Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Penguin Group (May 22, 2007)
Setting: The story is set in Afghanistan from the early 1960s to early 2000s.
Main Characters: Mariam, Laila, Tariq and Rasheed
Summary: The story revolves around two women, Mariam and Laila, who hail from entirely different backgrounds, but whose lives intertwine when Laila, the younger woman, marries Rasheed as his second wife. Mariam is an illegitimate child of a successful businessman, Jalil, who grows up with her mother in the suburbs, and is married off to Rasheed at the age of 15, after her mother commits suicide as a result of her running away from home. She carries this guilt with her throughout her life and her marriage. After she suffers from her first miscarriage, Rasheed turns violent and abuses her. Despite several attempts, Mariam is unable to conceive and at this point, Laila is introduced into the picture. Laila is Mariam and Rasheed’s neighbour who grows up in a decent household and whose father is a firm believer in education for his daughter. Her character is also introduced alongside Tariq’s character, her childhood friend and love. Along the way, Laila’s brothers are killed in the war and her mother goes into recluse, causing her parents’ marriage to hit the rocks. At this point, Laila learns that Tariq’s family decides to leave Kabul for Pakistan to escape the war between Afghanistan and the Soviet. To preserve their memory for each other, Tariq and Laila make love for the first time, a forbidden act for an unmarried couple in Afghanistan.