This is some book. In essence it's the life story of one woman, Mariam, as she lives and suffers the turbulent recent history of Afghanistan. Works well as a history of the country, as it allows you to see how the successive regime changes impact on the daily life of this women and her family. Her family includes her husband's next wife and the way that the two women come to shift their allegiances as life becomes successively more difficult. The women aren't great heroic characters, they're believable women stuck in an unbelievably bad situation and just trying to survive. The ending is incredibly sad, and leaves a whole lot of questions about how the life Mariam lead might have been different had she made a different decision at several points in the book. At least one missed opportunity might have made a huge difference to her, but she never found out. After the spiral of depression, however, it ends in a hopeful manner, with an eye to the future. Does make you wonder what the next chapter might be, seeing that Afghanistan is not exactly a stable or peaceful country and that the various tribes and factions that have fought over the country are still within the country.