Kamila Shamsie || A God in Every Stone

In A God in Every Stone two story lines meet: archeological exploration in Turkey and Pakistan and an uprising against the British in Peshawar. Shamsie jumps from character to character, from time to time and back and from story line to story line, thereby telling both stories from different perspectives and uniting them. Shamsie starts in 1914 when a young British woman, Vivian, is allowed to join an archeological dig in Turkey. Her return coincides with the start of WW1, thus giving Shamsie the chance to introduce Qayyum, a young Indian soldier who gets seriously wounded in Ypres. He returns to Peshawar, deeply disappointed in the British and himself and soon finds himself attracted to an Islamitic movement striving for peaceful independence. He cannot help a meeting ending in a bloody massacre when Pashans and British clash in 1930 in Peshawar. His younger brother Najeeb appears to have been killed during the uprising, he happens to be the pupil of Vivian our British archeologist who visited Peshawar during WW1. She found him to be hungry for knowledge and has planted the seed for history and archeology in him. When he invites her to finance a dig in Peshawar her arrival back in town collides with the uprising. At that late moment in the novel Shamsie introduces two new characters: sisters-in-law Zarina and Diwa. Two young women who watch the uprising from their balcony and get drawn into it. At that precise moment I felt that Shamsie lost control over her  subject matter: she tried to introduce two strong women, but left me feeling that I was reading about too impulsive adolescents who react on the spur of the moment.
In A God in Every Stone there is an abundance of beautiful descriptions of Turkey, Pakistan and the archeological finds. The characters, though serving their purpose, remain slightly on the stereotype side. By chosing to have the story explode at the end, Shamsie made me wish for the novel she could have written if she had restricted herself to Vivian instead of leading us to the battlegrounds of WO1 and the history of India / Pakistan. The beautiful and potent start of A God in Every Stone was that novel in the making. Don’t get me wrong, A God in Every Stone is a fine novel and definitely worthwhile reading, it’s just that I feel that this novel about Vivian, her love for archeology, her innocent betrayal of the man she loves and her growth to a truly independent woman, could have been so special.

God in every stone


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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One Response to Kamila Shamsie || A God in Every Stone

  1. Pingback: Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist Recap: Kamila Shamsie || A God in Every Stone | booksandliliane

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