We dive into the life of Scottish born and raised Margaret as she lives with her Afghan second husband Iqbal, a doctor, and two young children in Afghanistan.
The story jumps back and forth between the present and the past in which she met and fell in love with her first husband. Margaret has changed her name to Miriam and gradually throughout the story we discover her history as well as those of her two husbands.
This is a beautifully told story that will remain in your thoughts after you’ve finished reading. There’s conflict both on the social landscape level as well as the personal. There’s doubt and mistrust because of the conflicting cultural issues, but there’s also love, kindness and inclusiveness shown to Miriam. She becomes immersed in the life of Iqbal’s village partly because she’s a midwife and sets up a clinic for the village women.
The story is rich in imagery. Horrible things happen in Afghanistan, as they do everywhere else of course, but the miseries caused by families compelled to ‘save face’ are difficult if not impossible to understand by anyone not raised in such a culture.
I found myself musing that the author must have firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan and life there. There’s just too much detail, in my opinion, for it not to be from personal experience. I was curious enough to check out her website and discovered she had spent ten years in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a health worker.
I spent two very pleasant afternoons reading this book and would have been happy to keep reading if it had been longer.
The prompt was a problem with the blog sharing capabilities of my old website. That raised it’s very annoying head just two weeks before I was due to renew my website registration for another year or two.
It was obviously a sign from above to move on. So I did. To WordPress. Boy, was that ever a steep learning curve!
Incredibly annoyingly—at least in the short term—was the fact that I was unable to transfer my existing data. I therefore had to start from scratch.
That turned out to be a good thing because it made me analyse what my old site had offered and whether I wanted to replicate it.
I decided I didn’t.
I thought about what I, as a reader, like to see on author pages.
Information about their books, yes, but also information about them. I like to know something about the lives of the authors I read. Not nosy stuff, definitely not. But where they live, what interests them and what they occasionally get up to.
And here’s the result.
I’ve completely overhauled my book pages to include the story behind the story and location pics. I’ve also gone the extra mile and chosen the Australian actors I’d love to play my lead characters if the books were to be made into movies. Come check them out. Here are a few. imbroglio stars | automaton stars
Elisabeth, it’s lovely to finally meet you. I’ve been wanting to talk to you ever since the revelations that came out during Russell Montgomery’s trial. I thought we could tackle it by starting at the beginning and working our way from there.
Elisabeth: Sounds good to me.
What prompted you to move from Sydney to Canberra?
Elisabeth: I love Sydney but not to put too fine a point on it I felt I had to leave. Work and life there were no longer tenable.
You were with Legal Aid and you moved to the Canberra Legal Aid office. So it wasn’t Legal Aid as such that you wanted to move away from?
Elisabeth: No. It was more that I kept running into someone I wanted nothing to do with.
Would that be Thierry Richards QC?
Elisabeth: Look … regardless of how I feel about that person I don’t want to … would you mind if we moved on.
Okay, let’s talk about when you arrived in Canberra. You jumped in at the deep end with the Russell Montgomery case.
Elisabeth: I’m really sorry… but do you mind if we don’t talk about that either. It’s still very raw.
Not a problem. I understand. Let’s take a step back. Describe yourself to me. How do you see yourself?
Elisabeth: Okay. Let me attempt a bit of objectivity. Short spiky red hair. I used to be able to sit on it but had it cut before coming to Canberra. Typical redhead’s colouring … white, no freckles because I’ve never been a sunlover, size 10, 5’7” in bare feet, and I’m 34. How’s that? Oh, and shall I tell you what Robert said about my eyes? Green as deep ocean on a sunbright day. I was speechless when he said it. No-one’s ever described them quite like that before. So now you’d know me in a crowd, yes?
Yes, I believe I would. Next question: What do you hope to achieve in life?
Elisabeth: That a big question. Many things I suppose, but happiness has to be at the top. Nothing’s worth it if you’re not happy.
And are you? Happy, that is.
Elisabeth: I’m working on it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Elisabeth: I’m a walker. For the exercise but also because I love it. Getting out and exploring and letting my mind wander. Never fails to refresh and re-invigorate.
Your friend Honey Milton was often a walking companion I believe. What is she to you?
Elisabeth: My best friend. Always will be. She’s gorgeous. I adore her. I miss her like crazy now that I’m in Canberra. We used to see each other all the time because her man travels a lot. He’s an actor and tours with his company. And as you say, we both liked walking. Not so often together nowadays, given we now live in different cities.
What about Robert Murphy?
Elisabeth: Robert? I liked him the moment I met him. He’s straightforward, sincere, good at his job. What’s not to like? The fact that he’s very attractive is a plus … . He stuck with me from the start despite the fact I couldn’t have been very likeable. I had my reasons, but he didn’t know that. But I count him among my good friends now. I hope he feels the same way about me.
As much as I’d like to explore that further I know you don’t want to, so let’s turn to the trial. What was it about the Stavros family that irked you so much?
Elisabeth: Every single one of them was lying and I knew it. But proving it was almost impossible because of Russell’s amnesia. Thank God for Robert and Joe Gaudry. In spite of me being no help they kept pushing. It was entirely because of them we got to the truth.
Let’s finish with what’s made you the woman you are today?
Elisabeth: Mmm. That may be a question better put to others. But I’ll have a go at it. On a personal level I was very young when I made the decision that altered my life. At the time I felt it was the only choice I could make, I believed I was too young to do anything else. I still believe that. But I feel the weight of condemnation from some people. I try not to let it bother me. On a professional level, law was something that always interested me. When I started university I began a Bachelor of Arts, but the law components really gripped me so I changed and ended up doing a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics. I still like law. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t be happy doing something else … if something else came along.
Elisabeth, thanks, I know you weren’t looking forward to this and what I might have been planning to ask you. How about we go for a drink. My shout.
Elisabeth: It’s Friday night so why not. Great idea. Just so you know though. Anything I say under the influence is not for public consumption.
Fair enough. Grab your bag then. There’s a new bar opened up in Garema Place. I thought we could see if it’s any good.
You can find Elisabeth and get to know her story in AUTOMATON
Leaving comments is an ongoing source of discussion. I’ve seen two posts by other bloggers in just the last week.
I’m not going to enter into the general debate about leaving them versus not leaving them.
I have a very definite situation in mind.
Guest posts, interviews, promotions
It’s when we guest post on another’s blog site. What’s the etiquette of responding once the post is published?
If you’ve been lucky enough to be a guest on another blog, been interviewed or had your book/s featured, do you say a public thank you in the comments box at the bottom of the post?
The blog host probably spent quite a bit of time preparing the post. My thinking is they should be publicly thanked for their efforts. It’s the polite thing to do, isn’t it?
A blogging master
I was first presented with this several years ago when I was new to blogging. One of my first guest appearances was on UK author Morgen Bailey’s blog. Now there’s an incredibly busy blogger who knows what she’s about.
In the information she provided me with was the request that after the event I visit the blog and leave a comment. I did, and it’s a lesson that has stayed with me.
In subsequent guest appearances I’ve both commented on the blog site and privately thanked the host via email.
In my own blog posts featuring guests I haven’t followed Morgen’s lead by asking the guest to leave a comment but I’ve decided to do so in future.
The reason being that I rarely receive that public thank you on the post itself. I often receive an email. Sometimes I receive a comment on e.g. Facebook. And in both instances I appreciate the courtesy and thoughtfulness.
However, in more than a few instances I’ve not received any follow-up thank you or comment.