What’s it all about?:
An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.
In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.
Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
What did WE think?:
CHRISSI: And the Mountains Echoed begins with Saboor and his children, Abdullah and Pari, and a heartbreaking event which divides them. Discuss the structure of the novel – how effectively are each of the stories linked?
BETH: There are a lot of storylines within this novel which I didn’t realise at first were connected until a character showed up who was the relative or friend of the character in the previous chapter and things would automatically click. I did love that we got to know a bit more about certain characters who had relatively minor roles previously and I thought everything slotted together perfectly. At first, I assumed that I would only be learning about Saboor, Abdullah and Pari and was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were a variety of characters to enjoy.
BETH: Which parts of this novel did you find most enjoyable?
CHRISSI: I absolutely loved the story at the beginning. I found it immediately engaging. I have to say one of my favourite elements of this story was the beautiful writing. I find the author has such an amazing way with words that even if I’m not completely loving the story, I’m in love with the way in which it is told.
CHRISSI: What did you make of the different types of media used in And The Mountains Echoed? E.g. the interview transcript and letters.
BETH: I think I could have seen a lot more of these to be honest! I do enjoy any different way of telling a tale and thought the interview transcript and letters was a refreshing and interesting way to tell parts of the story. It also gives the reader a bit more of an insight into a character’s particular way of thinking and/or behaving which can be compelling.
BETH: How did you think the relationships between siblings and between families were explored?
CHRISSI: I thought the relationships between siblings were at the core of this story. It was a very real look at how sibling relationships can bring you much joy, but also a lot of heartbreak. I thought it was an incredibly refreshing take on just how important your siblings are in your life.
CHRISSI: The story begins in Afghanistan, moves from France to Greece, and ends in America. Many of the characters in the book are displaced. Discuss the theme of exile in the novel.
BETH: I think the theme of exile begins right from the very first pages of this novel. Saboor is walking alone through the desert with his two children, Abdullah and Pari and the reader is left feeling slightly unsure about where they are travelling to and why. Separations occur throughout the novel – between siblings, between whole families and even cross over to other countries like France, Greece and America. Situations are not always resolved in a perfect manner, but I think all the whole this novel evokes strong imagery on the importance of family.
BETH: What did you think of the character of Nila and how her life ended up?
CHRISSI: I felt sorry for Nila. It’s hard to describe why without completing spoiling the story. I hated how Nila was treated. Her marriage certainly seemed to me, like it was a marriage for convenience, it was certainly keeping up appearances. I felt resentful of Nila’s father, for being so disapproving of Nila’s talent. Nila expressed her female desire and that was just too controversial for the time and culture she was living in. Nila’s relationship with her own writing is a struggle throughout her life. I was quite satisfied with how Nila’s life ended up, even though I think it had elements of sadness. I think she had an experience that not many Afghan women had available to them.
CHRISSI: I know you’ve read A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author, you haven’t yet read The Kite Runner, does your experience reading And The Mountains Echoed make you want to ‘bump’ it?
BETH: Most definitely! I know you loved The Kite Runner and I’ve been making you slightly crazy not having read it yet but I plan to read it very shortly. The author has such a beautiful way with words that reading one of his books feels like a real treat.
BETH: I found this book to be quite an emotional read. How did it feel for you emotion-wise?
CHRISSI: I agree that it was an emotional read. I think the writing plays a huge part in that. It’s incredibly lyrical and touching. I felt a wide range of emotions. I think the author really tugs at your heartstrings!
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
BETH’s Star Rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’s Star Rating (out of 5):