A heart rending tale about a young widow, Rahana Haque, who loses her husband and is forced to deal with life headlong and protect her children when war erupts.
The book begins with the words” Dear Husband, I lost our children today.” And no her children are not dead but rather her children have been snatched from her and given to her brother and sister-in-law , as she is deemed unfit to raise them because she took them out to watch Cleopatra at the movies. Eventually she does get her children back but this event traumatizes her and she spends most of her life fearing for their lives.
Written by Bangladeshi native,Tahmima Anam, this moving debut novel, is set in Dhaka, East Pakistan in the 1970’s, a city simmering at the center of the Bangladeshi war of Independence. I must admit that although Bangladesh is close to home and the 1970 civil war was closely associated to India, I did have to do more reading into the history of the war.
Rehana, the protagonist is willing to go to any lengths to protect her children, Maya and Sohail but finds herself unable to shied her children from being sucked into the war. Before long the entire Haque household as well as neighbors are in one way or another affected by the war.
At the heart of the novel is a mother’s love for her children but also how one’s personal struggles are indivisibly related to the struggles of their nation. I enjoyed reading this book not only because it was a moving story of love,heartbreak, hope and war, but also because I was impressed with Tahmima’s ability to scale the war and all its accompanying horrors down to a level I could relate to.