And what's more it's going to explode all around us soon. And I can't wait!" To gossips like Masi Fiza, Gulbahar and Haider's family is the gift that keeps on giving. They're the wealthy landowners in this fictional Pakistani village, and their private lives became the talk of the town when their daughter, Laila, eloped with the boy who looked after her father's horses. Laila is dead to her parents after that, even though Gulbahar is tortured by the thought of never meeting her granddaughter, "the beautiful fairy", and her son, Arslan, deeply resents being cut off from his beloved sister.
That was all some years ago. But now the family's troubles are kicking off again with the return of Gulbahar's nephew, Ismail. He is back in Pakistan, supposedly to marry his cousin, Saher, but hasn't counted on Daniela, the white English woman he secretly married, catching the same flight to surprise him, scandalise his family and outrage Arslan.
It's a tangled tale, with sisters, cousins, lifelong friends and servants all trying to come to terms with the aforementioned explosive situation. Suspicions and resentments which have been buried for years are forced to the surface, and some kind of mass reconciliation is the only answer. But that's easier said than done, and this 460-page novel is the story of the bumpy road these headstrong characters have to negotiate to get there.
Revolt may seem a little long for a novel that takes place over quite a short space of time, but Shahraz grasps the opportunity to flesh out her players and ensure that, even on the margins of the action, there are vibrant characters like the mischievous Masi Fiza, the loyal but suggestible servant Begum and fiery Zeinab the quiltmaker. Wooden dialogue lets the side down, with Daniela's in particular being poor and unconvincing. Nevertheless, this story of family, friendship and conflicted loyalties is chaotic and unpredictable enough, and so high on life and love, that it more than justifies its length.