After the death of her husband Akbar Ahmad, Mona finds herself settling ambivalently into a new life. But the calm rhythm of her days–gardening, cooking, time with her neighbours and family in Karachi–is upset by the appearance of Salamat Ali, the new tenant in her friend Mrs. Baig’s house. Vivacious, friendly, and at times almost impertinent, Salamat Ali is both a breath of fresh air and a disconcerting new presence in Mona’s life, and their awkward meetings always seem to end in embarrassment or misunderstanding. When Salamat Ali, encouraged by Mrs. Baig, presents Mona with a marriage proposal, she is forced to consider what kind of future she wishes to make for herself–and what her past with Akbar Ahmad really means.
The possibility of Mona marrying Salamat Ali shocks her grown daughters Tanya and Amber, and scandalizes her extended family, according to whom Mona’s happiness comes second to what people say about widows who remarry. As Mona negotiates the complex web of tradition-bound in-laws and gossiping, interfering relatives, she finds Salamat Ali waking her to the pleasures of life that thirty years with her dour first husband all but smothered. But if Salamat Ali helps her discover something essential, he also exposes her to new risks, and new dangers.
The Story of a Widow is a beautifully observant novel, one that pays careful attention to the delicate movements of the heart in romantic and family life. But it is equally concerned with the mores of a society in which traditional roles both support and constrain men and–particularly–women. Gently humorous and profoundly perceptive, The Story of a Widow is the moving tale of a woman’s discovery of her voice, and herself.