Kamila Shamsie/Fiction Historical
[★-lost me ★★-average ★★★-worth a read ★★★★-excellent ★★★★★-amazing]
The bonds between Pashtun men – in Flanders and during the struggle for Indian independence – are captured in this wartime story of a London archaeologist’s travels to Peshawar
July 1914. Young Englishwoman Vivian Rose Spencer is running up a mountainside in an ancient land, surrounded by figs and cypresses. Soon she will discover the Temple of Zeus, the call of adventure, and the ecstasy of love. Thousands of miles away a twenty-year old Pathan, Qayyum Gul, is learning about brotherhood and loyalty in the British Indian army.
July, 1915. Qayyum Gul is returning home after losing an eye at Ypres, his allegiances in tatters. Viv is following the mysterious trail of her beloved. They meet on a train to Peshawar, unaware that a connection is about to be forged between their lives – one that will reveal itself fifteen years later, on the Street of Storytellers, when a brutal fight for freedom, an ancient artefact and a mysterious green-eyed woman will bring them together again.
A powerful story of friendship, injustice, love and betrayal, A GOD IN EVERY STONE carries you across the globe, into the heart of empires fallen and conquered, reminding us that we all have our place in the chaos of history and that so much of what is lost will not be forgotten.
Reviews on Goodreads called A God In Every Stone a book that will stay with you forever. And it did not disappoint. It features those slices of history that are not commonly eaten; Herotodus, the father of history, and how he stole all of Syclax’ tales of India for his histories, the temple of Zeus in Labraunda, which is in present day Turkey, soldiers in the British Indian Army fighting for a foreign land at France, at Ypres,the role of women in the First World War, 23 April 1930 on the Street of Storytellers in Peshawar.
Vivian Rose Spencer is a bubbly 21 year old archaelogist who discovers the temple of Zeus, the sweetness of fig and her love for her father’s Turkish friend, Tahsin Bey, who is twenty-five years older than her. Her father, Dr Spencer, has, in the absence of any sons, brought her in such a way that she is female in instinct and male in intellect. To please her father, Viv, wittingly or unwttingly, betrays Tahsin. In the War, she serves as a VAD nurse in a class A hospital. Following a cryptic letter from her beloved, and to escape the cruelties of war, she embarks on a journey to Caspatyrus, which historians have placed in or around Caspatyrus, to search for him. Qayyum Gul is a Pathan soldier in the British Indian Army, who, after losing his right eye and his loyalty at Ypres, returns to Peshawar to take up his father’s role as a scribe. Viv and Qayyum meet at the climax of the story at the famed Street of Storytellers. The search for a circlet of Syclax, embossed with figs and leaves, is the pivot around which the story rotates. In every Kamila Shamsie book, there is one character who is free-spirited and does things in his-her own way. If it was Kim Burton in Burnt Shadows, it is Sepoy Kalam Khan in A God in Every Stone. The second half of AGiES picks up pace and I found myself praying that please, please, let Najeeb Gul be alive. Like I’ve said before, it is obvious that Shamsie has in-depth understanding of the subject she writes about. She has shown a new side to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the Frontier Gandhi and the leader of Khudai Khidmatgar(Servants of God) or the Red Shirts[I am finally glad for my class 10 Indian history. Kamila Shamsie writes with a beautiful poetic languages, instead of saying that men were jumping, she says ‘men were falling falling from the sky’. She portrays Pathans not only as being hot-headed, but also as fiercely loyal, and the Englih as people who love and spread love.