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A Golden Age by Tahimima Anam
A Golden Age is an eye opening account of a time and place in history that I knew nothing about - Bangladesh's war of independence from Pakistan in the 1970's, Ms Anam has vividly captured the flavor and atmosphere of the general public at the time through the eyes of the main character and her family. This book conveys the deep divides that existed culturally and historically at that time as well as the triumph of the human spirit and gives an understanding and appreciation for the country of Bangladesh.
I simply could not put this book down. The lyrical and beautiful writing make you feel sympathetic towards the characters. It's about a mother's love during the 1971 Bangladesh war.
A Golden Age
While reading A Golden Age I kept making mental comparisons to what I read in the newspapers about the current war in Iraq - religious intolerance, cultural misunderstanding and families damaged by violence. I was very unfamiliar with any history of Bangladesh so I enjoyed learning about this part of the world as well as the story about Rehana, her family and her neighbors at this time in history. After finishing the book I went on line to learn more about Bangladesh and Pakistan.
A Tale of a Mother's Love
I would recommend this book for book clubs since there are a number of issues and challenges the different characters face that book club members may not all agree with, creating great topics for discussion.
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I became immersed in it. This beautiful story of a mother and her children really resonated with me. The lengths that Rehana will go to in order to protect her children, and how far she will venture from her comfort zone in order to do so, is a testament to the love that parents have for their children. This love is mirrored in her children's and eventually her love for the newly formed Bangladesh. A beautiful, sad tale of love and war and the lengths to which people will go for what is foremost in their hearts.
A Powerful New Author
A grieving young widow, Rehana, loses her small children to her brother-in-law after the death of her husband due to jealousy, position, and power. This event permeates through the rest of the story as their mother tries to make peace with the past and heal this wound. They leave Bangladesh for the safety of Lahore and she vows to get them back, only to plunge them into a perilous war as they come of age in a country that their mother loves and they feel compelled to defend. Written with subtle exquisite prose and very real characters, Rehana’s love for her children and her country make for a heart wrenching tale of choice, destiny, and the affairs of the maternal heart. Ms. Anam gives voice to a widow’s love for her country and her late husband, the perils of war, and words left unsaid. She speaks eloquently of the depth of a mother’s love for her children and where the tragic path of that love will lead them.
A Golden Age
A Golden Age depicts the Banglasdesh War of Independence factually and metaphorically through the lens of the protagonist, a young widow named Rehana Haque. The war provides the necessary preconditions for Rehana's emergence as an autonomous actor and truly interesting character, and although, that emergence takes place more toward the end of the novel, it was still an engrossing, rewarding read. It will appeal primarily to fans of historical fiction because the character development is so dependent on the historical context. Even so, the novel is quite an accomplishment for a first time novelist, and I can well imagine that as Tahmima Anam relies less on external context and more on internal, her work will become increasingly interesting and provocative.
A Golden Age
In the beginning, I was frustrated that there was not a glossary for many of the Urdu words and expressions. This omission was an annoying distraction from the total experience. Emotionally, however, the simple prose builds gradually to a dramatic and poignant tension, necessitating the need to finish the book in the wee hours of the night.
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
After finishing the novel. I happened to hear the author on NPR noting that the main character, Rehama, was based on her own grandmother's experience and that one of the other main characters was her uncle. Her grandmother actually did hide the weapons at the house and was confronted by the Pakistani army at gunpoint as they were looking for her son. It would have been an added bonus to have included that information at the end, making this chilling and uplifting story all the more poignant.
Book clubs should love this book, not only for the exploration of the depths of a mother's love,but also for a fascinating historical and intimate look at Bangladesh's quest for independence.
I started reading this book early this morning -- I thought I'd start it with my coffee -- maybe read a couple of chapters. It is now 4 p.m. and I just completed the book. I could not put it down!
Not only is this an illuminating treatise on the Bangladesh war, moreover it is a deeply satisfying tale of a mother's love for her children and the depths to which she will circumvent her instincts just to keep them safe. I couldn't help but wonder as I read this -- how many other acts of heroism in war are based on this selflessness of a parent for their child and not really based on what looks to be ardent patriotism?
The author's simple but keenly expressive writing provided the perfect background for this haunting tale of war. Other than the fact that the book ended far too soon for me, I could not find anything to criticize in this beautiful book.
From the review on the back of the book, it looks like this is the first of a trilogy of books from this writer. I am anxiously awaiting the next two.