Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Pearl That Broke It's Shell - Nadia Hashimi - Guest Book Review

Published by William Morrow

Guest book review by Sue Knight

I enjoyed reading this story so much I find it difficult to believe it’s a debut novel, and really hope that Nadia Hashimi has more ‘in her’.

This is a story of two generations of the same Afghan family Rahima, the story teller and her great great grandmother Shekiba whose stories are a reflection of each other a century apart.

At first I found all the names, some of which are so similar, confusing, but I soon settled into the rhythm of the changing stories (which are clearly indicated in each chapter) and got to know the characters within each story.

The story is gripping and insightful, the prose very descriptive and the subject matter engrossing, educational, emotional, and at times, painful.  I’m not sure I could stand to watch a film adaptation if it were true to the book.  There are many stories within the story but the writing is so good that you absorb these almost without realising as you get to understand the differing relationships.

I’m sure that most of us have some understanding of the male/female hierarchy in the Muslim world but I’m sure that this book will reveal more to most readers – the custom of bacha posh for instance, which allows a young girl to be dressed and treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age (this is no spoiler as it is on the back cover!)

I like a book that makes me want to go off and look something up – this book did that – I had not previously heard of Queen Soraya and now know she is considered the most eminent and revolutionary woman in Afghan and Oriental history.  Sadly although she no doubt changed some things, not enough to avoid the fate of Rahima and her sisters.

As the book covers says this is reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini and others, but I would recommend that you read this book even if you have not read and/or enjoyed these authors as this is a story that deserves to be heard – if only to remind all of us in the ‘western world’ how lucky we are.  When things are getting you down I suggest you recall Shekiba’s words “I have no reason to complain, though.  I am married to a man with a respectable position ……… he keeps us fed and clothed in an esteemed neighbourhood …. He provides for his children and does not beat me.  What more could I have asked of Allah?"

All in all I give this book 10/10 and very much look forward to reading more from Ms Hashimi.

Many thanks to Sue for reading and reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library!


  1. I like the sound of this book particularly as I appear to be struggling with my reading at the moment, in terms of finding something good that grips me too. Nice review :)

  2. That is a great quote from the novel.

    Many folks in the West, myself included, seem to know a lot about recent Afghan history but not so much past one hundred years or so. I like the fact that this book touches on this.

  3. Whilst I can't say I found the synopsis of this one appealing I have to say Sue's review made me think of the book in a whole new light. A book I'll definitely keep a look out for at the library, thanks.

  4. Funny how a review can make you think differently about a book after reading the blurb and thinking maybe not.



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