Set internationally and spanning two decades, Annisa is an intricate portrait of a young Afghan girl's struggle to survive after the Soviet invasion in 1979. Her harrowing escape to America, and her fatal decision to return to her people in Afghanistan, evokes insight into a society torn apart by terrorism, drug smuggling, and bitter conflicts over the role of its women.
Her friendship with a Russian deserter and a volunteer American doctor dramatizes the different forces in her life. But it is her love for a captain in the Afghan army that drives her.
The story ends with the bitter events of 9/11, and the role Annisa's fundamentalist and Western-educated brother may have played in that tragedy.
©2004 Kathleen MacArthur (P)2014 Kathleen MacArthur
This novel of a woman's anguished, shortened life is set against the very real history and horrors of Afghanistan between 1980 and 2001. Beginning as a pampered 12 year old living with her father and two servants in a nice home near the palace while her brother completed med school in NYC, the tale painfully details her emotional growth and character development. First there is the invasion by the Soviets, including plans for them to join her brother in the US. Instead, however, her father is murdered and she refuses to leave her beloved homeland and becomes a freedom fighter. She sees the death of friends and family even as her brother is reportedly murdered randomly in NYC. Life is hard, and a reporter friend of her father and a doctor who went to med school with her brother attempt to convince her to leave Afghanistan for the safety of the US while she gains a nursing degree. Eventually she does go, but still feels as if there is no place for her and soon leaves for England in hope of their greater tolerance of muslims. She returns to Afghanistan after the Soviets leave, in the early days of the Taliban, and finds that her brother was linked to Bin Laden. In the end, she dies at the hands of the Taliban even as, without medication, tuberculosis is slowly killing her. A pervasive thread throughout, is her obsessive love for a man who was once her brother's best friend and a double agent with the CIA. It is also interspersed with past Afghani history. It is rather well-written, but some of the interpersonals with her beloved are a bit awkward. Basically, it is a good read which ensnares the reader.
Then there is the narrator. Speech is clear, and pronunciations of non-English names and words seem to come easily. Characters are differentiated well enough, but the accents used seem a bit odd. But the most useful tip is to listen at speed 1.5x or you might become ill-tempered.
Thanks to AudioBook Blast for the opportunity to receive this book.
The story was riveting! Definitely takes you into the lives of the Afghan people and the struggles they have endured. The story is well written. Character development is very good. You are easily drawn into the time line and personal lives of the characters. Its also a heart wrenching story, considering its theme, that's expected. The characters are fictional and written very realistically.The life's struggles of the people are based on truth. Very well done.
The narration I felt was excellent. The many characters were easy to distinguish. The style of Darla Middlebrook gave each charter their own personality! She didn't just read the story, she brought it to life. She gave the characters that didn't speak good English, the sound of not being good at a second language, as would be expected. Old tired men,sounded exactly as such! Worn out fighters sounded worn out. Emotions, mental attitude,came through the voices of the characters. I don't want a narrator that just reads a story. I prefer a narrator that feels the story and Darla Middlebrook, in my opinion, did just that. I truly enjoyed the listen.
This is my review via a promotion and I am glad I got to preview the listen!
Possibly from Kathleen MacArthur (although a bit more editing would be good), but not Darla Middlebrook.
This is my first one...
No, I was really bothered by the reading. Ms. Middlebrook sounded fine when just reading, but when she changed her voice to differentiate the different characters it was very annoying: they all sounded as if they were drowsing in an opium den or had some strange speech problem. Not good at all!
Yes, write this review to warn other listeners of the strange reading...
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