#3wordreview: Expansive; historical; passionate

Gary Kemp holding a copy of A God in Every Stone

Gary Kemp holding a copy of A God in Every Stone

#3wordreview: I dug it

Kamila Shamsie's expansive novel delivers an epic, sweeping, historical story that moves with fluidity and ease from the Persia of 5th century BC to the Peshawar massacre of 1930 via the bloodied fields of Ypres, the murder of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, and the bravery of Britain's young female VODs. All is skilfully filtered through the lens of love and the strong characterisation of what amounts to three protagonists - a young, modern-thinking British woman and archaeologist, Viv Rose Spencer, her keen protégé, a Pashtan boy called Najeeb Gul, and his older brother, Qayyum, an embittered ex-soldier, who on losing an eye and comrades at Ypres fighting on behalf of the British, takes up a greater, yet unarmed battle against his country's colonisers.

The book echoes with symbolism and poetic resonance, managing to draw a line through two and a half thousand years with the help of a priceless ancient artefact and then somehow tying it into a passionate lovers' knot of a tale.

While history in all its aesthetic beauty is being eagerly uncovered from the dust of ancient lands by the extraordinary Viv, lives are paradoxically being buried and lost in the muddied fields of 20th century Europe. This digging for history is reflected in the method that Shamsie chooses to reveal her story to us, as she digs back again and again through the book's same climactic days from different points of view, until its passion-filled climax is finally revealed.

I adored this novel - Shamsie's prose is full of a casual poetry, unaffected yet heady, allowing you to believe and sense the diverse worlds surrounding its characters, whether it be the horrors and chaos of world war one or the richness that is the tinderbox of Peshawar. But mostly it is the pain of love that you feel so strongly etched within its pages.

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie is shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, which is announced on 3rd June. http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/

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