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The Dressmaker of Khair Khana ~Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a very interesting story of how 5 sisters survived and succeeded in remaining safe during the occupation of the Taliban of Kabul, Afghanistan.  The book tells how educated women figured out how to remain safe and how to include their community in surviving the strict and oft times horrific treatment by the new regime.   This is a story of how women keep a culture continuing and providing for their family and especially their children’s needs.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is primarily the story of one young entrepreneur who actually takes big risks and blossoms after her father challenges her to help her younger sisters survive and to assist the community in need.   At first, she organizes a book exchange program so that all the women in her neighborhood can keep learning despite the boredom of being sentenced to their own homes.  Her older sister moves into the family home with her 4 young children (one set of newborn, frail twins) and this sister is a talented teacher and dress designer/tailor.   As the men of the households must disappear to remain safe these two sisters, the marketer and the tailor, must think ahead and figure out what needs to be done to feed all the children and to survive.

Under the chadri, with only a tiny screen for vision the young woman, Kamila would venture forth with her 14 year old brother as her chaperone to figure out what their world needed and how this group could provide it.   With the war still going on in the north, it became apparent that the women who could design and sew dresses and pantsuits which complied would get paid for their efforts.

At first the sewing needed to be accomplished by hand, because there were not enough machines and only electricity for a few hours each day.   They taught each other how.  Kamila learned to go to further away markets to obtain fabric which was more cost effective and would increase income.  They set up an apprentice program for other women in the neighborhood and they designed work schedules which would not draw attention to women coming and going from their residence.

Men not related to women were not allowed to speak to a woman and so Kamila and her young brother had to be very careful about how they worked.

I think this book elevates women all over the world.  As Kamila has gone forward to become part of the UN team and a microloan expert in assisting other women to use their skills and build their communities, her story goes on to inspire other women and draw attention to the “quiet” women all over the planet who just get busy and roll up their sleeves and figure out how to make the world a better place.

“Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, the author, is a Fellow and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor-at-large at Newsweek and the Daily Beast.  Her reporting on conflict and post-conflict zones – including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Rwanda – has been published in the New York Times, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere.“  from the book jacket


Lemmon at TEDx

This book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List and is well worth the read to increase understanding, lift up women and inspire you to be your best.   I highly recommend the Dressmaker of Khair Khana.

“ A celebration of women in the world over.”    People Magazine

This book was sent to me for review by TLC online book tours and Harper Press
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How do you inspire others in your life?  How do you remain safe in tough circumstances?

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Smartest Woman I Know
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22 Responses to “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana ~Gayle Tzemach Lemmon”

  1. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I’d love to read this book one day – it sounds fascinating .. great review and I love Gayle Lemmon’s efforts in these countries where women need outlets. I’m pleased she’s promoting the microloan system ..

    I must watch the TedX talk sometime ..

    Cheers Hilary

    Patricia Reply:

    It was a great book and a good journalistic writer – so she covered her tracks and knew what she was talking about and her interviews led to great story telling.

    I think you would truly enjoy this book Hilary – very much.

  2. Rossalie Says:

    Hi Pat…This looks really interesting post…Well I think a lot of people will love to know more about this…

    Patricia Reply:

    Very good book – think you would enjoy it

  3. Deborah Barker Says:

    This is a book that i would love to read. Thank you for highlighting it and reviewing it so succinctly Patricia. It will be added to my list of ‘must reads’. :-)

    Patricia Reply:

    I think you would like this book very much.
    I found it a bit promoting of the role of Condolezza Rice – I think the author was paid by the State Department here to write this book. but that is just my prejudice. It is a good book

  4. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – You’ve got a great way of dangling literary carrots! Wonderful review, thank you.

    Patricia Reply:

    I am just loving all the books that TLC tours is sending me to review – I feel like I am learning so much and my brain is on fire!

    You are welcome…thank you for coming by

  5. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia! Great review as usual. Wish I had time for books like this – so busy with reading, research and studying in school right now I’m afraid I’m a bit of a bore.

    Patricia Reply:

    the book reviews are me being in school – get this one for the cabin!?

    I am on a cup of coconut milk every day right now….excited to come over and read your post!
    Patricia recently posted..The Dressmaker of Khair Khana ~Gayle Tzemach LemmonMy Profile

  6. Sara Says:

    Wow. Thanks for the great review and recommendation. This book sounds right up my reading alley:~)

    Hope all is well with you.
    Sara recently posted..Gossip!My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    It would be a book you would truly like reading I am sure…very interesting indeed – and great praise for the entrepreneurs to the rescue…

    All is well here and just getting better by the day. Though my last yoga class is this week and that just makes me a bit sad.

    Gayle Reply:

    Thanks for a review that got right to the story’s heart. Women do make a difference all over the world, including here at home, and so rarely do we acknowledge their hard work.
    Sending warm wishes,
    Gayle Lemmon

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you so much for coming by and commenting – You wrote an amazing story which needs to be shared and brought to light.
    Patricia recently posted..The Dressmaker of Khair Khana ~Gayle Tzemach LemmonMy Profile

  7. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    This sounds like an inspiring read for sure. Thanks for being on the tour! I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

    Patricia Reply:

    I am leaving the review up all week because I hope it gets plenty of reads and WOW I was so surprised to find it on facebook – I will go back and see if I can get my thankful comment to stick this time?

    Thank you for the shout out about this great book

  8. Maryden25 Says:

    Women are real brave. I would love to read this book. I am so hooked into fashion wherein EVERY field of it i’d love to know.
    Maryden25 recently posted..Motivation To Lose WeightMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Maryden 25,
    Even in the time of war and Religious restrictions the women in Afghanistan wanted lovely clothing, particularly for weddings. I wondered what their designs look like – the descriptions were very good
    I think you would like this book

  9. Sam Juliano Says:

    It does indeed seem like a book for women to rally around, as it inspires and shows resilience. I will certainly recommend it to Lucille. In any case there is a special quality to what these girls achiece in that hotbed of strife and severe oppression.

    You’ve penned one of your finest pieces here Patricia!
    Sam Juliano recently posted..1932 – Best Picture, Director, Short, Actor, Actress, S.Actor, S.Actress – RESULTSMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you for your kind words – it is quite the book and I am going to have my book groups read it this year and I am working on getting a set of copies for our High School Library – I think it is that important for women to read…men too

    They were not victims and used their talents and education to great purpose.

  10. Sandra92 Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    I’m so excited to have your great creation, this book is very interesting…

  11. TLC Presents: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana Review | BOOK CLUB CLASSICS! Says:

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