Afghan Silk by Julia Scott
|Afghan Silk by Julia Scott|
|Genre: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The contrast between the vicious fighting on the North-West frontier and English village life could not have been greater and Michael is forced to re-evaluate his life. Recommended if you enjoy a good story.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: December 2008|
|Publisher: Tiger of the Stripe|
Looking back at 1938 it's easy to forget that Europe wasn't the only part of the world with overwhelming political tensions. British forces were fighting in Afghanistan and Michael, serving with the Gurkhas on the North-West frontier, is horrified by what the Pathan tribesmen will do to the soldiers they capture. The experience changes him.
When he returned to England on leave the contrast could not have been starker as he settled in to the conventional life of the middle class in an English village. Garden parties, amateur dramatics and trips to the theatre with Sarah, his fiancée, fill his life but it's only when he meets Ruth, a German-Jewish refugee with a rather dubious past that he begins to wonder if marriage to Sarah is right – for either of them.
This book isn't great literature, but it is a very good story. Michael's time in Asia is handled sensitively but there are no punches pulled – this was vicious warfare – and it serves as an effective contrast to the elegant, constrained life in England. It was the look of things that mattered – what was underneath was of little importance. Sarah's father is a supporter of Oswald Moseley and loses few opportunities to push his black shirt views, with no thought at all for the refugee in their midst. Ruth has escaped from Germany with her son to stay with her English grandmother, but her parents are still in Germany and in terror of the concentration camps.
The relationship between Michael and Sarah is well portrayed. By modern-day standards it's startlingly conventional with it being down to Michael to suggest a date for the wedding. Sarah expects to go out to India to live once she and Michael are married.
My initial impression of the book is that the characters are a little two dimensional and you're never in any doubt about where your sympathies are going to fall. People are either intrinsically good - or boorish and rather wearing on the nerves. There's not a lot of finesse so far as the people are concerned and being honest you'll work out who ends up with who fairly early on, but I doubt that you'll predict quite how it works out the way that it does – there really is a rather neat twist in the tail and a few moments when your heart is well and truly in your mouth.
If you want subtlety in characterisation then this is probably not the book for you, but if you like nothing more than to settle down with a good story then I think you'll enjoy yourself.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals to you then we think that you might also enjoy Coronation Talkies by Susan Kurosawa.
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