This was pretty much compulsory reading, considering that I live in the Middle East, and it was a book that has been on my shelves for quite a while. However, although it was interesting, it certainly wasn't un-putdownable - checking back I see that it has taken me over 2 months to read. It's quite a big book and I was moving house, but even so, that's a looong time.
The central character is Mohammed's first wife, Aisha, and the book goes beyond Mohammed's death to the caliphs who ruled after his passing, but during Aisha's lifetime. There is debate about how old Aisha was at the time of her marriage and it was the author's choice to take the youngest age, at just nine years old. I found, however, that her thoughts and conversation seemed more suited to an older person and this caused me some conflict in the earlier chapters.
Mohammed (pbuh), was an interesting character, more of a warrior than I had realised, but also a man of peace, with amazing negotiating skills. He held together a warring mix of tribes, against all odds, and gave generously of all he had, to the poor.
It is a shame that religions become warped to people's own ends. Islam teaches generosity and love, not the fanaticism that we see today. The early believers would turn in their graves if they could see what has happened since.
This was a book group read and I was fortunate to have some Muslim friends in my book group, who explained some of the narrative and put it into context within today's world.
I do think this is a book worth reading and although it took me a while, I don't regret the time spent. I am now much better informed about the origins of the Islamic faith and the history behind it.