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An American diplomat is forced to confront the devastation of her past when she is assigned to remote northern Afghanistan.

Twenty-one years ago, diplomat Angela Morgan witnessed the death of her husband during the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Devastated by her loss, she fled back to America, where she hid in the backwaters of the State Department and avoided the high-profile postings that would advance her career. Now, with that career about to dead-end and no true connections at home, she must take the one assignment available-at a remote British army outpost in northern Afghanistan. Unwelcome among the soldiers and unaccepted by the local government and warlords, Angela has to fight to earn the respect of her colleagues, especially the enigmatic Mark Davies, a British major who is by turns her staunchest ally and her fiercest critic. Frustrated at her inability to contribute to the nation's reconstruction, Angela slips out of camp disguised in a burka to provide aid to the refugees in the war-torn region. She becomes their farishta, or "angel," in the local Dari language-and discovers a new purpose for her life, a way to finally put her grief behind her.

Drawing on the experiences of the author as a diplomat in Afghanistan, Farishta is a deeply moving and fast-paced story of a woman struggling to move beyond a past trauma, and finding a new community, a new love, and a new sense of self in the process.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 11, 2011 – With its shades of A Bell for Adano, McArdle's debut winner of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is a quietly devastating novel about an American trying to do good in a foreign land, but finding that best intentions are not always enough to overcome bureaucracy and entrenched folkways. Twenty-two years after her husband was killed and she was injured and lost her unborn baby in the 1983 Beirut embassy bombing, Angela Morgan sees her Foreign Service career at a dead end until she's sent to a remote British army outpost in northern Afghanistan. She finds herself, as an American, at odds with her British counterparts, and, as a woman, at odds with the culture's attitude toward her gender. In the course of secretly trying to help the locals (and gaining the name Farishta Dari for angel), Angela begins two touching relationship; one with Rahim, her translator, who, at 23, reminds her of the son she never had; the other with Maj. Mark Davies, a handsome British intelligence officer. Events conspire to force Angela to choose between public service and personal happiness. Based on her experiences as a Foreign Service officer in Afghanistan, McArdle writes insightfully about the quagmire in that country and the human cost of war.

Customer Reviews


Engrossing, fascinating, informative. I was sorry to have it end.


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 the background, with all its hazards, and sometimes it just pops up. The main character is a levelheaded female struggling with some personal issues but she is a reasonable, good humored and likeable person, and it’s interesting to see how she goes on in her year in Afghanistan, especially with trying to overcome her fears and reaching for other people. The most interesting part, for me, was the setting, the cultural, historical and geographical descriptions of life in Afghanistan, and the innumerous obstacles – political, economical and cultural – for the reconstruction of a country devastated by so many wars, internal and external. Since the author is a American diplomat who was posted in northern Afghanistan for a year, her account of life there, in the camp and in the streets or places she frequented, is really vivid and it conveyed the difficulties and perplexities this place presents to its own people and to foreign forces. I particularly liked how she was capable to see the plight of women and children in the day-to-day life (who are basically non-existent entities to military or reconstruction teams) and tried to help in a simple but fruitful way (I read later that this is part of the author real experience there and I was glad she is still working to improve conditions of the Afghan people with a great insight). The narrative is also fast and fluid and helps to get you in the setting of the novel.

I was given a copy of the audio book to review and I would recommend it to everyone, since it was an agreeable surprise to me (I don’t think I would have known of this book otherwise, and now I am happy I had the chance). The narration is outstanding with an excellent range of voice and tone, improving the listener experience.

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  • $4.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jun 02, 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings