Book Reviews

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 416 Pages.

Published: 11 April 2013 by Sphere

Edition: 0

ISBN: 075155040X

EAN: 9780751550405

In a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women come together.

SUNNY, the proud proprietor, who needs an ingenious plan - and fast - to keep her café and customers safe.

YAZMINA, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul's violent streets.

CANDACE, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil.

ISABEL, a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life.

And HALAJAN, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules.

As these five women discover there's more to one another than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that will for ever change their lives and the lives of many others.


2.0 Stars2.0 Stars  by Anne

Issue led rather than character led

The author has lived in Kabul so the experiences of the Western characters living there should be accurate. I haven't lived in Afghanistan so I don't know if their stories are accurate but I have no reason to suppose that they aren't. Unfortunately, what came across was a series of different characters created by the author each of which has an issue, usually associated with a man (past rape, difficulty in deciding between two men, financial abuse by a man) where the issue determined the character and the story. It felt very chick litty to me, which isn't a problem except that it could have had more depth or characterisation.

Had the book only concerned itself with the Western characters then I would have awarded the book three stars but I was quite unhappy about the portrayal of the stories of the people of Kabul. I found these even more stereotypical than the Western characters (woman rejected by her community, lovers who cannot connect, man trying to uphold traditions) and the local characters all to be reflected in their relationship with Sunny, the woman who owns the titular eating establishment. I thought that mixing all the many stories together made each of them very quick and without depth and that the local characters' stories suffered more because of this.

I think that the author maybe should have reduced the number of stories she was trying to tell so that she could have given more time to them and prevented them from feeling stereotypical and shallow. I felt that a lot of this book felt rushed and the stories progressed very quickly and without nuance and complexity. I also never really got a feel for the city and the culture except for the cafe which was full of ex-pats and therefore not typical.

I don't think I will be revisiting this author's work

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