A debut novel about an arranged marriage in Pakistan clouded by hate, lies, deception and dishonor.
When her father’s friends arrive at her family’s estate in Pakistan, 20-year-old Ehla immediately suspects that matchmaking is afoot, although her parents firmly deny it. It’s a lie that begins Ehla’s tortuous journey. Also at the house is a family friend, Asfand, who, unbeknown to Ehla, married her when she was 5 years old, and now has the right to claim her for his own. However, her parents plan to give her away to another man, refusing to honor the previous arrangement, so Asfand embarks on a secret mission to kidnap Ehla. When he succeeds, an anguished Ehla struggles to unravel the many secrets her father has been keeping from her—secrets that have to do with death and ill-fated love. When the truth is finally revealed to all, hearts can heal and life can begin anew, releasing everyone from the shadows of long-ago lies and deception. Humzani does an excellent job of weaving the culture and traditions of Pakistan into the story, including details about clothes, ceremonies and the importance of honor. The author also shows how people become trapped by traditions that bind them. Some of the characters’ choices are brutal, immoral and even illegal, but the country’s traditions protect them not only from prosecution, but even from condemnation, no matter how deep the atrocity. The story’s pacing is slow at times, due in part to repetitive conversations that don’t advance the story. Angst and guilt are abundant, as characters rehash the same troubled emotions repeatedly. Readers may feel that much of the conflict could have been quickly resolved with simple conversations, which are delayed to prolong the drama.
A slow-paced novel that richly depicts Pakistani culture.