Review: The Moonlit Cage by Linda Holeman


“I have always been told I was wicked…”

This is the first book I’ve read by Linda Holeman and it was good enough to make me want to read more of her work.
I love books that help me to learn about other times and other places: in The Moonlit Cage, Holeman introduces us to life in 19th century Afghanistan. Not being an expert in Afghan history or culture, I have no idea how accurate her descriptions are, but the book seems very well-researched to me. A glossary of unfamiliar Dari and Pashto words is included at the back of the book, but I didn’t feel the need to refer to this very often as most of the words were explained as we encountered them in the text.
 
 The story is narrated by Darya, a young Afghan girl. All her life Darya has refused to conform to others’ expectations and secretly dreams of one day finding freedom. When her father’s second wife, Sulima, puts a curse on her, Darya is forced to leave her village and is sold into marriage with the son of a nomadic chief. However, when her husband learns about the curse and threatens to kill her, she runs away again. As she escapes through the Hindu Kush mountains, she meets David Ingram and begins a journey which takes her first to India and then to London.
 

I really enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down. The first two thirds, which took place in Afghanistan and India, were fascinating, though I didn’t like the way the storyline developed after Darya’s arrival in England. The only other problem I had with the book was that while Darya was an interesting, likeable character, I found David Ingram, as the hero of the story, quite boring and two-dimensional.I admired the way Darya’s strength and courage helped her to survive all kinds of pain and abuse.

After reading the first couple of chapters I decided that this book would count towards the Women Unbound reading challenge. Throughout the entire story, Darya constantly questions why she has to behave in a certain way just because she’s a woman and challenges the belief that daughters are worthless and only sons are of value.
 
I knew nothing about this book until I found it in the library (on the “H” shelf next to Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner which coincidentally is also set in Afghanistan) so I was surprised by how good it was. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys long historical fiction novels…but you can prepare to be saddened and shocked by Darya’s story.
 
Recommended
Genre: Historical Fiction/Pages: 544/Publisher: Headline Review/Year: 2006/Source: Library book

One thought on “Review: The Moonlit Cage by Linda Holeman

  1. Aarti says:

    I love when you find good books so serendipitously like that! But it makes me sad about all the great books that aren’t ever picked up. I’m glad you found this one- it sounds really lovely. And how interesting that two Afghani books were right next to each other.

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