The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (P.S.)

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe - Gayle Tzemach Lemmon NO SPOILERS!!!

On completion: It didn't take me very long to read this book, that is simply because I found it very interesting. In fact it won over browsing GR! When a book doesn't draw me, I usually find something else to do; I find all sorts of other things that have to be done. I do this unconsciously. This book I read in three days!

What I liked about the book was that it provided a chance to experience life in Kabul under the Muzahideen, the Taliban and the bombing of Kabul after al Quaeda's terrorist attack at the World Trade Center in September 2001. Kamila lived through this all. You are there with her. Reading this book inspires hope for Aghanistan. It shows, through one woman's experiences, the ingenuity and fighting spirit of the people. If she can suceed as she has, so can others.

The prose style is clear and straightforward. This well serves the purpose of the book. Hopefully the excerpts below are adequate for you to judge for yourself.

The questions posed in the prologue are clearly answered. Kamila's life experiences, how she was raised by her father with his strong belief in the value of education, the trust he placed upon her, the hardship endured during these years and her inborn entrepreneurial talents shaped Kamila. All of these factors together made her the strong woman portrayed in this book, a woman fighting for her country. It is very important this book was written. Kamila deserves to be known and admired. What she has done inspires hope.

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Through 57% of the book:
Typical, the minute I say that the focus of the book is upon the business aspect of Kamila's enterprise, the focus changes. We are know learning about the different girls sewing or attending the sewing school initiated by Kamila. I like learning about their individual circumstances.

When Mahnaz heard through a cousin's friend about Kamila and the girls her age who were sewing together just a block away, she had jumped at the opportunity to join them. Two of her sisters, one of whom was determined to become a doctor when school was allowed again, quickly decided to come along once they heard how Mahnaz was enjoying herself. "It's not even like being in Kabul City," she told her siblings after her first day at Kamila's house. "It feels like a place where there is no Taliban at all, and no fighting. There are just all these women working together and talking and sharing stories. It's wonderful." '57%)

These teenagers who had been free to go out and associate with their friends, go to school and read books were suffocating under the Taliban regime. Wearing chadri was the least of their problems. Kamila's enterprise and school was heaven to them. The Afghan youngsters, both the boys and the girls, were forced into adulthood over night. Their maturity is praiseworthy. You miust read about Kamila's thirteen year-old brother Rahim! He was the sole male left in the house.

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56% through the book:
This book begins with a prolgue explaining why the book was written. What questions did it aim to answer. This is in fact very important in that these intentions guide the path the book is to follow. The author went to Afghanistan to write a report for the Financial Times to study the new generation of businesswomen who had emerged in the wake of Taliban takeover and to find for the Harvard School of Business a case study focused upn women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. Kamila Sidigi was a women who through her own business saved her own sisters, helped many other Afghan women and helped her country. What motivated Kamila to passionately fight for her country? This question too was to be answered. It is very important to keep the purpose of the book in mind when reading the book. The challenges Kamila faced to achieve her goals are revealing. The book is about how Kamila achieved these goals and what actually motivated her. I will again provide an excerpt from the book. These lines are found at the 55-56% marking:

"While we are sitting here, I think we need to talk about space." Saaman said, "I mean the fact that we are running out of it."

Already the work had expanded from the living room to the dining room, and it was threatening to spread further still into the last remaing family room. Dresses now hung from all sorts of unusual spaces, from doorframes and table corners to the backs of chairs. The front rooms of the family home had been transformed into a workshop that regularly ran fifteen hours a day at full capacity. Chairs forming a U filled the living room so that classes could be taught in the center and the girls could see their classmates' work, though some young women still preferred to sew sitting cross-legged on the floor. Hurricane lamps lit the rectangular room from each corner, since sunlight faded out of the sitting area in the late morning. When the dusk arrived, the girls....... I've been thinking about buying a generator from Lycée Myriam.


Sometimes the focus on matters of business are made at the expense of getting to know the trials and tribulations of the girls. I still do not know all the names of Kamila's four sister who live and work with her in the tailoring business. One name has yet to be mentioned! At the same time the book shows both how war intimately shapes women's lives and the resoucefullnes of which they are capable.

ETA: I was wrong, confused or whatever. I DO know the four sisters' names. I didn't think I should count in the older sister Malika! My error, not an omission from the book. There are however nine sisters. The four who do not live at home are not spoken of. I am a nut for keeping all the family members straight. The four unnamed sisters do NOT play a role in the story, so they need not be mentioned. I am just curious where they are and what they are doing..... How do they fit in?

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24% through the book:This is intersting, absorbing and at the moment I judge it much, much better than Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, which by the way I gave 5 stars. Afghan history before and during the Taliban takeover in 1996 is more clearly presented, and yet the story about Kamila Sidiqi and her family is equally engaging. It reads like a story but it is a biography! You learn about different cultural groups predominant in differnt areas of the country, customes, clothing and foods specific to Afghan life. You come to understand how the Taliban arose. After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, masses of children were left orphans. They were raised under the doctrine of the most strict Islamists. Sharia and purdah was the life they knew. They knew of nothing else. To understand where we stand today with Afghanistan you have to understand its past. You must also know that once in the 1960s and 1970s life was cosmopolitan. Under Mohammad Daoud Khan, Afghanistan was a republic, the king had been overthrown. Soon thereafter came the Soviets, then the Mujahideen, the civil war, the Taliban...... This history is well told. Clearly, precisely and engagingly - with relevance to the Sidigi family. The book is about this family and the women who survived under the Taliban. They were educated women. Several were teachers with diplomas in hand. The book strives to show how they survived and from where they drew their strength to fight for a modern, free Afghanistan. Free for women as well as men. An Afghanistan whers women may go to school, get the jobs they choose and wear the clothes of their choice. The last was actually the least important. Under the Taliban the women were left to their own resources. The men had to leave. Leave or die. I have only read 24% of this egalley. It is fascinating and engaging and it is all true.

Here follows a quote so you can judge for yourself if the subject matter and prose style fits you as much as it does me. This following concerns the women of the Sidigi family. There were nine girls in this family, only two boys. The following excerpt is found 12% through the egalley:

They had grown up in the capital long after Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud Khan had embraced the voluntary unveiling of his countrywomaen in the 1950s. King Amanullah Khan had attempted this reform unsuccessfully thirty years earlier, but it wasn't until 1959, when the prime minister's own wife appeared at a national independence day celebration wearing a headscarf rather than the full chadri, that the change finally took hold. That one gesture stunded the crowd and marked a cultural turning point in the capital. Kabul's next generation of women had gone on to become teachers, factory workers, doctors and civil servants; they went to work with their heads loosely covered and their faces exposed. Before today many had never had reason to wear or even own the full veils of their grandmothers' generation.

Suddenly the tide had rturned again......


Now this is reading. I am not struggling at all. I am so glad I quit [b:Mistress of the Art of Death|2206449|Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, #1)|Ariana Franklin|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51j2tIGwqCL._SL75_.jpg|2443651]. I tried to like that, but I couldn't.