The passages are arresting in their descriptiveness, with beautiful pockets of calm in which the spiritual journey, as advocated by Shamil's Sufi teacher, is explored.
[A] treat - a novel that recreates the fascinating story of the rebel of the Caucasus, Imam Shamil, a 19th-century warrior who battled to defend his home against the invading Russians and united the Muslims of the region under his iconic leadership. Weaving the story of his relationship with a Georgian princess he kidnapped into a more contemporary story of mistaken terrorism, we learn much about the nature of loss, the legacy of exile and the meaning of home at a time in our world when all three are high in our minds
Aboulela's graceful writing style makes for a pleasurable read.
An often intriguing story, politically relevant and historically fascinating
One of Aboulela's aims - apart from telling a fascinating story with the verve and assurance of a natural novelist - is surely to present a sympathetic picture of Islam to a western readership more accustomed to being what, for devout Muslims, is a distorted and reprehensible version of their faith.
The reader flicks back and forth through time, gleaning pleasure and enlightenment through each of the doorways as they go, finishing with a head filled with different nuances on questions politicians demand we reflect upon.