrocious English-public-school French pronounciations set my teeth on edge.
I advise people to listen to the sample first to see if they can stand the narration before they decide to download this audio version of this great book.
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