A Thousand Splendid Suns
The novel, set in Afghanistan in the period between 1964 and 2003, revolves around two heroines, Mariam and Laila.
At the beginning of the story Mariam is a plain little girl with her unmarried mother in a village in western Afghanistan. Her mother is a depressed, frustrated woman whose bitterness and pessimism affects Mariam 's hope and expectations in life. Her father only pretends to be loving and kind-earthed, but in reality he refuses to accept his own responsibilities as a father. When Mariam 's mother commits suicide he marries the girl off to an older man, Rasheed, ugly both
physically and in character, who soon turns to be the "villain" of the story. When, after several miscarriages, it becomes dear that Mariam cannot have children, he decides to punish her as a recluse and inflicting all sorts of humiliations on her. Laila is quite different from Mariam. She is very pretty, and her parents bring her up with love. Her father is a high school teacher and he constantly encourages her in terms of her education and spiritual independence. Laila has
a very special friend, Tariq. An intelligent , brave and handsome boy, Tariq lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine at the age of five , but he does not allow his handicap to condition his life. The two young people soon discover they are in love, and one August afternoon, just before Tariq leaves for Pakistan with his parents to escape the war, they have an intense, wonderful moment of love. Two weeks later , Laila's serene life is married by tragedy. A rocket falls on her house and kills her parents, and the girl , alone injured, finds shelter in Rasheed and Mariam's neighboring home. It is not long before she discovers that she is pregnant , and also learns that Tariq is dead. In despair, and to avoid the scandal of becoming an unmarried mother, she agrees to marry Rasheed who is eager for a young and attractive second wife, even if Mariam's feelings are hurt and she desperately opposes the idea.
When Tariq's child is born Rasheed is bitterly disappointed to find that it is a girl, and now Laila too experiences ill-treatment and humiliation. It is point that Mariam's attitude to her changes, and the two women soon become allies and friends. In spite of the birth of a second child - a boy this time - Rasheed grows more and more despotic and violent , and regularly beats both wives; in a fit of rageso savage that he almost strangles Laila , and to save her Mariam kills him. Unespectedly Tariq makes his first appearance , and we learn that Rasheed had paid a man to say he was dead so that Laila would have no other choice rather than to marry him. Laila and Tariq are finally reunited while Mariam,
who admits to Rasheed'd murder to protect Laila from police investigation, is arrested and executed.