My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
I chose to read this book because I know very little about the Qatari community, or about life as a Muslim in general. I was interested by the premise.
The writing is literary in style and very good.
Of the characters, I liked Abdullah a lot. He was a man who is still grieving for his lost wife and unborn child. He doesn’t particularly like the new wife that’s been chosen for him, but has to go along with it.
Hind came across as very self centred, but the way she felt was understandable, given the constraints that would be placed on her. Although, as her sister Noor points out, given the constraints, she could do a lot worse. She wants to go abroad to study, which she gets as a condition of the engagement.
Sangita was a good character too, although a little reckless in the way she continued to write her controversial blog. I liked Sangita more than I liked Hind.
Luluwa was lovely.
There were a lot of points of view characters, (if you read my reviews regularly, you know I get quite worked up about POV, so if it’s not something that bothers you, just skip this paragraph). I’m not sure we needed some of them. For example, Luluwa – lovely character, but did we need her point of view? There was nothing there that couldn’t have been fed in elsewhere. Also, the choice of which scenes were chosen was weird. For example, Hind is a POV character. We know, in depth, how she feels about her impending marriage and how she meets and befriends Sangita. Then she runs off to India with Sangita’s brother Ravi … and we don’t hear from her again until the end. Somewhere in there, Hind decides she wants to go back to Qatar and the limited life she hates so much, rather than elope with Ravi. We don’t get to see any of that, which seems odd. In the end she goes off to the diplomatic post that she wanted from the start but thought she couldn’t have… apparently all it took was for Abdullah to conveniently pull some strings and suddenly, it was possible. (There’s probably more to it than that, but we didn’t see it).
Likewise, Sangita is a fairly minor character until she suddenly becomes a POV character in the middle of the book.
I picked up the book because I wanted to learn more about Qatari culture. There’s lots of that, which is good.