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The End of Manners: A Novel    by Francesca Marciano Amazon.com order for
End of Manners
by Francesca Marciano
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Pantheon, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

After transporting readers to Kenya in Rules of the Wild and Italy in Casa Rosa, acclaimed author and screen writer Francesca Marciano takes us to war-weary Kabul, Afganistan in The End of Manners.

Food photographer Maria Galante and journalist Imogen Glass team up to go to Kabul, to interview women there who are immolating themselves rather than entering into forced marriages. Maria starts her journey by taking a hostile environment course. One can almost feel the exhaustion that ends each day of her week there. She finally joins Imo for the long flight to Kabul, where she realizes she is entering another world, filled with dust and dirt and devastation. Men brandish rifles at every turn of the road. Women are completely covered from head to toe including the face.

When Maria and Imogen finally find the hospital, where the unsuccessful suicide is recovering, in a remote area, she won't talk to them. The conditions at the hospital are appalling it's filthy, with two to a bed, and little in the way of medicines or equipment. Maria finds this very trying but realizes she can always leave. Local people must stay.

Americans are not very popular in Afganistan, the feeling being that if they weren't there the tragic conditions would not exist. The End of Manners is written as a narrative. At times, it is hard to understand that it is a novel and not non-fiction. Marciano writes of what she apparently has seen for herself, fictionalizing it as she went along. She gets her point across poignantly with her dialog and the thoughts that race through Maria's mind. The End of Manners is a starkly beautiful story of a starkly beautiful land and its beleaguered population.

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