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3.62  ·  Rating details ·  412 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
Twenty-one years ago, diplomat Angela Morgan's husband died in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Shattered by her loss, she retreated to the backwaters of the State Department. Now, with her career about to dead end and no connections at home, she is forced to accept assignment to a remote outpost in northern Afghanistan. Unwelcome by the soldiers and unaccepted b ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Riverhead Books (first published May 14th 2011)
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Patricia McArdle
Jun 10, 2011 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Since I'm the author, I will not rate Farishta and will leave it to other readers to comment. It's been fascinating to see the varied opinions that GoodReads reviewers have about my novel. I appreciate them all. I'm starting to get invited to speak at a growing number of book clubs in my area (Washington DC) and in Southern California where I spend some time every year. I love it. I'm also beginning to set up Skype meetings with book groups in other parts of the country. The paperback version of ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a timely and interesting novel with several important messages including, of all things, solar cooking solutions for Afghanistan. Sometimes you just don't have a clue about the simplest needs of people in faraway places.

If you want to enjoy this, I think you really have to get into the mindset of reading it as if it were nonfiction. It's so clearly a reflection of the author's diplomatic experiences in Afghanistan. Its quality as a novel is not impressive. What's interesting is the on-th
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ahdieu
This is a review for the audio book.

I really enjoyed this book, not knowing exactly what kind of story it would tell. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel about a fictitious Angela Morgan, a forty-seven year old American diplomat whose personal life is basically inexistent and her experiences in a PTR camp (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Afghanistan in the year 2005. In this year, the war was being fought most to the south, in Iraq, so she does not experience a lot of war, but it’s there, in t
Oct 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
A quick read set in northern Afghanistan at a time when Iraq was getting more attention. The diplomat's perspective was interesting. The heroine stands up to local warlords, saves a few lives with amazing first aid skills, and introduces solar ovens (which will prevent more deforestation and allow children to go to school rather than gather firewood all day long). The English captain strongly resembles Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy, and there's even a slick Russian intelligence agent popping up to cau ...more
The cover attracted my gaze at the library, the inside flap summary sounded pretty good and I enjoyed A Cup of Friendship (by Deborah Rodriguez?? Kabul School of Beauty gal)so I added this to my stack. Once started I was a bit disappointed to find it written in first person, a point of view which is hard to carry off really well, but I kept reading, hoping the subject matter would be enough to carry me through. And I did find the adventures of a female diplomat posted in Afghanistan interesting. ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Farishta is a compelling story that exudes the author's first-hand knowledge and experience of Afghanistan. The first-person narrator is a strong-willed woman, an American foreign service officer, who overcomes long-standing fears from a personal encounter with terrorism by facing them head on in the remote northern part of a country ravaged by decades of war. Good characters, believable dialogue. The side story of an interpreter's romance with a woman from another tribe portrays the challenges ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the novel as it rounded out my impressions of life in Afghanistan after reading other books such as the non-fiction, The dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon and part of The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad (I had trouble getting through it. I was disturbed by the main character's treatment of his wife and the death of a young neighbor.) It is always good to read a positive note in a bad situation and the solar ovens in the story that are being promoted by the author ...more
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I kept reading this book thinking that it would get more interesting. There was never really a plot and the whole love interest didn't make it any better. I had high hopes since I had read great reviews of this book, but it never engaged me. I continued to read it till the end and ending was abrupt where a lot happened in the last few pages like if the author realized that she needed to end the story. I believe the author would have been better off writing a memoir of her time in Afghanistan ins ...more
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with the others that this reads more like a nonfiction book than fiction, except for the love interest. But I found it fascinating to hear an American/British POV of the conflict... And I enjoyed learning about the diplomatic service from a non-spy female. I found it suspenseful and couldn't put it down, even if it's not the best written book. Hope she writes some more equally interesting books
Jyothi Jose
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story that could have been written only by someone who has experienced the diplomatic power plays of warn torn Afghanistan. and yet so different from any other book written in the genre. gives a more personal and humanitarian perspective, how people find the inspiration to find the light and work towards the betterment of others even when everything looks hopeless and beyond help.
Suitable for book groups. Reader's guide questions available and recommended.

FARISHTA, the book's title, is the name-in-translation of the protagonist Angela Morgan. Angela is a linguistically-gifted American career diplomat and widow sent to the northern Afghanistan British outpost in Mazar-i-Sharif to vet the translators. Are the paid interpreters reliable and accurate, or are they misleading their Western employers?

Angela is not a super- career- woman who wanted the danger and excitement of
Kate Z
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this book more like 3.5 stars. It was "fine" but I was disappointed by Farishta.

It's hard to rate/review a fiction story that is semi-autobiographical because you don't know which details really happened and which were added in to try to create the fiction. The novel is the story of Angela (Farishta) Morgan and her year serving as an American diplomat in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. Angela Morgan spends the year in a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the northern part of Afgh
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this yesterday - really enjoyed the book. The author did a good job of giving a taste of what it is like living in a camp in Afghanistan as a diplomat. While the Foreign Service sounds like a glamorous career, in many ways it seems like a very boring job. I was very impressed with her insight into solar ovens and the work she began doing in this area. I gained new knowledge of some of the difficulties foreigners have in understanding the thinking and culture of the people and admire t ...more
NA Fronczak
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Angela Morgan is an American Foreign Service Officer who lost her husband and unborn child with the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. She spent the next 20 years avoiding diplomatic postings and promotions in the State Department. She is given the ultimatum to accept a posting in Afghanistan or retire early. She is the only woman stationed in a British outpost in northern Afghanistan and this book is the story of her one year assignment there. The author is a retir ...more
Pr Latta
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pr by: BookPage
This could be titled “My Year in Afghanistan:” it is fiction that reads like nonfiction. Patricia McArdle, a retired Foreign Service Officer served in Afghanistan and has written a fictional representation of her experiences, presented chronologically with a straightforward narrative. This was a compulsive read for me. I empathized with Angela’s mid-life angst, drank in the cultural and geographical descriptions (KW has traveled to nearby areas for work), was inspired by one woman making a diffe ...more
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would probably give this only 2 1/2 stars. It started out reading like a memoir by a lady diplomat who is sent to Afghanistan for a year, all the problems she encountered simply be being a women, with both the British military she has to live with and the Afghanistan culture. It seemed like non-fiction for a while. I even started to look through the book to see if there were any pictures, then remembered it was fiction. But then it turned into a romance novel and it lost my interest. Could hav ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating novel about a female diplomat in Afganistan, written by Patricia McArdle based on her experience there. Very well written giving a view of the complicated issues facing the US and our allies as we intervene in that society. The story line of the developing romance of the main character and one of her British colleagues helps the flow and does not detract.
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy books like this. Informative and crisply written. The obligatory romance was well wrought and even though it was fiction it felt sincere or maybe, authentic. I will probably get no closer to Afghanistan than these types of books. Thank you Patricia McArdle for sharing.
Mary Jo
I enjoyed this one because of the mystery surround women and their lifestyles in Afghanistan. Of course, the book had a lpt of credibility because the author had actually lived there and worked for the state department. She is much tougher than most women.
Jun 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Great story of a woman career US diplomat. I have never been fond of military service, because I don't like guns. I love the humanitarian contribution that can be achieved by serving as a diplomat, through this book.

The book mixed the complicated explanation of Afghan politics with a story of human tragedy and sad redemption in a quick reading easy fashion.
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel but actually sometimes read more like a non fiction. Not a surprise I guess as it is based on the authors experience of being a US diplomat in Afghanistan. I enjoyed it - it covers a lot of ground - past and present Afghanistan, differences between different countries diplomatic approaches, how people live through war. So it's got a lot in it. I found it to be quite thought provoking as well as hugely sad. I think the author captures the waste of war and how much more useful it w ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do Not Miss This Book!

Completely engrossing tale of a State Department linguist/diplomat assignment to war-torn Afghanistan. Based on a real-world experience, and filled with riveting, authentic detail, it is an unflinching look at the complex political and military aspects of civil war, as well as an intimate view into the personal lives of Afghans, soldiers and diplomats caught in its grip.

Jumi Ramirez
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glad I read this 😭
Mar 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a really interesting insight into what diplomats face overseas, particularly in war torn regions. The daily routines and the lack of any glamour that many associate with such a job was particularly fascinating.

However, I wish there had been more on Angela's interactions with women in the region and the spread of her solar ovens. Her passion for this endeavour never really shone through to me, perhaps because her forays into this area were touched on quite superficially in my
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I deeply admire how the author draws vivid, verbal pictures of a world we know nothing about, and how she presents snapshots of the country's political and cultural complexities through her memoir-style vignettes. The book is infused with the authority of personal experience, making it--at times--hyper-real.

So many scenes and ideas in Farishta have come back to me since reading the book, especially with Afghanistan a continuing issue in the news. I wonder how Afghanistan will re-set when the Ame
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Angela Morgan is an American diplomat with a talent for languages. Because of these skills, which the plot requires her to conceal, she is assigned to a remote British army outpost in northern Afghanistan. She has to struggle to earn the respect of her colleagues, especially British major Mark Davies and her Dari interpreter, Rahim. In the course of her duties Angela meets a young female law student, Nilofar, who is fighting against the treatment of Afghan women as property. Angela observes that ...more
Laurie Walker
I read this a few years ago, curious to learn what makes an ABNA winner. I found the plot to be a little too predictable, but I found the author's voice to be brilliant .... all this time later I still remember the passage in this book where she talks about the Afghan people - I will paraphrase - patient people who can spend all day watching goats, and when America has left, a year from now or ten years from now, they will retrieve all those weapons that have been oiled and stored in hiding plac ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time deciding on whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I ultimately settled on 3 stars because the main character, Angela, never quite engaged me.

Angela is a diplomat who is stationed to a remote village in Northern Afghanistan for a year. The story is told from her first person account of life as a Western woman in Afghanistan. As another reviewer noted, this book is best read as a fictionalized memoir - there is no real plot to the book. When read with that mindset, the book is
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Patricia McArdle is a retired senior Foreign Service Officer. Before joining the Department of State, she served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer health educator in Paraguay and for three years as a U.S. Naval Communications officer in Morocco. Her last overseas diplomatic posting in 2005 was as a U.S. government representative in Northern Afghanistan where she was based with a British Arm ...more
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