When at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to receive a signed ARC of Samra Zafar’s memoir A Good Wife. Memoirs can be hit or miss and I was hoping that this one was well-written as the blurb describing the book sounded intriguing.
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Autobiography
She faced years of abuse after arriving in Canada as a teenage bride in a hastily arranged marriage, but nothing could stop Samra Zafar from pursuing her dreams.
At 15, Samra Zafar had big dreams for herself. She was going to go to university, and forge her own path. Then with almost no warning, those dreams were pulled away from her when she was suddenly married to a stranger at 17 and had to leave behind her family in Pakistan to move to Canada. Her new husband and his family promised that the marriage and the move would be a fulfillment of her dream, not a betrayal of it. But as the walls of their home slowly became a prison, Samra realized the promises were empty ones.
In the years that followed she suffered her husband’s emotional and physical abuse that left her feeling isolated, humiliated and assaulted. Desperate to get out, and refusing to give up, she hatched an escape plan for herself and her two daughters. Somehow she found the strength to not only build a new future, but to walk away from her past, ignoring the pleas of her family and risking cultural isolation by divorcing her husband.
But that end was only the beginning for Samra. Through her academic and career achievements, she has gone on to become a mentor and public speaker, connecting with people around the world from isolated women in situations similar to her own, to young schoolgirls in Kenya who never allowed themselves to dream to men making the decisions to save for their daughters’ educations instead of their dowries. A Good Wife tell her harrowing and inspiring story, following her from a young girl with big dreams, through finding strength in the face of oppression and then finally battling through to empowerment.
When I began reading this memoir, I did not know much about child brides, arranged marriages in Pakistan, or about the culture described in the book. I had seen women dressed to show their cultural background while walking the streets in Toronto, but had never really thought about the life they may lead behind closed doors. This memoir was an eye-opener for me. Zafar exposes not only her own experience and the loss of her dreams and innocence, but also the experience of so many women who have been encouraged into arranged marriages from a young age.
A Good Wife describes the changes Zafar experienced in her life: that from a young, independent child; to a sixteen year old who is married to a man older than her who lives across the world in another country; to a married woman living in a foreign country far from the support of her family; to the fight she took on to realise her dreams. While reading the memoir, I could not help but admire how she overcame all her obstacles. Her story is definitely an inspiration to all women – no matter what culture they are.
The memoir is extremely well-written and at no time was I bored with the story. In fact, I could not put it down and my interest was kept throughout. I felt pain when she described hurtful moments; and cheered when she worked at overcoming the obstacles to her dreams. As I completed the memoir, I could not help but feel a huge amount of respect for this woman who went against cultural expectations to be the woman she has become today.
If you enjoy reading memoirs, this is one you need to read. If you wish to find out more about the experience of child brides within this cultural context, this is a book that will add to your knowledge. If you wish to understand more of the culture of the Muslim community from Pakistan, this life story will add to your understanding. A Good Wife is a book that resonated with me and is one that I will think about for a long time.
I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019
(This novel was the 82nd in my book pledge for 2019)