Thursday, 3 September 2015


4.5 out of 5 stars

Family drama set in Afghanistan

On Amazon UK HERE

This was one of those books that stayed with me when I wasn't reading it; the emotions of the main characters, Miriam and Iqbal, were so well painted.

Jawad was the love of Miriam's life; they met in her hometown in Scotland and struggled against initial family opposition to marry, after which they had a son and set up home and a medical practice in his native Afghanistan.  At the beginning of the novel Jawad is dead, and Miriam's second marriage to Iqbal, a doctor, is causing them both problems ~ for Iqbal, the shadow of Miriam's first husband, his need to conform to the culture of the village in which he grew up, the stigma attached to his childhood leprosy.  Miriam struggles with the restrictions placed on her by Iqbal's place in society, and her rose tinted memories of her ex-husband.

This book gave me great insight into the culture of rural Afghanistan, not a country I knew much about at all.  I was surprised by how normal life went on despite all the conflict of the time (it's set in 1995).  What struck me most was how stifling village life appeared to be, with everyone knowing everyone else's business and having plenty to say about it!  My sympathies lay more with Iqbal than with Miriam, I must say; her initial reason for marrying him (ie, to get back to Afghanistan, rather than love) and the fact that she was still in love with a dead man must have been apparent to him, yet she expected him to behave in a way that would make her happy, never thinking about what it might cost him.  I did find her pain over the loss of Jawad heartbreaking, though.

The novel is very well paced, with detail about the culture woven subtly into the main story.  I found it hard at first to keep up with all the different characters, but this was partly because the names were not familiar to me.  I felt sad when I finished it, and it made me want to read more about the people.  Recommended!


  1. Terry, thank you so much for this. I had no idea you were reading No More Mulberries. I saw your tweet a few minutes agao. I'm so pleased you enjoyed NMMs. Interesting what you say about your sympathies being more for Iqbal. When I started to write the book my sympathies lay very much with Miriam but then I started to hear Iqbal's voice and his story, and realised how much baggage he was carrying around and how hard he was trying to do what he knew was right.
    Many thanks.

    1. Ah, it's good when reviews come as a surprise, isn't it?! Yes, it was great, I'm still thinking about it.

      I started really feeling for Iqbal as soon as I saw his point of view! I thought Miriam was presuming too much, and never thought about what he needed :)

    2. It was a lovely surprise.
      Writing from Iqbal's point of view totally changed the book!

    3. I can imagine - I hadn't expected it. He had this whole world going on in his head about which she knew nothing, didn't he! :)

  2. I didn't either - and I invented him!

  3. Lovely review and a book which sounds like it brings lots of thoughts to the table of life.