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The Last Days of Café Leila: A Novel…

The Last Days of Café Leila: A Novel

by Donia Bijan

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A bittersweet heartwarming story of three generations of an Iranian family that owns what becomes a landmark cafe in Tehran. It's a complex and beautifully written inter-generational story in post revolutionary Iran containing vivid & detailed character flashbacks. ( )
  PiperUp | May 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a copy of this through the Early Reviewer program. I enjoy a good family drama, but I found this book a little cold. The descriptions of the cafe itself and the food left me wanting more, but the family relations themselves felt a bit off. The setting of the book in Iran raises certain political and cultural implications, especially for the ending, but I felt that was all glossed over. Parts of Noor felt very real but others were harder to believe, and Lily just seemed a stereotypical rebellious teenager, and her parts were painful to read. On the other hand, I want one of those brioche rolls. Enjoyable reading, if you accept it as escapism. ( )
  duchessjlh | May 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When Noor was eighteen her father sent her and her brother out of Iran to the United States because he felt they weren't safe in the new Islamic Republic. Thirty years later Noor, along with her reluctant teenage daughter Lily, returns to Tehran for a visit. Noor's marriage has fallen apart and when she arrives at her childhood home, she finds her father is ill. As the story moves on, Noor finds out things about her family's past and tries to cope with the changes in her homeland and her rebellious daughter. It's a difficult story, fairly well written but just a tad simplistic.

In a sense it's a coming of age story for both Noor and Lily. Both make potentially disastrous decisions. At times Noor seems immature but she really doesn't seem to belong anywhere. The novels leaves us with that old question: Can you go home again? ( )
  seeword | May 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Thank you to Algonquin Books for providing me with an ARC of The Last Days of Cafe Leila.

"Cake baking is a bittersweet thing. There are so many reasons to be in the kitchen with a sieve and a cup of flour, and what one baker does, another cannot because it reminds him of something or someone. Baking is always with good intentions and good cake can never be anything but that, a special treat, whether the eggs came from a backyard coop or a supermarket shelf, or perhaps there wasn't quite a cup of sugar but just enough. There's no best way to make a birthday cake, but tenacity helps, as does optimism."

Following the dissolution of her marriage and feeling adrift, Noor returns to her native Tehran in search of direction with her difficult teenage daughter in tow. In Iran, Noor is confronted with an aging father and a homeland she scarcely recognizes, but for her family's cherished Cafe Leila, which has weathered many years of death, war, and heartache. So begins a journey for Noor and stubborn Lily as they are enveloped in a foreign culture and struggle for purchase in their changing lives. A stirring story of family, food, and coming home.

Bijan's voice is elegant, passionate, and soulful. I delighted in this narrative, at times joyous, at others tragic, as Noor and her daughter Lily experience both the richness and turbulence of a country in upheaval. Post revolutionary Iran was a poignant backdrop for this exquisite story and Bijan's truly stunning descriptions of Persian cuisine and its cultural weight were a pleasure to experience. ( )
  GennaC | May 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a lovely story about food, family and country. The images of a country lost were stunning. The food will make you want to find the nearest Persian restaurant, and the family relations are worldwide. I did not understand the main character’s action at the conclusion of this book and worry that I missed something. Simply put, highly recommended and make your own conclusion about the main character’s decisions.
Thank you to Librarything.com for a copy of this delightful book. ( )
  jtsolakos | May 6, 2017 |
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