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An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
But that's another story. In this book, Chesler reveals something surprising about herself. She, foolishly it turned out, married an Afghan national when she was a young college woman, and went with him to his native Afghanistan. Once there, her husband turned into another person altogether, expecting Chesler to convert to Islam and become a compliant, burka-wearing wife. While she developed a deep regard for the landscape and its historical importance, she also developed a deep mistrust of her husband and his family. She was essentially a prisoner in "purdah," a term that refers to the drastic separation of women from the world. She lived cut off from everyone except the other women in her family, including the three wives of her polygamous father-in-law, who ruled the roost with an iron hand. She nearly starved, then contracted hepatitis, was forcibly impregnated by her husband and denied medical care. It's amazing she survived. Chesler's descriptions of that time and place in her life are at once oddly lyrical and chilling.Read more ›
The book is marketed as a memoir, but those looking for a lot of detail and insight should be warned that little is offered. I was hoping to learn about the experience of a young New York Jewish woman marrying an Islamic man and moving with him to Afghanistan. I was disappointed to discover that Chesler provides little detail about her own experience, and no context for understanding the decisions she made. (She still seems bewildered by her feelings and behavior, even 50 years later.) There is essentially no description of her life before she met Abdul-Kareem, other than the mention that she grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family. No information is shared about her own family-of-origin, which I found perplexing, especially given her training as a psychotherapist. I learned much more about her early years and her family from the brief Wikipedia entry than from her memoir.
The story starts with her courtship and marriage, and it quickly moves to her ordeal living with his extended family in Kabul. (I gather that she was there only a few months.) She says he became a different person in Afghanistan; his treatment of her ranged from neglect to abuse. Throughout the book, she tries to come to terms with her husband's transformation. I found it quite shocking that a woman who devoted her career to feminism could rationalize so much of her husband's misogynistic behavior as culturally inevitable and therefore somehow not his fault.Read more ›
Let's deal with the negatives first. This is an extremely limited memoir that focuses on ten weeks in the author's life. The reader expects to find background information of her earlier life: her parents, childhood situations, the motivations that led her to her choices as a young adult. Almost nothing is revealed to us. Similarly, she doesn't address her life's details after returning to America. The essence of a memoir is an intimate story covering life's events. The reader's hungry anticipation of an intimate story is akin to going to a grand buffet, only to discover the food is an illusion. As a memoir, this is a failure.
There is a lovely expression in Yiddish, loosely translated; with one backside, you can't dance at two weddings. It describes the dual roles this book is trying to fill. It contains a scholarly work's bibliography of close to 200 references and many are cited within the book. This detracts from the cozy readability of a memoir.
Reading an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC), I know that changes are still to be made. Text may change and photos appearing in black and white may be in color in the finalized print edition. Yet, the book's cover is an absurdity. It depicts a tall, blonde woman; much unlike the author. It's meant to sell books of fiction, not of an autobiographical nature. This bothers me. Coupled with the inappropriate categorizing of this as a memoir, I feel duped.
Now for the positives. Dr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting story, but it left me with more questions than answers. How did her family let her do this? And once she was there did they try to help her? Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michele W
Very well written book with notable references. In a way I felt the title was somewhat of a come on as she was in Kabul a relatively short time. Read morePublished 5 months ago by NCgrandma
Very interesting but a bit deceiving. I was expecting a memoir about an Americam woman who had spent years as an Afghan bride. Ms. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mary A. Ragusa
My Book Club chose to read this book for their November meeting. We rate books 1-5. The average score of the 10 book club women voting was 3.4. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Riley1
Too much historical & religious detail for me, Dry and boring.Published 11 months ago by Margaret L Fenley
I found it factual but very dry and hard to get through. My bookclub read this and I was the only one who finished it. It was repetitive of facts.Published 11 months ago by Marcia J Greenwood
Well researched memoir but the author spent too much time quoting other books and authors.Published 12 months ago by Rema Goldstein
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