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Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

United States diplomat Angela Morgan experienced a devastating loss over two decades ago when the U.S. Embassy building was bombed while her husband, Tom, was inside. She watched the building tumble into ashes, and as a result of being so close to the explosion, she miscarried her unborn child. Angela’s career has nearly fizzled out; she wants to be sent to London, but because of her poor performance she is sent overseas to Afghanistan.

Life in Afghanistan is lonely for Angela: the male soldiers reject her presence and she constantly has to defend her position. Though she speaks the native Dari language, Angela is forced to hide her talents and works with a young translator named Rahim. Slowly, Angela begins making friends with the male soldiers, and even begins to fall for Mark Davies, a British major. Rahim becomes like a son to her, and she involves herself in his forbidden relationship with Nilofar. Being in Afghanistan is an eye opening experience for Angela; though she cannot solve all of the country’s problems, she finds ways to contribute to make the lives of Afghan women easier. Her new life in Afghanistan doesn’t make her forget the past, but it does encourage her to start anew.

In 2010, Patricia McArdle was chosen as the Amazon Breakthrough Novel winner for her debut novel, Farishta, in the General Fiction category. Farishta is written in 1st person and reads as if it is a memoir. It is immensely detailed with McArdle’s knowledge of Afghanistan, which at times causes the book to drag on. I also didn’t care for McArdle’s writing style, which in my opinion was too dry and lacking in emotion. With fiction I prefer a playful writing style with a more poetic approach.

Farishta will appeal to readers interested in learning more about the women of Afghanistan and the rest of the world’s involvement in their country. I particularly wanted to read it because of Angela’s desire to aid the refugees and the oppressed women. Unfortunately, her interaction with the Afghan women was very sparse. I was, however, interested in her friendship with Nilofar. Based on the little I know about McArdle, I think I would have enjoyed reading her memoir instead of her attempt with fiction. The parts I enjoyed about Farishta cannot overshadow my discontent with the novel’s conclusion.

Rating: 2/5

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Riverhead. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.