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During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by…

During the Reign of the Queen of Persia (1983)

by Joan Chase

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230477,430 (3.63)28



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The "Queen of Persia" is Lil/Gran, the matriarch of an Ohio farm family in the mid 1900s. Gran had 5 daughters and 4 of her granddaughters spend their summers and some years at the farm. The five daughters also keep coming back to the family home, when fallen on hard times financially, after divorces, when ill, or just to visit. They are all drawn back repeatedly. One of the first generation of sisters, Grace, gets breast cancer and her illness and death is central to the book. She is mother to two of the four girls growing up in the home. But outside the spectre of death, we also see the four girls growing up. Their experiences are related in a disjointed manner, but a complete picture of girlhood emerges nonetheless.

One of the interesting things for me was the narration of the book. It's a first person narration, but from the point of view of all four girls as a collective, so the dominant pronoun is "we". All of the older generation of daughters are referred to as "Aunt so and so", even though some of these Aunts are mother to some of the narrators. I was confused at first, but came to really like it. It's an interesting way of describing identity, and I can't really recall another book that has used this same technique. I guess sort of like a greek chorus, but they weren't commentating on events, they were living them.

This won't be for everyone - it's a bit quirky and a bit depressing - but I quite liked it. ( )
  japaul22 | Apr 2, 2019 |
This was, yes, fabulous, as I was told it would be—thanks to all my good reading friends for that recommendation. I love a book where the writing is so strong it bleeds over into the day-to-day personal narrative in your head and makes it that much more vibrant and beautiful, and this book did just that. Really, really lovely. Beautiful images of the natural world and great, spiky, complex characterizations of the people. ( )
1 vote lisapeet | Feb 21, 2019 |
I found both the story and the writing disjointed. Even the good plot ciouldn't save it. ( )
  cacky | May 9, 2014 |
stupid title. good story. i was a little confused as to who was whose kid. who is the author? ( )
  mahallett | Jul 29, 2008 |
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In northern Ohio there is a county of some hundred thousand arable acres which breaks with the lake region flatland and begins to roll and climb, and to change into rural settings: roadside clusters of houses, small settlements that repose on the edge of nowhere, single lane bridges, backwater country stores with a single rusting gas pump, barns advertising Mail Pouch in frayed and faded postings.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345410467, Paperback)

"Daily life exhilarated with the richness and evocativeness of poetry."


The novel that is sweeping the country. A beautiful story of 20th-century womanhood, of Gram, the Queen of Persia herself, who rules a house where five daughters and four granddaughters spin out the tragedies and triumphs of rural life in the 1950's.

From the Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The Queen of Persia is not an exotic figure but a fierce Ohio farmwife who presides over a household of daughters and granddaughters. A powerful story about family ties and tensions...." -- Back cover.

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