The Holy Woman

The Holy Woman Book Cover A


The Holy Woman, Qaisra Shahraz’s first novel published in 2001, is a powerful saga of love & family politics, set in five countries.

“A lean, lyrical meditation on tradition and independence, sensuality & sacrifice, set against the moral background of modern day Pakistan, Shahraz’s debut beguiles throughout.”

The Times

Set in contemporary Pakistan, London and Egypt, this is an epic tale of  a modern young Pakistani woman caught between love of a man, her family, and feudal tradition.

Qaisra Shahraz skilfully depicts the rural world of village life in Sindh, the modern world of Karachi, and London and Egypt also playing their parts.She draws the reader into the lives of the characters, bringing the complexities and contrasts of modern Pakistan beautifully to life.

Central to the theme of the story is the role of the Burkha – something the book examines very closely – from its significance to the wearer, and perception of that item of clothing is discussed throughout the book in a beautiful way. The reader comes to gradually understand the many levels of complexity that surround the Burkha,  developing a greater understanding of Pakistani and Muslim culture.

The other central theme, and one which transcends all cultures, is that of love; romantic love, love for your parents, and love for the traditions which have grown and shaped the central characters.


‘An international bestseller… an extraordinary story of love and betrayal in rural Pakistan’
Manchester Evening News

‘An absorbing adventure, from a vivid imagination’


‘A stunning debut novel – an intricate study of love, family, politics and sacrifice’

Eastern Eye

‘Gripping, hugely involving, and very satisfying’

Kate Mosse


Critical essays on The Holy Woman are available in textbook: The Holy and The Unholy: Critical Essays on Qaisra Shahraz’s Fiction


To order your print or E-Book copy of The Holy Woman, click the link to your country: (UK) (US)

  Barnes & Noble (US)

Easons (IRE)

 Angus & Robertson (AU)

For international translated editions of Qaisra Shahraz’s books, click on Published Works



8 Responses to The Holy Woman

  1. sabeehah says:

    Just a quick note to say I have read and re-read The Holy Woman, again and again. Absolutely love the book:)

  2. Sophia D says:

    Absolutely fanataisc book – I wasn’t able to put it down- have got my sisters to start reading it too! It takes a lot for a book to be something which I can’t put down!

    • Memona says:

      Thank you so much Sophia, I’m so glad that you enjoyed the Holy Woman
      Many other reviewers have said the same ie they’ve not been able to put the book down.

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