An American diplomat is forced to confront the devastation of her past when she is assigned to remote northern Afghanistan.
Twenty-one years ago, diplomat Angela Morgan witnessed the death of her husband during the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Devastated by her loss, she fled back to America, where she hid in the backwaters of the State Department and avoided the high-profile postings that would advance her career. Now, with that career about to dead-end and no true connections at home, she must take the one assignment available-at a remote British army outpost in northern Afghanistan. Unwelcome among the soldiers and unaccepted by the local government and warlords, Angela has to fight to earn the respect of her colleagues, especially the enigmatic Mark Davies, a British major who is by turns her staunchest ally and her fiercest critic. Frustrated at her inability to contribute to the nation’s reconstruction, Angela slips out of camp disguised in a burka to provide aid to the refugees in the war-torn region. She becomes their farishta, or “angel,” in the local Dari language-and discovers a new purpose for her life, a way to finally put her grief behind her.
Drawing on the experiences of the author as a diplomat in Afghanistan, Farishta is a deeply moving and fast-paced story of a woman struggling to move beyond a past trauma, and finding a new community, a new love, and a new sense of self in the process.
Farishta by Patricia McArdle is a beautiful, at times heartbreaking and inspirational, look at life inside Afghanistan. In 1983 Angela Morgan’s husband Tom was killed in the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, she witnessed the blast and a few days later gave birth to their stillborn child. For the next twenty one years, Angela went through the motions of life and at the age of 47 was facing losing her job if she was not promoted, which meant an overseas assignment. While aiming for London, she was instead placed in Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan where she would serve a year with the British PRT. McArdle writes a beautifully woven story of a woman overcoming her fears and isolation, facing numerous obstacles including being female and an American in a British PRT as well as practising linguistic deception. Farishta, which means angel in Dari, not only is a close translation to the name Angela, but also for the works she does for the refugees in Afghanistan. McArdle takes the reader deep into Afghanistan and gives the reader a vivid picture of how beautiful the country was and in places still is, conveys the culture in meticulous detail and provides the reader with a stellar cast of characters. I personally found myself rooting for Angela and the women of Afghanistan as well as Angela’s “crew”, Fuzzy, Jenkins, Rahim, Nilofar, and Jeef. So vivid are the characters that when Henry’s tour was up, I was quite sad to see him leave. Farishta drew me in from the first sentence and held my attention until the last. I look forward to future works by Patricia McArdle and am very grateful for having this intimate insight into Afghanistan. I would without reservation recommend Farishta to all readers and book discussion groups.
About the Author:
Patricia McArdle is a retired American diplomat. During her career, she was posted around the world, including northern Afghanistan.
I received a complimentary ARC of Farishta by Patricia McArdle from Riverhead Books to offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.