Book Reviews

“A quietly devastating novel about an American trying to do good in a foreign land…. 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."


Publishers Weekly



"...the point “Farishta” ultimately makes is well taken: Afghanistan, as welcoming as it is hostile, has proved to be far more complex than we outsiders ever imagined."


The Washington Post

“A compelling and readable book about the challenges faced by soldiers and civilians stationed in Afghanistan.”


The Huffington Post



"Patricia McArdle is well-qualified to choose this subject for a book. She is a retired diplomat who served on a PRT in northern Afghanistan. She admits that “Farishta” is a fictionalized version of her experience there. It is her first novel, and it is a very good one indeed."


The Washington Times


"Combining the emotional insight of Three Cups of Tea with the narrative intensity of a Jason Bourne story, Farishta is the gripping story of a female US diplomat living and working in Afghanistan.”


Valerie Plame Wilson, author of the 
New York Times-bestselling Fair Game


“McArdle accurately portrays life in the northern regions of Afghanistan…. Farishta is an outstanding read!"


Deborah Rodriguez, author of the New York Times-bestselling 
Kabul Beauty School and A Cup of Friendship


NPR reports on Patricia McArdle—a retired Foreign Service officer and Author who has served in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe and Afghanistan. Her debut novel, Farishta, tells the story of Angela Morgan, a diplomat whose husband died in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983. Like McArdle, Angela is summoned to serve for a year in an isolated British Army compound in Afghanistan. One story in the novel was inspired by an experience McArdle had while on patrol with British soldiers. cArdle noticed groups of Afghan children dragging large bundles of kindling back to their homes in the blistering heat. "I remembered that I had built a solar cooker when I was a Girl Scout many years ago," says McArdle. "I wondered if the Afghans knew about solar cooking because they had all this sun and they have no wood."Then McArdle searched online, and found instructions for building cookers on a site called Solar Cookers International. "The people were fascinated," she says. Has your Girl Scout experience ever led you to teach others?


--Girl Scout Blog



"Solar ovens make an appearance in “Farishta,” a novel about an American woman stationed in northern Afghanistan based on McArdle’s own experiences, with the main character wrapping herself in a burqa and sneaking out of the military base where she lives to bring the new technology into Afghan homes. That is one of the few incidents in the book that is not true. Most of the others are, including several ambushes and the time when the main character, Angela, took part in buzkashi, the Afghan national game in which horsemen try to snatch a beheaded goat or calf carcass."


--Arab News


"What rings true about the narrative are the “memoir” aspects of the story, drawn from the author’s own experiences. Such as the challenges faced by a lone woman in two powerful male-dominated worlds in a war zone: the all-male society within the army quarters, as well as the patriarchal culture outside. You appreciate that Morgan doesn’t just mark time till a better posting comes along but wants to be of worth in both these worlds. “Farishta” is the Dari word for Angela’s name, translated as “angel”. Despite the weight of the subject matter, the book is a light read. It opens a door into a world that you read about in the news everyday — you get to peep, but you aren’t really taken inside."


--"From the Front" The Hindu


"A Dangerous Career Move... [McArdle's] main character was supposed to be so distraught and continually affected by her husband's death. And yet, all of the characters, seem so wooden, so lacking in anything like personality. The dialogue was terrible. Like the characters, the dialogue lacked imagination and heart... I liked that Angela tried to help in any way she could. I wish there were more people out there interested in helping the people in ways that would actually work for them. Not ways that America or Europe thinks are the right ways, but ways that could have the possibility of taking root in a society that is so far behind in so many ways."


--The New Herald of Downriver, Michigan


"Excellent language skills help Angela to feel less marginalized in her new job. She develops a solar ovens project as she sees the only firewood available for cooking is brush from areas surrounding the refugee camps. Angela builds, tests, and successfully demonstrates these ovens to women in the displaced persons camp. She earns the admiration of some of the Afghans and the British officers. Now retired, Patricia McArdle spends time promoting the technology of solar ovens."


--Can You Read Me?


"Overwhelmed by her diplomatic experience in Afghanistan and wanting to share her story, Patricia McArdle turned to fiction instead of memoir to protect her contacts. The result, Farishta, was the recipient of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award—it took first prize out of 5,000 entries."


--Book Page: 'The Most Promising New Writers of the Season'


"The interest in Afghanistan's history, and the archeology exploring that history, is presented through the presence of a French archeologist, Prof. Mongibeaux. Both PTSD and solar cooking are themes also found in this book. But to my mind, the most important thing about this book is a good female role model, for young people to see and care about. "Farishta" which is Angela Morgan's name in Dari, is a strong, healthy woman, doing good work, in a difficult assignment."

--Book Chums


"I feel like I learned something reading this book, especially when I discovered that the author was a diplomat in northern Afghanistan. She does not claim that this is a memoir, but it is based on her experiences during her year posting in the Mazar i Sharif area as the only woman in a remote outpost. The book reads very realistically (does that make sense?). One of the most interesting things I learned is how Afghanis have destroyed almost all of their forests and children now scavenge for something to burn instead of attending school. The main character builds solar ovens using cardboard boxes painted black on the inside with glass and aluminum foil on top. She builds hundreds of the ovens and takes them out to distribute in the villages, showing women they can cook without wood. What a revolutionary idea!"


--Helen's Book Blog


"Over two days, Patricia McArdle’s slightly overlong debut novel, Farishta, still managed to hold my frantic attention. As I shut the book well past midnight, some climatic scenes continued to play in my head, rather like a film — a credit to the author’s graphic writing skills. This retired American diplomat’s semi-autobiographical novel mirroring her own (and others’) experiences at her final posting in northern Afghanistan is an intense and compelling read, though more of an insightful and informative memoir. Either way, I happily recommend it."


--The Deccan Herald


"Farishta will appeal to readers interested in learning more about the women of Afghanistan and the rest of the world’s involvement in their country. I particularly wanted to read it because of Angela’s desire to aid the refugees and the oppressed women. Unfortunately, her interaction with the Afghan women was very sparse. I was, however, interested in her friendship with Nilofar. Based on the little I know about McArdle, I think I would have enjoyed reading her memoir instead of her attempt with fiction. The parts I enjoyed about Farishta cannot overshadow my discontent with the novel’s conclusion."


--Luxury Reading


"[Farishta] is a captivating read. I totally lost myself in Farishta, and for a few nights I felt like I actually was in the Foreign Service as I followed Angela's adventures. There may no longer be any hope for me to become a diplomat, but I can always live vicariously through others. (And who knows? Maybe it's not too late for the Peace Corps.) Farishta, by the way, is a Persian/Dari name that means "angel" . . . a sort-of nickname given to Angela by her Dari teacher in DC and also by one of the local warlords. It's also the first name of a young girl she meets in Afghanistan."


--Mariandy's Book Blog


“When you look at a book with the title Farishta and the cover is a backward shot of a woman walking through a masonry arch wearing a blue burkha, you assume it is a title that focuses heavily on the Islamic way of life. With this novel by Patricia McArdle you will be quite wrong. The central character is Angela Morgan, a US diplomat who witnessed the bombing twenty-one years previously of the US Embassy in Beirut… This is the story of how a lone woman overcomes hostility and danger to make a cultural connection with the people of Afghanistan.”


--Dewitt District Library




"Farishta will appeal to readers interested in learning more about the women of Afghanistan and the rest of the world’s involvement in their country."



-Luxury Reading

"Only someone who has actually served as a wartime diplomat in northern Afghanistan could craft a novel as heartbreaking, real and compelling as Patricia McArdle’s Farishta."


"Farishta is that rare novel that I sacrifice precious hours of sleep for. Its protagonist is an endearing woman whom I bonded with deeply, and the plot engaged me from the book’s opening paragraphs all the way to the bittersweet end."


One Quiet Voice


"This book was a delightful surprise. And I hope more readers discover it. Inspired by true events, this is a story of a middle-aged American diplomat who at the final stage of her mediocre career must prove herself in a high-profile way or resign herself to retirement.” Angela lost her husband and unborn child twenty years ago while stationed in Beirut when the Embassy was bombed. Drifting through a haze of alcohol and one night stands, her career of backwater postings at the State Department has stalled and left her professional career in a shambles."


-Kirkwood Public Library


"This book is about a woman who finally heals and finds her passion. The best part of this book is the sense of place. I loved seeing Northern Afghanistan through this American woman's eyes. She speaks the language fluently, is respectful of the customs, yet wants women to thrive and the country of Afghanistan to find its way."


--"Reading in Auburn

“McArdle…provides unexpected plot twists in this first novel notable for its informed view of modern Afghanistan and its affecting story of one woman making a difference.”



“Farishta” uses fiction to untangle the immense complexities of Afghanistan...and sheds light on how difficult it can be to achieve progress."


The Daily

“Farishta drew me in from the first sentence and held my attention until the last… I would without reservation recommend Farishta to all readers and book discussion groups."



"The cover of the book was perfect, exotic and mysterious at the same time... I was sorry to leave the characters and that is one of the best compliments I can pay." (Jackie)


Vulpes Libres

"...the most important thing about this book is a good female role model, for young people to see and care about.... a strong, healthy woman, doing good work in a difficult assignment." (2bpoet)


More reader reviews on Amazon

"This is a timely and interesting novel with several important messages including, of all things, solar cooking solutions for Afghanistan. Sometimes you just don't have a clue about the simplest needs of people in faraway places." (Jeanette)


More reader reviews on Goodreads

"This book is definitely an eye opener for those of us who are fortunate enough to not have had to endure the pains and sufferings of the less fortunate in third world countries, in particular, women." (Gia TheBookWorm)


More Barnes and Noble reader reviews

"Farishta, translated as “angel” in the Afghani language of Dari, combines political turmoil, tribal tensions, military and diplomatic jockeying, and a deep respect and affection for the country and people of Afghanistan."


Carlsbad Library Friends Forum