You know the feeling, I’m sure, of being positively enthralled by a wonderful book, hooked on every word and drunk with literary satisfaction. This kind of a book, whose plot and characters and scenery are so blissfully intoxicating, often leaves you feeling a little lost and sad when you finally finish its last page. You just want more. Some books however, can have quite the opposite effect; a sigh of relief when you finally reach its end. The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul was, for me personally, an example of the latter kind of reading experience.
Set in modern-day, war-torn Afghanistan, Deborah Rodriguez’s novel is a quaint tale of five women and their interconnecting journeys of love, friendship and the suppression of women. Isabel, Candace, Yazmina, Halajan and Sunny, five extraordinary women from wildly contrasting corners of the globe, meet under the roof of Sunny’s coffee shop in Kabul. The cafe serves regular coffee and ordinary meals but fosters love, revolution and the wonderful power of women united for a common cause. It’s safe (or as safe as a place can be in Afghanistan), it’s warm and it becomes home to these five extraordinary ladies whose feelings and ambitions push the boundaries of the Afghani ideas of women’s place in society.
The general concept of this novel sounds wonderfully heart-warming and thought-provoking which was precisely why I picked it up in the first place. And I suppose it partially was. I can acknowledge that the girls’ stories were lovely but, in all honesty, I found their to be a lack of the promised profundity. In theory, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, is a powerful expose of feminism but in execution, it lacked the depth of relationships and strength of atmosphere that I feel defines a truly great work of fiction. While it was a perfectly fine book for casual reading, I just couldn’t “get into it.” Lacking that special something that earns a novel a place on my favourites list, I cannot describe this book as exceptional but I do recommend it to women with an interest in women and to anyone in need of a light read.
If you’ve read The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and have an opinion of it that differs from mine, do comment and share your own thoughts. I know different books offer different things to each reader so while I was slightly disappointed, you may have adored every page. I want to hear your thoughts! Free Page Numbers is a literary forum; a place for discussion, opinions, suggestions and recommendations! Join the madness!