Published by The Book Guild on July 28, 2019
Lahore – a city of secretive glamour, whispering elites, and sordid affairs. A city brought to its knees by terrorism.
Forty one-year old Mona has almost everything: money, friends, social status… everything except for freedom in the repressed Pakistani society. Languishing in her golden cage, she craves a sense of belonging… of love.
Desperate for emotional release, she turns to an indulgent friend who introduces her to an alternate world of glitter, glamour, covert affairs and drugs. There she meets Ali, a physically and emotionally wounded man, years younger than her.
Heady with love, she begins a delicate game of deceit that spirals out of control and threatens to shatter the deceptive facade of conservatism erected by Lahori society, and potentially destroy everything that Mona has ever held dear.
I am not sure how to start this review or where to start this review. Well one thing for sure, is the audiobook was just simply amazing. I thought that Esh Alladi’s narration was just pure magic. He bought Awais’ words alive, his narration, the different accents for the different characters were fab, he made it so much more enjoyable listening to his voice.
I did not know what to expect when I started In the Company of Strangers, I did not expect that I would grow so attached to Ali and Mona and worry what will happen to them and I did worry. In the final chapters, I had my heart in my throat and I was incredibly sad, I can’t say why or what because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but all you need to know was it made me sad.
I really don’t know how to review this, it is still too raw for me. It is a moving story of a woman in the constraints of her marriage, her social status, her world is rocked when the bombings start. She meets Ali, he is young and full of life but he too has his own sufferings. When we reach the full circle, it is an emotive and powerful circle.
You know when you pick this book up from the opening pages, it isn’t just about the thrill or the romance, there is so much more. The luscious backdrops of Mira’s parties, they are scandalous and colourful, are backdropped against the stark and coldness of the terrorism lurking just on the peripheral, a constant reminder of foreboding.
It really is hard to talk about the book because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. This is the book that opens with a shocking scene and pulls you in. There we meet and care about two people and these two people will stay with me. I think what I can say is that it is unfair. Gah, but I can’t even explain why I think it is unfair, it wrenched at my heart, pulled them tight and I felt that loss. I know I know I have repeated myself!
This is a beautiful debut and I will be keeping my eye out for more by Awais.
Until next time xxx
Thank you to Danielle for the tour invite and to ISIS audio for provide the audiobook in return for my honest and unbiased review
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: