Sunday, 24 August 2014

Review: A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam.

Book: A Golden Age

Author: Tahmima Anam

Pages: 274

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 1 day

Plot Summary: As young widow Rehana Haque awakes one March morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Her children are almost grown, the city is buzzing with excitement after recent elections. Change is in the air. 

But no one can foresee what will happen in the days and months that follow. For this is East Pakistan in 1971, a country on the brink of war. And this family's life is about to change forever. 

Set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence, 'A Golden Age' is a story of passion and revolution, of hope, faith, and unexpected heroism. In the chaos of this era, everyone must make choices. And as she struggles to keep her family safe, Rehana will be forced to face a heartbreaking dilemma.
General Thoughts: I read this book first in 2008, a year after it was published. I picked it up at a bookstore because it was about a period and event in history I had heard lots about from family members and I wanted to read about it.

I read the book in pretty much one sitting and loved it!

In 2012, I saw another book by the same author, A Good Muslim, and I immediately picked it up. I took it to my hometown to read over my one month long holiday. 20 pages in I realized this was a sequel to A Golden Age! I felt like such an idiot for not knowing it before. I enjoyed that book too, though it was very different from this one. I'll talk about that book later...once I re-read it.

Lets talk about this one for now.

Review: I loved this book, really loved it. I liked it then but I really appreciated and enjoyed this book more this time around. Ah! The magic of re-reading favourites.

I loved the writing, it was beautiful, powerful and striking and vivid. I could picture life in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) clearly, see it, smell it and experience it. It was a delightful read.

The characters in this book are it's strongest point- Rehana our protaganist is a strong, loving, kind and brave woman who is deeply in love with her children and being separated from them for a year has made her paranoid about losing them again. This unfortunate separation from her children shapes her and her actions to a great extent. She does anything and everythign in her power to keep her children safe and happy. We see most of the events in the book through Rehana's eyes and she was a splendid character to read about and get to know.

Maya and Sohail, Rehana's children were also very well written and I really felt like I got to know them during the course of this book. Maya better than Sohail. Or maybe I just liked Maya better, she was much more sorted and mature and clear-headed. She was focused and wanted to do something to free her motherland. I also enjoyed reading about the relationship between mother and daughter, the struggles, the fights and their issues.

Sohail remained a bit of an enigma and I am not sure if I like him or not. {You like him even less in the next book. Just saying!}

The secondary characters in this book are also fantastic and well-written and add to the story, Sohails' revolutionary friends Aref and Joy, Mrs' Chowdhury and her suddenly religious daughter Silvi, Rehana's friends, the Senguptas and The Major are all memorable characters that you grow to care about.

The balance between the story of this family and the larger picture- the change in the country at large was done so well. You got to see each aspect beautifully and didn't feel like one half was favoured over the other. You still got an understanding of the history and a look into the life of this family.

Rating: 5/5

I can't recommend this book enough. I am making my sister read this book now and will also make my dad read it once she is done. 

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