Wednesday, October 22, 2014

THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS by Anita Amirrezvani

In seventeenth century Iran, our unnamed narrator has reached the marriageable age of fourteen.  When her father dies, she and her mother basically become servants in the home of her father’s half-brother and his tyrannical wife.  The young narrator makes so many unforgiveable blunders that she is forced into a temporary marriage, which will bring in a little money, but the loss of her virginity will make finding a permanent husband that much more unlikely.  The upside is that the narrator is becoming an accomplished Persian rug maker, with some excellent advice regarding design and color from her uncle, who makes carpets for the Shah.  Finally, our narrator’s transgressions, which include lying and forgery, invoke the ire of the uncle’s wife to the point that she and her mother have to vacate the premises.  To say that our girl is impetuous and naïve is an understatement.  Considering the limited options available to women and the precariousness of the narrator’s situation, her behavior is bewilderingly outrageous and more than a little exasperating.  In fact, I found her to be not quite believable in this regard.  She foolishly puts her and her mother’s situation at risk time and time again, apparently thinking each time that no one will discover her deceits.  Even a fourteen-year-old should be able to learn from her mistakes.  When she destroys a rug that she was making, knowing that her uncle had paid for the wool yarn, what does she think will happen?  The other characteristic of this book that I did not like is that the author frequently interrupts the story with an Iranian fable, not all of which are authentic.  These are way too lengthy and not at all vital to the plot.  I realize that the author is trying to evoke a mood appropriate to the setting, but I read each of these tales with the sense that I was wasting my time.

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