‘No More Mulberries’ tells the story of Miriam, a Scottish midwife living in a small village in Afghanistan with her husband – a local man – and her two children.
Miriam loves her work, the people of her village and her adopted country, but is becoming increasingly frustrated with her marriage. Iqbal has changed since they met in Pakistan, and their return to his home village has soured thigs between them – Miriam feels that her life has been restricted and she no longer recognises the man she married.
Both have tragedies in their pasts that must be dealt with, traumas that have shaped them and that threaten to destroy what they have. Both must come to terms with the past, and agree on a future. They need to make some tough decisions.
This is a beautifully written book, very well-crafted. The author clearly loves her subject matter and has a great respect for Afghanistan and its people. This isn’t a rose-tinted account though – the grim realities of hard rural life are honestly portrayed, something the author does without being patronising or condescending.
The author has a real skill for creating an authentic sense of time and place – the descriptions of Afghanistan are really well done and a pleasure to read. And Miriam is a wonderful character – easy to like and sympathise with. I really cared about her and wanted her to make the right decisions. She isn’t perfect though and some of her decisions and motivations are questionable – but that’s what makes her realistic.
There were some parts I felt were a bit drawn out and could have been cut, but on the whole this was a really enjoyable and unusual read.