Tender yet provocative, it’s a captivating and compassionate exploration of the lives and situations of three very different women separated by social class, work, culture and geography ... One of the greatest challenges for novels with multiple narratives is that it’s rare for all storylines and characters to be equally compelling. The Braid suffers no such issue; each heroine shines when she is the focus, each plight feels urgent, vital and interesting. Colombani’s cinematic background serves her well as the plot moves swiftly through succinct and surprising vignettes. Readers will race to see how (or if) each woman will overcome the considerable obstacles she faces and how their lives will ultimately intertwine. Colombani’s writing is earnest and unobtrusive, and her words are largely in service of keeping the story humming along, with the occasional poetic flourish. There is none of the awkwardness that can sometimes stymie literature in translation. A soul-expanding novel of hope and resiliency, The Braid is a celebration of womanhood, connection and the power of perseverance.
Colombani’s debut is a beautiful story about women, strength, faith, and sacrifice ... These women are worlds apart, but strands of hair braid them together. This beautifully written novel will leave readers entranced and empowered[.]
...[an] arresting debut ... Suspense builds for each of these women as they struggle to make decisions in the face of their harsh realities. Intriguing strands connect the three ... A sense of urgency to learn how the stories will be resolved drives the fast-paced narrative. Each character’s intimate perspective elucidates the courage that exists in every woman’s life, regardless of age, culture, or station.
Colombani’s prowess as a film and theater writer is on full display. The prose hums along without fuss, and several chapters end with terrific suspense. Only occasionally does the story stall, as when the author shoehorns in exposition to make a point about gender inequality or when she oversteps by making too direct a comparison between characters’ lives. Smita's, Giulia's, and Sarah’s individual stories and how they’re interconnected are strong enough elements on their own without any false equivalencies. While the novel presents a romanticized version of globalization, it’s unapologetic about its agenda of celebrating the bonds of womanhood. The story’s masterful structure and plotting more than make up for the narrative’s rose-colored glasses. An impeccably crafted love letter to the oft-unseen and ignored work of women across the world.