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In A Singular Hostage and A Beggar at the Gate, Thalassa Ali introduced us to the lush, intriguing world of nineteenth-century British India—and to Mariana Givens, a brave, beautiful Englishwoman. Now, as vengeful Afghan tribesmen close in, Mariana must face the repercussions of her marriage to a Punjabi Muslim, and choose between the people she calls her own—and the life that owns her heart.Mariana Givens aches to return to the rose-scented city of Lahore, home of Hassan Ali Khan, the Muslim stranger she has come to love, his mystical family, and his prescient little son. But her own reckless behavior has sent her into exile at the British cantonment near Kabul, on the eve of the First Afghan War. There, she embarks on a dangerous double life, pretending to be a proper young Victorian lady while secretly traveling Kabul’s violent, fascinating streets to visit the Sufi seer who possesses the answers she needs.But the mystic’s help comes with a price, and her family wants her to marry a British officer. As Afghanistan descends into violence and her hopes of rescue fade, Mariana must make a fateful decision: can she abandon her old life and allow herself to be drawn toward her destiny—whatever it may be?From the Trade Paperback edition.read more
This is the third and final title in Thalassa Ali's historical fiction series that began with "A Singular Hostage," and continued with "A Beggar at the Gate." The series follows the real-life follies of the British empire's incursions into India and, finally, Afghanistan in the 19th century. This third book is harder to read, because it traces the catastrophic attempt of the British to withdraw from Kabul, but it does give a vivid look at the contrast between East and West at this time. Wonderful historical detail and the hint of a happy ending help the book along. Mariana Givens was an appealing and realistic character to mold the story around: how many of us could have defied societal expectations with more courage? The series offers MUCH to think about with regard to western assumptions about Afghanistan.read more
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The final installment of Thalassa's Paradise Trilogy (following A Singular Hostage and A Beggar at the Gate) finds Mariana Givens living within the confines of the British cantonment at Kabul in 1841, on the eve of the first Afghan war. An assassination attempt in Lahore thwarted by her husband, Hassan Ali Khan (son of a Sufi sheikh), has forced Mariana to leave Lahore, abandoning Hassan (and her stepson, Saboor). Mariana lives miserably in an English microsociety that doesn't recognize her marriage, full of dinner parties and eager suitors. Hassan, meanwhile, is recovering slowly from wounds, and his family is second-guessing Mariana's intentions. As tension escalates between the British (who have deposed the Afghan king, Amir Dost Muhammad, and installed a more friendly rival, Shah Shuja) and the Afghans (who are preparing to attack the British army and its 10,000 "camp followers"), Mariana faces dangerous choices. As in the other books, Ali does a highly credible job creating the clannish atmospheres of the British and Sufi subcultures, and makes the strictures that Mariana and Hassan face (and those of their servants) palpable. The detail she offers (including mystic writings from a variety of traditions) is nicely wedded to the plot, which moves with brisk and engaging efficiency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved