Reviewed by M.Cristina Lanzi for Reader Views (01/14)
“Veiled Destiny” by Shirin Humzani is a long, richly textured romance filled with wonderful characters and an extraordinary sense of cultural detail.
This absorbing novel illustrates Pakistani culture through the medium of the family saga, describing the local traditions so well that it almost becomes a palpable experience. The setting is depicted in vivid detail: the people, the village and the traditions are all brought to life thanks to the author’s ability to create a range of fully-developed characters whose lives are filled with challenges and struggles.
Ehla is a ravishing Pakistani young lady who lives in a mountainous tribal region of Pakistan. Apparently her life seems serene, but this perceptive young woman fears that her father is planning to fix her up with a man she loathes. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg of lies and secretes that the family she used to worship kept from her since her childhood.
Ehla is born into a cultural environment that hasn’t changed for centuries; through the pages of the novel though, we discover that the world she sees as immutable is on the verge of upheaval.
“Veiled Destiny” didn’t get my whole attention from the beginning though. It took me several chapters to get familiar with the names, which are all very similar to each other and therefore hard to memorize, and with the idiomatic expressions and the outlandish attitudes of those Middle Eastern characters. Eventually, though, all the details, that in the beginning can easily distract the reader’s attention, become the main peculiarity of the book, since what emerges is an intriguing plot in a marvelous cultural setting. From this world steeped in ancient traditions comes a multi-layered novel of the lives, loves, secrets and strivings of two generations of Pakistani families.
“Veiled Destiny” is without doubt an absorbing and thought-provoking novel about courage, pride, love and hope; a very interesting read with lots of cultural information embedded in the storyline. The characters, as already mentioned, are well written and interesting, with convincing shades of personality, strengths and weaknesses.
Overall, I enjoyed reading “Veiled Destiny” by Shirin Humzani. The agony and worry of Ehla and the other main characters create a riveting story, made even more interesting by the Middle Eastern background. What I loved about this book is that, while reading a family saga intertwined with a love story, the reader can discover a far-off country and some aspects of its exotic culture.