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The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (originally published as A Cup of Friendship): A Novel Paperback – March 20, 2012


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The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (originally published as A Cup of Friendship): A Novel + Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780345514769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345514769
  • ASIN: 0345514769
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (303 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rodriguez follows bestselling memoir Kabul Beauty School with a superb debut novel centering on a group of women who come together in a Kabul coffee shop run by Sunny, a free-spirited American. Sunny takes in the young widow, Yazmina, the casualty of her uncle's debt to Afghan thugs, who had taken the girl as payment but dumped her on the side of the road when they discovered she was pregnant. Halajan is a firecracker older widow who hides her cropped hairdo, jean skirts, and love letters under her burqa. Isabel, a hard-hitting BBC journalist on location to expose the story of the destruction of the poppy fields, uncovers a deeper truth: female workers addicted to the opium they handle who are then, some with their babies, jailed for "moral crimes." Candace, a well-heeled Bostonian, has followed her Afghan boyfriend to Kabul to fund-raise for his school, but soon suspects his real motives for the school and their relationship. A craftsman and a storyteller, Rodriguez captures place and people wholeheartedly, unveiling the faces of Afghanistan's women through a wealth of memorable characters who light up the page. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In her first take on fiction, Rodriguez (author of 2007’s Kabul Beauty School) trades curling iron for coffee machine in her first novel, set in the Afghan capital. A myriad cast of characters run and frequent the Kabul Coffee House, owned by the unflappable Sunny, an aptly named American woman, and we experience the novel alternatingly from their points of view. Although this method prevents any one character from being truly developed, it provides valuable insight into the many sides of the world of which Rodriguez (who herself opened a coffee shop in Afghanistan) is clearly very knowledgeable and fond. With a message similar to the one that prompted her to open the Kabul Beauty School (to protect and empower the women of Kabul), Rodriguez weaves her tale of life, death, and marriage, relying heavily on that which is currently forbidden and taboo in Afghan society. Readers will appreciate in-depth, sensory descriptions of this oft-mentioned and faraway place that most have never seen. --Annie Bostrom --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Deborah Rodriguez is a hairdresser, motivational speaker and author of the bestselling memoir The Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil. She spent five years teaching and later directing the Kabul Beauty School, the first modern beauty academy and training salon in Afghanistan. Rodriguez also owned the Oasis Salon and the Cabul Coffee House and is the founder of Oasis Rescue, a nonprofit organization that provides help to women in troubled, post conflict and economically depressed areas. This organization also helps build a bridge from where they are to where they want to be in regards to the art of hairdressing.

She currently owns and operates a spa in Mexico and is working on a new book, The House at Carnival Street, an intimate account of her journey to remake her life after being forced to leave Afghanistan.

Her first novel, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, is an international best seller.

Customer Reviews

I found it very interesting.
Susan Marks
The story set in Kabul and was made interesting because of the culture and the mystery of life in Afghanistan, particularly for women.
Glenda
At it's heart though, this is a love story.
ShellBeWrite

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Holly TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read "Kabul Beauty School" by this author quite a while ago and it is a book that still haunts me today. When I found out that Deborah Rodriguez had written a novel set in Afghanistan, I was quick to pick it up since my interest was piqued by her first book and the country has been featured so prominently in the political news. The setting for the narrative is the coffee shop our main character (Sunny) operates in Kabul, largely catering to ex-pats. There is not much explanation around why Sunny has ended up in this war-torn country, but the reader jumps right into the narrative of the daily operation of the coffee house. Staffed by Afghans but frequented by ex-pats, the two cultures co-exist and sometimes collide, under one roof. When a young Afghan woman is rescued by Sunny from the horrible fate that awaits her, clashes between western culture and the realities of fundamentalist Islam run rampant.

On the positive side, this novel is written by a woman who has walked in the same shoes as her protagonist. Seeing the Afghan culture through the eyes of someone who has lived there is fascinating. When you get all your information from the press, it keeps you focused on the political struggles and you miss the impact on the country's people. This brings it home even though it's fiction. I better understand the situation of women in this culture as a result and for that I am grateful.

On the flip side, Ms. Rodriguez is not a writer by training and it shows, particularly in the beginning of the book and then again toward the end. This just isn't the smooth prose of a gifted writer like Julia Glass or Elizabeth Berg. At times it was awkward enough to pull me out of the story and to impact my enjoyment of the novel - unpolished is the best word I can use to describe it.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on December 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the professional reviewers above has it exactly right: A Cup of Friendship is a Maeve Binchy-style romance that takes place in wartorn Afghanistan. The story is a fairly sanitized, non-gritty version of what is happening in Kabul where the horrors take place in the background and the main characters, for the most part, exist in some sort of lucky zone of happiness. The dialog is a bit forced and the romance is almost too obvious. I will give the novel high marks for pointing out the horrible situations of many women in Afghanistan, the novel as a whole is too sanitized for my taste. I would expect an Afghan novel to be a bit more gritty, but I also understand that not everyone wants to read gritty novels. A Cup of Friendship will bring the realities of modern Afghani women to a much larger audience, so I applaud Deborah Rodriguez for that.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Meredith on December 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In Afghanistan waiting for her lover to return from whatever dangerous mission he is on now Sunny runs a coffee shop. Kabul is not a easy place to run coffee shop - there are bombings, soldiers, rebels and the Afghan culture to negotiate.
The coffee shop and Sunny become entwined in the lives of four women whose secrets and choices could destroy them all.

This is an interesting story uncovering the Afghan society and its rules and also the occupation of the American army. However some of the characters are very two dimensional and I found some of the plot very hard to believe. I was surprised to find that Rodriguez had lived in Kabul having a hair salon. I can only say that the parts of the book she had good knowledge of were excellent like the Afghan culture and its rules for women but the diplomatic arena was very weak and her description of Candace was very stereotypical.

All in all it is a light fun read with a bit of background about Afghanistan.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gr8ful VINE VOICE on December 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I tried. I truly did. I read nearly 200 pages before I came to the conclusion that I could not waste anymore of my time. The book was filled with cliches, incomplete sentences, unrealistic dialogue, and unbelievable scenarios. If I had not felt an obligation to read this as part of the Vine Program, I would have stopped and moved on to a better book by page 50.

I absolutely loved "A Thousand Splendid Suns," by Khaled Hosseini which depicted the hardships of life as a women in Afghanistan. I expected this book, written by a woman, to capture this as well as bring new insights, but alas it did not come close.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JohnO on January 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book has very little literary merit at all. The quality of the writing is poor, characters are poorly drawn and unconvincing and the relationships between them are tenuous. The plot almost trivial and could have taken place in one of many other locations in the world. Khaled Hosseini's "Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns" deal with the issues in this part of the world in a much more enlightened and moving way
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By deeper waters on December 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The plot has been adequately summarized so there is no need to say it again. The past and present reality of Afghanistan is a fascinating and complicated one that Deborah Rodriguez knows well. Her understanding of and compassion for the people, particularly women, is evident and unfortunately is better than her skills as a novelist. For me, the significant core issues were lost in the rather amateurish writing. The dialog (particularly from Sunny, Candace and the other non-Afghan characters did not ring true and the plot development was predictable and geared towards commercial rather than literary value. In fairness to the author, my expectation was that this would be the quality of Khaled Hosseini's books rather than a story that I would watch on the Lifetime channel. And it definitely was not.
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