Category: Poppy Field Reviews
Notable Reviews and Awards
C.R. Hurst TOP 500 AMAZON REVIEWER
Format: Kindle Edition
How do you live a full life when given little freedom? How do you create a secure home in a land ravaged by war? How can you forgive infidelity? How can you continue living when your dreams have died? These questions lie at the heart of The Poppy Field Diary. Spanning the years from 1962 to 2002, the novel follows the 40 year journey of an Afghan woman who narrates the story of her troubled marriage. Its author, Carey Richard, captures the beauty and tragedy of this woman’s life and country with such exquisite imagery and sensitivity that I think it the best fiction title I have read this year.
What impresses me the most about The Poppy Field Diary is that it presents a woman’s perspective written convincingly by a man. The introspection and compassion illustrated by the author surprised me. I never once doubted the credibility of his narration and even think that the perspective may have allowed him an objectivity rarely seen in women’s fiction, where men are often portrayed as one dimensional rogues. That is not the case here. The husband though flawed is sympathetic, as are all the characters in The Poppy Field Diary.
Another aspect of the novel that I find especially effective is how easily Richard blends the personal and political. The story’s backdrop features a country in turmoil. From corrupt warlords who gain power by western influence to the rise of the Taliban, the reader sees the political struggles of Afghanistan through a woman’s eyes. She stands witness as her family and her country struggle for survival amid the horror of endless war. Yet the story is not a political one but is instead one woman’s personal journey to a state of grace, where forgiveness can transcend even the darkest of lies. The Poppy Field Diary is not a book I will forget.
Home Is Where the Wine Is Book Blog
Format: Kindle Edition
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Move over ladies. This man knows how to write romance! Compelling, beautiful, emotional . . . one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading all year!
The writing is absolutely breathtaking. Carey takes you on a journey that you will never want to be over. I consumed this book in a little over a day and it’s not a light read people. Half romance, half history lesson. You can tell the author is very educated in the Afghan culture. I loved the poems at the end of each chapter.
This is a story of love, betrayal, forgiveness and falling in love again. This is a very difficult in-depth review to write so please bare with me.
1962, in the midst of Afghanistan’s golden era was a young girl who spent her days lounging in a poppy field reading her books. That’s where she was truly the happiest, where she was truly at peace, that is where she found love.
I wanted to run, but was afraid. I wanted to call to him but was ashamed. I wanted him to call to me but prayed he would not. I felt a peculiar pounding in my breast, and my face warmed in a startled flush. I hid behind a tree, begging God to send him away and hoping God would not hear my prayer. And suddenly he stood before me, smiling gazing intently. He kept a respectful distance and said in a gentle voice, “Hello, little one.”
I called him my husband before I even knew his name.
Her mother was her confidant and her best friend. After her father died she was the one who educated her and shared her wisdom.
“The terror of love,” she said. “Love is an wild and untamed beast that will frighten but fascinate you. It will tear you apart and make you strong It will hold you captive and set you free. It is something to fear and something to embrace. It will destroy you or make you into something that you never thought you could be. It is the greatest risk of life and the greatest reward. Yes, it is terrifying.”
Amir was kind and loving. They immediately fell madly in love and wed soon after. She was only seventeen, a virgin, and as was custom, she moved to her husbands compound where they raised horses. She missed her mother so but quickly became friends with her mother-in-law. Time passed and she bore him three sons. The boys were nurtured and loved by their mother but as soon as they were old enough her husband forced them into the world of horses and weapons. She resented him for taking their youth away from them.
Fast forward a few years when the Russians invaded Afghanistan. Her husband started selling weapons, opium and horses to both sides. He became a very powerful and wealthy man in the process and moved them to their own compound in Kabul.
She felt she was slowly losing the man she fell in love with and the man she called husband was becoming a stranger. While the war rages on she learns of her husband’s betrayal. She is left feeling inadequate, distraught, angry, sad, confused…
No knife cuts as deep as the one held in the hand of a lover, I thought. The wound of a lover is fatal. There is no recovery from such a wound. And the accusing voices quieted. As my husband sank into his own dark well of sorrow. I struggled to resolve my wordless contradictions. There is no one left to forgive an unfaithful lover, I thought. Because the one that must forgive is dead and she is forgotten.
With one son in the war and the other two sent to safety with relatives in Pakistan she is faced with the fact that she is alone and bitter. Unable to forgive, she is but a mere shell of her once vibrant former self. Forced to live with a man that doesn’t love her in a place that is not her home.
As the years pass, she finds solitude in her garden and books and wants very much to rid her heart of bitterness and learn to forgive and love her husband again.
It felt wrong to feel ashamed but I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed that I had abandoned hope. I felt ashamed that I had slapped him that day in the car as we drove through the battlefield. I was torn between my constant smoldering anger and my desire to move past my hurt. My heart was ripped into two pieces. And one piece said I hate you for what you did to me, while the other piece said I want to forgive you, and I want you back again and I want to love you.
A savior came to her in the form of a very sick thirteen year old dancing boy that had an badly infected amputated leg. She nursed him back to health and he soon became very special to her. She taught him how to read and about books and about her travels and the world. He made her laugh. He made her feel alive. When her husband was traveling they would spend there days working in the garden and their nights reading aloud. She felt he was the son she never got to have.
Meanwhile while the Taliban started taking a stronghold on the country she was living safely behind her compound walls. She missed her poppy fields fiercely, she missed her youth and her husband.
I was grateful for all the things my husband had provided for me. I knew he did those things out of love. But I longed not just for an ordered world. I longed for an ordered heart. I wish he could bring order to our troubled past.
In 2001 the year the Taliban bombed the World Trade Center she because ill. She returned with her husband to her beloved poppy fields. Now an old woman. It was during that time that she got to finally feel true forgiveness. It was during those long winter months that she finally fell in love.
One final note the appendix was truly amazing and unexpected. This book is recommend for anyone that has ever loved. Anyone that ever wants to fall in love and anyone that has ever truly forgiven someone and found love again.
Top 50 AMAZON REVIEWER
When I received a copy of “The Poppy Field Diary” in exchange for my willingness to write an honest review I had no idea what to expect. Because of other review commitments I had made it was a couple weeks before I was able to give it my attention. When I began reading it, I could hardly put it down. Although it is a book of nearly 500 pages (including the back material), it reads quickly. More importantly, it succeeds at every level.
To begin with, it provides the reader with a vivid description of Afghan culture, as well as background to the conflicts that have beset Afghanistan in the decades since the Soviet invasion. Carey Richard, the author, has traveled in more than 47 countries, and has spent considerable time among the Afghan people. Her detailed, graphic descriptions bring the country and its culture to life.
It is also the story of the life of a woman, from her earliest youth to her death, in a male-dominated culture, one in which men are taught to be warriors––tough, unemotional, unyielding, and dominant. Written from this woman’s perspective, it provides the reader with a realistic glimpse of life in this culture.
Most importantly, it is a story of betrayal, hurt, resentment, but ultimately grace, love, and forgiveness, as this woman struggles to forgive her husband, who has hurt and betrayed her in many ways and on many levels. Although it is in no way a preachy or religious story, the path of love, forgiveness, and grace that this woman takes is clearly intended as a reflection of God’s love for us.
Finally, and ultimately less importantly, but still significant, is that the book is flawlessly edited. As someone who is distressed by the amount of poorly edited material being published today (both in print and electronically), it is refreshing to come across a book that is free of typographical and grammatical errors.
Samantha Dewitt (Rivera) for Readers’ Favorite
For a young woman life in Afghanistan is not easy. But for a young girl who has grown up without her father, a girl who is part foreigner herself and with stronger ideals than most girls of her era, life is different entirely. Growing into adulthood changes her life in a myriad of ways, introducing her to love and loss as well as war and despair. She comes to find love in many forms and to find happiness in places she may never have expected. Life in a war-torn country is never easy, but surviving through the personal crises of her life isn’t easy either. It will take love, patience, trust and courage to survive the life she has chosen in The Poppy Field Diary by Carey Richard.
I was drawn into this book from the first chapter. The author paints an excellent picture with his words and definitely brings you into the story. You find yourself relating to the main character (whose name you never really learn) and feel almost as though you were her, living through her troubles and insecurities. At the same time it’s easy to relate to the variety of other characters throughout this book including Amir, Shayan and more. It’s a beautifully written story filled with love and the trials and tribulations of a woman who is simply looking for happiness in her own life. The Poppy Field Diary is a story of a woman overcoming herself and her own weaknesses to find happiness in her world.
In Richard’s poetic, introspective first novel, after an Afghan woman marries for love in a culture of arranged marriages and multiple wives, she begins a lifelong journey of self-discovery filled with betrayal and forgiveness.
An unnamed young girl lives an idyllic life with her mother dreaming, reading and writing in her diary, a treasured possession from the dead French father she knows only through a photograph. “Most young girls do not remember a vigorous young father but an aging tyrant,” she says.In her beloved poppy field she spies a princelike man watering his horse. She falls in love with this romantic figure, also not named,and they eventually marry. Thegirl enters marriage with romantic notions yet is slowly disillusioned. She longs to impart to her three sons her mother’s wisdom and love of books, but her husband raises them with a love of guns and horses. As time passes, she grows suspicious. Hiding behind the anonymity of a burka, she discovers he is cheating. She obsesses over this infidelity as her country crumbles. Their eldest son joins the mujahedeen fighting the Soviets while the younger sons are sent to Pakistan. Over the years, she longs to forgive her husband but doesn’t make a move until his fortunes are at their lowest: “As long as he was inhuman, I found it difficult to forgive him….But a hurting man was more like me.” A compromise is reached in which sexual relations resume, yet true closure doesn’t happen until her dying days. Richard concludes each chapter with haikulike poems, but his prose also sings lyrically: “In early spring, the rain comes in torrents. The stream bordering my field swells and roars and gallops down the hillside, reckless and untamed.” Despite the meditative nature of the narrative, historical action continuously looms in the background—the Soviet collapse, factional warring, the rise of the Taliban, and the similarly timed attacks on the World Trade Center and mujahedeen leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.
A highly personal story that mines the psychology of betrayal and forgiveness in an Afghan psyche.