Thursday, August 02, 2018

What is Gwen Florio reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gwen Florio, author of Silent Hearts: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I'm reading The Eight Mountains, by Paolo Cognetti.

This book was a bit of a whim; I think it was a Simon & Schuster special ebook offer. Anyhow, I like mountains and books about adventure (Cognetti is an alpinist) so I clicked, and immediately was hooked—liking it so much, in fact, that I headed over to my local independent bookstore, Fact and Fiction, for a hardcover copy.

The comparison to Elena Ferrante’s books (which I loved) is inevitable, if not quite parallel. In this case, the story follows to adulthood two boys, Pietro and Bruno, who meet when Pietro’s parents rent a house in Bruno’s mountain village to escape Milan’s summer heat. Pietro is educated, worldly; Bruno is rustic, spending his summer herding cows. But the boys share a love of the mountains, along with Pietro’s father, who leads them in exploring the wild heights, where for the first time Pietro sees a world beyond the forested hills his mother prefers. Cognetti captures the awe and elation such places...[read on]
About Silent Hearts, from the publisher:
For fans of A Thousand Splendid Suns comes a stirring novel set in Afghanistan​ about two women—an American aid worker and her local interpreter—who form an unexpected friendship despite their utterly different life experiences and the ever-increasing violence that surrounds them in Kabul.

In 2001, Kabul is suddenly a place of possibility as people fling off years of repressive Taliban rule. This hopeful chaos brings together American aid worker Liv Stoellner and Farida Basra, an educated Pakistani woman still adjusting to her arranged marriage to Gul, the son of an Afghan strongman whose family spent years of exile in Pakistan before returning to Kabul.

Both Liv and her husband take positions at an NGO that helps Afghan women recover from the Taliban years. They see the move as a reboot—Martin for his moribund academic career, Liv for their marriage. But for Farida and Gul, the move to Kabul is fraught, severing all ties with Farida’s family and her former world, and forcing Gul to confront a chapter in his life he’d desperately tried to erase.

The two women, brought together by Farida’s work as an interpreter, form a nascent friendship based on their growing mutual love for Afghanistan, though Liv remains unaware that Farida is reporting information about the Americans’ activities to Gul’s family, who have ties to the black market.

As the bond between Farida and Liv deepens, war-scarred Kabul acts in different ways upon them, as well as their husbands. Silent Hearts is an absorbing, complex portrayal of two very different but equally resilient women caught in the conflict of a war that will test them in ways they never imagined.
Visit Gwen Florio's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Gwen Florio & Nell.

My Book, the Movie: Silent Hearts.

Writers Read: Gwen Florio.

--Marshal Zeringue