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Merle

Merle

A Golden Age - Tahmima Anam Tahmima Anam is one of those rare authors who can write about normal, everyday events and have them be utterly compelling. I wasn't sure from the blurb if I would like this book, but was sucked in from the first page and overall really enjoyed it.

A Golden Age is the story of a family--told from the point-of-view of a mother with two teenage children--during Bangladesh's war for independence in 1971. It seems to be intended more as a universal story about families and war which happens to be set in Bangladesh, rather than a book about Bangladesh; the story is strong although there wasn't as much sense of place as I expected. But Anam pulls it off well, and coming into it knowing very little about Bangladesh I did learn some things.

A few reviewers have complained that readers don't actually witness much violence in this book; Rehana, the main character, is on the sidelines, allowing guerillas to use her home as a base and performing small acts of courage, not actively fighting. Which is the point: that the stories of people like Rehana are worth telling. Anam is an excellent storyteller and makes Rehana's tale fascinating; those who come in expecting lots of heart-pounding action may be disappointed, but I really liked Anam's decision here. I felt I could relate to some of the more frightening situations Rehana found herself in more so than is usual in books about war, precisely because the situations are more mundane.

For such a short book, the character development is very solid, with a fair bit of psychological depth, and the pacing and prose style are good. My only other complaint is that the romance subplot is not exactly compelling, but it gets little page time and the rest of the book is good enough that I'm willing to forgive that. I would certainly recommend this one.