Monday, 14 September 2015

The Gori's Daughter by Shazia Hobbs


                                                                             
With the fullest cast of characters, The Gori's Daughter isn t just about understanding mixed race unions and identity, or even the turmoil of the polygamous household. Hobbs also shines a bright light on why some cross cultural marriages happen and ultimately fail, but touchingly also demonstrates the elements of care, loyalty and desperately sought love that bind people from disparate heritages together. Hobbs debut isn't a criticism, not of Islam, not of Pakistani culture, wider White society, or even her family. It is a fair and compassionate exposé of all of these dynamics and more, and a unique accomplishment for that. Whilst readers eagerly await the forthcoming sequel, The Gori's Son.




It took me longer than usual to read this book. The reason for this is it affected me deeply and I just had to put it down and read something lighter for a few days.
 Based on a true story it tells of Aisha who has a Scottish white mother and a Pakistani father. Her father also had a Pakistani wife he brought over from Pakistan with their children to live with his white wife and her children. As you can imagine such an arrangement was never going to work out and Aisha bore the brunt of this.
At the age of three her father sent her to live with her grandparents in Pakistan and that was the only time in her childhood that Aisha felt loved only to be torn from them five years later and brought back to Glasgow and a loveless life. From believing she was a Pakistani child to being told she wasn't and only a Gori's ( white woman's) daughter, Aisha never fitted in.

This book brought out all kind of emotions in me. 
Nostalgia, as I read about places in Glasgow I have known all my life, Dennistoun,Thornliebank, Polllokshields, Govanhill, etc.
Fear, at times I feared for Aisha's life as she pushed herself to the limit with drugs and moved from place to place.
 Sadness, that her mother did not have the gumption to leave the father and build a life for her children. 
Disbelief, that a father could treat a child as if she was nothing and push her kicking and screaming into a forced marriage. 
I felt anger at Aisha too, at her constant yearning for approval for her parents. Her father had already dis-owned her and said she was dead to him. Her mother was so apathetic she could do nothing without approval from her husband and his other wife.
Aisha's father's attidue had a snowball effect on all members of the family. The brothers and sisters, step brothers and step sisters and it spread to the wider family and neighbours. He ruled the house and his word was law. All the time he was gambling and seeing other women. His laws clearly didn't inculde him.
Apart from Aisha I don't think there was anyone in book I liked except for Aunt Wilma and of course Ben who deserves a sainthood for waiting for Aisha to find her Pakistani roots again only to find out that nothing had changed in her family and the community's attitude towards her.

The author has opened a window into the Glasgow Pakistani way of life. Her book starts in the sixties and it's to be hoped that things have change since then, but I'm not so sure.
Aisha's life is one none of us would want and I wanted to hug that beautiful child and tell her that eventually life would be good. It made me appreciate the happy childhood I had. The story kept me awake at night preying on my mind. I think you've written a worthwhile book if you can keep someone awake thinking about your story.
If this is based on a true story then I hope that Aisha is still enjoying her life with Ben and her children and loves the ones who love her back. 


3 comments:

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  2. Thanks Val it was a hard read especially since it was centered around Glasgow. My daughter knows the author and her husband which is what alerted me to it. My daughter found it hard to read to but I think if we want to find out about life we should read books like this.

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  3. So sorry, Anne! When I looked here, my comment appeared twice, so I deleted what I thought was one of them. Now it seems that was just a glitch and I've deleted the original comment. I didn't mean to. I'm definitely going to get this book!

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