Julie R. (Jefferson, ME)
A Cup of Friendship
This book centers around more than wine aka "tea" and friendship. To be sure, Sunny, the main character, has created a place where both Afghans and visitors can relax and share cultures and friendship, and the "tea" house becomes a central part of the setting. However, the author's interwoven plot adds to the reader's insight into the harsh reality of the Afghans' daily living in light of the threat of Taliban aggression. In addition, as Sunny and her friends persevere in protecting the lives of those in danger, the mystery and suspense centered on the lives of the characters sustain the readers' interest to the end. This is a story of the affirmation of love between the clash of religious traditions and the characters' inner values. In my opinion, the title does not reflect the deeper themes of the book.
Ariel F. (Madison, WI)
A Cup of Friendship
I was happy to read the first book of fiction, “A Cup of Friendship”, by Deborah Rodriguez. Rodriguez, is also the author of the non-fiction book “Kabul Beauty School”. Several years ago, I read her nonfiction work. I did feel that despite one being a work of fiction and one being nonfiction, they were similar.
I found this book to be an easy, fast moving read. I enjoyed reading this book about contemporary Afghanistan. For me, this novel was thought provoking. How I value the freedom that I as a woman have. At times, I felt as if I was actually in the coffee shop witnessing some of the events as they were happening. The novel deals with Afghani issues and culture regarding the roles women, friendship, family, country decisions and of course, some romance. While reading the novel, I felt love and sympathy for three of the main characters, Sunny, Yazmina and Halajan.
Having spent some time in Azerbaijan, I am aware of some of the elements of being a Muslim and the role of women in Muslim culture. I gained more information about Muslims in this novel.
I highly recommend this book.
Joan V. (Miller Place, NY)
A Cup of Friendship
This book immediately gets your attention. It's a fast read and enjoyable.
Set in current day Kabul it centers around the lives of five women: Sunny an American and owner of a coffee house; Connie, also an American, who is looking for love; Isabel, a British journalist and two Afghani women Halajan – owner of the building and Jazmina both of who work in the café.
The stories of other Afghani women are woven throughout the book and the fear of the Taliban regaining power is strongly felt.
I would have given this book a higher rating except that it often gravitates into the 'romance' novel genre. Too many cliques of eyes meeting across a room, unspoken longings and shortness of breath, plus a few sex scenes are unnecessary.
The theme of survival, strong women, and a positive look at the Muslim religion overcame some of the weaknesses in this book.
Lisa G. (Riverwoods, IL)
A Cup of Tea: A Novel or Kabul Beauty School redux
I enjoyed the book for what it was and tried not to think about all the accusations of Rodriguez's personal gain after The Kabul Beauty School. It basically tells the same story with a fictional cast of characters and is an easy read. However, if a book group has discussed her first book I would say this one can be passed on. It is just too similar. The title of the book reminds us it is a novel for good reason. A feature film on the beauty school is reportedly in the works besides the documentary which was released in 2004. This new book on top of the first one is definite overkill. But if you missed the first book and don't plan on seeing the movie, this is a nice read.
Virginia B. (Foster, RI)
Love in Kabul
Rodriguez’s first novel, A Cup O Friendship is a page-turner about love of family, country, tradition and romantic love. Author of the memoir The Kabul Beauty School, she lived in Afghanistan and her convincing descriptions of the colors, sounds, and smells of the streets of Kabul after Hamid Karzai is “elected” president show it. The wonderfully drawn women characters are struggling to find meaning in their lives or to survive in a society where rights for women are nearly non-existent and the punishment for challenging tradition is incredibly harsh. You will appreciate this novel if you found The Book Seller of Kabul or A Thousand Splendid Suns interesting or enjoy love stories. Although the dialog and circumstances seemed contrived sometimes, I would definitely recommend this book.