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The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers (2007)

by Anita Amirrezvani

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1,533774,792 (3.93)164
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The Blood of Flowers – Amita Amirrezvani
4 stars

“First there wasn’t and then there was. Before God, no one was.”

Once upon a time……..

The story begins with a story, a Persian fable of a young girl with the charmed future of a happy prosperous marriage.

No such future exists for the unnamed narrator of Blood of Flowers. Her story begins in her fourteenth year with the sudden death of her devoted father. It continues through a precarious year as she and her impoverished mother seek support from unsympathetic relatives. It is seventeenth century Iran in the time of Shah Abbas. This young woman has only two assets; her virginity and her talent as a designer and a maker of rugs.

This book is full of fascinating cultural background. There is naturally much detailed description of the craft and culture of rug making. The storyteller speaks eloquently of the effort and tedium of the process, but also expresses the artist’s satisfaction in creation. There is also much description of women’s work and the role of women in this culture. Various fables scattered about the story provide more of the colorful cultural background. Of particular importance to the plot is a form of temporary marriage called a ‘sigheh’. In another culture such a relationship might be called concubinage. For the story’s protagonist it creates both opportunity and the threat of disgrace. I was very impressed with the author’s ability to show, realistically, how a woman could exercise personal choice in an essentially powerless situation. This is a satisfying coming-of-age story of a young woman who manages to create a life for herself in restrictive circumstances.

I have mixed feelings about the audio version of this book as performed by Shohreh Aghdashloo. On the one hand, it is always helpful to hear correct pronunciation of foreign words. Aghdashloo’s accented reading added to my sense of being in a very different time and place. It also added more personality to the unnamed protagonist. Unfortunately, this performance was so heavily accented that I sometimes had trouble understanding the English words. Also, the reader delivered much of the text in a rather monotone, unemotional voice that did not fit with highly emotional events. I felt more connected to the suffering and triumph of the main character when I was reading her first person account. My four star rating is for the book itself. I would give the audio performance three stars.

A note for parents and teachers: Although this book is about what we would consider to be an adolescent girl, it deals with very adult themes. The depiction of the ‘marriage’ includes some explicit and erotic scenes.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This reads like a Persian Cinderella story, punctuated by traditional Iranian stories and brilliantly brought to life with vivid descriptions of the fabled city of Isfahan. The aspect of the art of carpet making was particularily interesting, as were the descriptions of customs and everyday life in seventeenth century Iran. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
a really fantastic book ( )
  fross | Jan 8, 2015 |
This novel is filled with colors and images of life in 17th century Iran. It follows one girl and her mother who leave their rural villae upon the death of their beloved father and husband. This novel details what life is like in Iran for an unmarried woman at the mercy of family. Her family is not all bad and we really root for our narrator as she negotiates a friendship, learns to design rugs and deals with a "sigheh" with a man who will not marry her. She rises from poverty where she was begging on the streets by designing and creating her own beautiful rugs. It is a spell binding tale and would have gotten a higher rating but I did not like the abrupt ending., ( )
  Smits | Nov 25, 2014 |
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"Anita Amirrezvani's first novel is about the costs and consolations of beauty, and is itself so picturesque that it often seems a striking variation on its own theme."
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In the spring of the year that I was supposed to be married, a comet launched itself over the skies of my village.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316065765, Hardcover)

In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.
Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to
a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.

"Anita Amirrezvani has written a sensuous and transporting first novel filled with the colors, tastes and fragrances of life in seventeenth-century Isfahan...Amirrezvani clearly knows and loves the ways of old Iran, and brings them to life with the cadences of a skilled story-spinner." -- Geraldine Brooks, author of March

"An engrossing, enthralling tale of a girl's quest for self-determination in the fascinating other world that was seventeenth-century Iran." -- Emma Donoghue, author of Touchy Subjects and Life Mask

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In Persia, in the seventeenth century, a young woman is forced to leave behind the life she knows and move to a new city. Her father's unexpected death has upended everything - her expectation of marriage, her plans for the future - and cast her and her mother upon the mercy of relatives in the fabled city of Isfahan." "Her uncle is a wealthy designer of carpets for the Shah's court, and the young woman is instantly drawn to his workshop. She takes in everything - the dyes, the yarns, the meanings of the thousand ancient patterns - and quickly begins designing carpets herself. This is men's work, but her uncle recognizes both her passion and her talent and allows her secretly to cross that line." "But then a single disastrous, headstrong act threatens her very existence and casts her and her mother into an even more desperate situation. She is forced into an untenable form of marriage, a marriage contract renewable monthly, for a fee, to a wealthy businessman. Caught between forces she can barely comprehend, she knows only that she must act on her own, risking everything, or face a life lived at the whim of others."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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