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A Thousand Splendid Suns : Book Review

  1. Author: Khaled Hosseini
  2. Release: May 22, 2007
  3. Pages: 384
  4. Genre: Fiction
  5. Publisher: Riverhead Books
  6. Language: English
  7. Good Reads:


A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.


The story is set out in Afghanistan in time period of 1960’s to 1990’s and even 2000’s covering the miseries of the Afghanistani people under soviet control and Taliban invasion. The story talks about life of two wives of a man.

Mariam was abandoned by her father and she lived with her mother on the outskirts of the city of Heart. In hope to live with her father’s family, she left her mother one night. Her mother couldn’t bear this and committed suicide. Then she got a chance to live with her father, who under pressure of his 3 wives married her off to a man 20 years senior to Mariam. Life from then onward looked sunny to Mariam until her miscarriage and then a chain of recurring miscarriages which made her husband abusive towards her. She accepted it as her fate and learnt to live with her husband and tolerate his violence.

The second protagonist is Laila, who was deprived of her mother’s love as her mother couldn’t get over the loss of her two sons in war. She had a male friend whom she loved and wanted to marry. But unfortunately, she couldn’t be with him as he moved to Peshawar along with his family to be safe in the time of war. Laila then agrees to marry Rasheed (Mariam’s husband) when she realized she was pregnant and had already lost her family in war. She then had a second child with Rasheed. Finding each other in similar helpless situations and suffering under violence of their husband, Mariam and Laila developed a mother – daughter relation. The story then revolves around their relation and subsequent quest for freedom.


The story mainly revolves around the lives of Mariam and Laila, the two female protagonists. Mariam, who was abandoned by her father has always been optimistic and even after being abandoned she considered him to be a good man. Living on the outskirts of the city of Heart, she knew little about the life in Heart. Her character motivates the reader to cope up positively with the complexities of life and accept whatever life gives you happily. Talking about Laila, she was a bubbly girl with lots’ of dreams in her life. But even she couldn’t save herself from adversities that war threw her way. Even after all the sufferings in her life, she never gave up on hope. Instead, she fought for her and her children’s survival and happiness. The two ladies are an inspiration for the reader and every woman could relate with Mariam and Laila at some point of the story.


The language used by the author is impressively descriptive as one could easily imagine each and every scene. Also the story though talks about the lives of two women but is very well connected.


The first half of the story is narrated by the first female protagonist, Mariam. Mariam narrates her story from her childhood till her marriage with Rasheed. Further the narration is taken over by the second protagonist in the later half, Laila. She starts from her war – stricken childhood and narrates the story till her marriage and subsequent events. The multiple narrators help to break the monotony and thoughts and expressions are narrated in form of stream of consciousness.


Plot line of the story is based on the lives of people who suffered over the years during the time of war in Afghanistan. The story keeps you glued to the book and the sufferings and misfortunes tug the heartstrings of the reader. The story is very unique and not predictable.

Final Thoughts

Although the book talks about the Soviet and Taliban invasion in Afghanistan but there’s a bigger picture to the story. The story particularly focuses on life and struggles of Women. The author includes many different women in the story to showcase this. Mariam’s mother never got acceptance from her child’s father but she still went through struggles of life to raise her daughter. Mariam, who realized her mother’s sacrifice only after she lost her. She could never become a mother and took Laila as her daughter, even though she shared her husband with her.

Laila’s mother, who lost her sons in war and could never give love to her daughter that she deserved. Laila, who agreed to marry Rasheed because she herself was about to be a mother and didn’t want her child to live a life as an illegitimate. The story talks about a woman’s sacrifices more than the war in Afghanistan. This beautiful thought that Mariam’s mother sums up the story beautifully.

A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed. It won’t stretch to make room for you.

Highly recommended read to everyone and all ages.

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Written by Tanu Dhiman


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