An American diplomat is forced to confront the devastation of her past when she is assigned to remote Northern Afghanistan.
In 1983 junior diplomat and brilliant linguist Angela Morgan witnessed the death of her young husband during the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. Devastated by her loss, she fled back to Washington, DC, and hid in the backwaters of the US State Department. With the exception of a two-year tour of duty in the former Soviet Union in the late '80s, she managed for almost two decades to avoid high-profile postings that would advance her career. Now, with that career about to dead end and no true connections at home, she must take the one assignment available - at a remote British army outpost in Northern Afghanistan. Unwelcome among the soldiers and unaccepted by the local government and warlords, Angela has to fight to earn the respect of her colleagues, especially the enigmatic Mark Davies, a British major who is by turns her staunchest ally and her fiercest critic. Frustrated at her inability to contribute to the nation's reconstruction, Angela slips out of camp disguised in a burka to provide aid to the refugees in the war-torn region. She becomes their farishta ("angel" in the local Dari language), discovers a new purpose for her life, and finds a way to finally put her grief behind her. Drawing on the author's own experiences as a diplomat in Northern Afghanistan, Farishta is a deeply moving and fast-paced story of a woman struggling to move beyond a past trauma who finds a new community, a new love, and a new sense of self in the process.
©2011 Patricia McArdle (P)2015 Patricia McArdle
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"An illuminating account of life in Afghanistan"
Illuminating, interesting, moving
I would compare Farishta to memoirs of war because it reads like a memoir sometimes, but also with books with good accounts of a real, reasonable and human female characters.
My favourite scene was when Angela has the idea for the solar ovens and knows how life improving this simple idea can be.
It's particularly moving the time she visits a female prison to learn if the female inmates are being mistreated. They are there for "marital crimes" and although there is not immediate mistreatment of them, they are being severely wronged by a male-dominated system and are completed powerless and silenced.
I really enjoyed this book, not knowing exactly what kind of story it would tell. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel about a fictitious Angela Morgan, a forty-seven year old American diplomat whose personal life is basically inexistent and her experiences in a PTR camp (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Afghanistan in the year 2005. In this year, the war was being fought most to the south, in Iraq, so she does not experience a lot of war, but it’s there, in the background, with all its hazards, and sometimes it just pops up. The main character is a levelheaded female struggling with some personal issues but she is a reasonable, good humored and likeable person, and it’s interesting to see how she goes on in her year in Afghanistan, especially with trying to overcome her fears and reaching for other people. The most interesting part, for me, was the setting, the cultural, historical and geographical descriptions of life in Afghanistan, and the innumerous obstacles – political, economical and cultural – for the reconstruction of a country devastated by so many wars, internal and external. Since the author is a American diplomat who was posted in northern Afghanistan for a year, her account of life there, in the camp and in the streets or places she frequented, is really vivid and it conveyed the difficulties and perplexities this place presents to its own people and to foreign forces. I particularly liked how she was capable to see the plight of women and children in the day-to-day life (who are basically non-existent entities to military or reconstruction teams) and tried to help in a simple but fruitful way (I read later that this is part of the author real experience there and I was glad she is still working to improve conditions of the Afghan people with a great insight). The narrative is also fast and fluid and helps to get you in the setting of the novel.
I was given a copy of the audio book to review and I would recommend it to everyone, since it was an agreeable surprise to me (I don’t think I would have known of this book otherwise, and now I am happy I had the chance). The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, improving the listener experience.
"Thought provoking, heart breaking and facinating"
Elizabeth does an excellent job with the characters. Her ability to pull you into the story with her voice and portrayal of the characters makes this a great listen.
Although this story has a hero and heartwarming romance, it also has a heart breaking situation and background. I definitely felt for Farishta and cheered her on as she navigated through misfortune. Good read, interesting characters and an interesting insight into the human spirit.
"Interesting, well-written, and well-read story"
The story of a woman diplomat's tour of duty in Northern Afghanistan. In this audio version, we hear how Angela Morgan struggles to overcome the prejudices of both the men she serves with and the Afghans themselves. The story tells us of her attempts to overcome the horrors of her past and how she moves forward and in so doing, helps the people of Afghanistan in the process. Does she find a new love or not? That question will be answered by listening to this well-written and well-read story. Elizabeth Klett does an outstanding job of narrating, using different male and female intonations of voice, and she does an amazing array of accents, such as Afghan, Russian, French and English to name a few.
"Excellent story of an Afghanistan that isn't seen by Americans"
Farishta tells the story of an American Foreign Service Officer stationed with the British forces at a base in rural northern Afghanistan. It provides an excellent view into the daily lives of those allied personnel there who are trying to improve conditions, albeit at a very slow and incremental pace. It give one a view into the lives of average Afghans and the stifling social constraints they live under. Woven into the story is that of loves struggle to endure these conditions. As always, Elizabeth Klett does an amazing job of narrating the story and providing an assortment of ale and female voices of numerous nationalities. She is undoubtedly America's premier narrator of audiobooks.
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