Set in Afghanistan, Hosseini writes the novella in four parts, with each part offering the narrative perspective of the two female protagonists, Mariam and Laila. These characters are subjects of the oppression faced by women in Afghanistan - but in that oppression they show bravery, courage and compassion. Through the novel, we see the protagonists grow from innocent and naive children into strong, independent women. Unfortunately, their journey to strength is tarnished by loss, betrayal and abuse - much of which is reality for Afghani women.
As an avid reader, I have come across many 'evil' characters playing the role of the antagonist, but none have given me the heebie jeebies quite like Rasheed. Spouting the Taliban doctrine, Rasheed knows he is superior; he is manipulative, aggressive and so incredibly creepy. A product of the Afghani patriarchal society, Rasheed acts as the catalyst of the difficulties faced by Mariam and Laila - but he also, unconsciously, provides them with their strength.
A truly moving and gripping novel... and Emma Watson's favourite! If that's not a good enough reason to read it, I am not sure what is!