Recently finished Patricia McArdle’s premiere novel “Farishta,” set in Afghanistan. Could have used tighter editing (lots of awkward dialogue) and I was shocked to see typos (shame on the publishers) but I enjoyed the fresh subject matter—an emotionally damaged diplomat is sent to Afghanistan in a last-ditch attempt to salvage her floundering career and comes face to face with past demons, however I found Farishta lacking in passion and emotionally unsatisfying. I don’t recommend reading it if you’re depressed.
Evelyn’s Toynton’s dark, depressing and inappropriately titled “The Oriental Wife” was another downer I couldn’t wait to finish. Naturally I wasn’t expecting lots of laughs in a book about Jews fleeing Hitler’s Nazi Germany, but I found the story completely lacking warmth and its characters thoroughly unlikeable. “The Wife” was a tough slough. Reminded me a bit of “The Invisible Bridge,” which I also disliked, but not as much.
After plowing through those three clunkers I checked out “Cleopatra” by Stacy Schiff and was immediately put off by the inappropriate art work on the cover (looks more like a 17th century French courtesan than Queen of the Nile), then I read the dust jacket and realized I couldn’t face yet another gloomy “woman empowered” tome with a sad, sad ending.
No disrespect to these fine writers, I guess I’m more in the mood for something lighter. Even my nemesis, Nora Ephron is starting to look good.