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.
Aboulela's graceful writing style makes for a pleasurable read.
An often intriguing story, politically relevant and historically fascinating
[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
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 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.