A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

Review published on July 5, 2017.

For most of her life, Zeba has lived quietly in an Afghan village, a loyal wife and loving mother. However, on one horrific day, her family’s world is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Covered in blood and catatonic with shock, Zeba refuses to explain what happened. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, she is sent to Kabul’s Chil Mahtab, a women’s’ prison.

As Zeba awaits trial, she befriends other women whose own misfortune has lead them to the bleak cells.

Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer, whose desire to help his homeland has brought him back. With the fate of this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.

This book provides a roller coaster of emotions. As a woman of the Western world I had very little understanding of the cultural differences of the East. Women are valued so little and men are all powerful. The book also gives a taste of the daily life and customs of Afghanistan.

The reader has to bear in mind that this is a work of fiction. In amongst the story of the plight of women there is a murder mystery thrown in for good measure.

I liked the central character, Zeba, and was hoping for a positive outcome and I was kept guessing how this could be resolved.

A criticism of the book would be that it is a little long and I felt the author struggled to maintain the momentum. The story is also a little predictable.

Overall, I would recommend this book particularly to book groups as there are a lot of areas for discussion. The book is multi-faceted and combines fiction with non-fiction. It is well-written with a fully developed plot and characters. The book has a family at its heart and the way they pull together when adversity strikes is admirable. I will also be putting the author’ previous books on my reading list.

Dorothy Flaxman 4/5

A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi
William Morrow Paperbacks 9780062449658 pbk Jul 2017

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