The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, read by Shohreh Aghdashloo, Publisher: Hachette Audio; Unabridged edition (June 5, 2007), ISBN-10: 1594839123
Rating: 4 of 5 STARs
Source: Public Library random pick
This is another book that I liked better once I knew more about the author and her writing process. The last CD has an interview with the author in which she explains her background and why she wrote her debut novel about a young girl in a 17th century Persian village. Her main agenda, it seems, was for Americans to understand more about Iranians, their history, and their lives - especially women's. I think she definitely accomplished that for me. I feel like I learned a lot about a part of the world and people that I really don't know much about - other than what I see on the news.
Description from the book cover:
At the age of fourteen, a young woman in 17th-century Persia believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, collapsing in the field where he works with the other men from their village, there is no hope for a dowry. Alone and penniless, she and her grieving mother are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven,meant, of course, for her married life, to pay for their journey to Isfahan. There they will work as servants for her uncle Gostaham, a rich rug designer in the court of the Shah, and be lorded over by Gostaham's wife. Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant weaver of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her artistic gift flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage with a man who will never take her as his first wife, the young woman is faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to maintain it. Amirrezvani infuses her story with lush detail, brilliantly bringing to life the sights sounds and life of 17th-century Isfahan: The dazzling architecture; the exotic Persian foods; the breathtakingly beautiful rugs. A sweeping love story, a powerful coming-of-age story, and a luminous portrait of a city, this is a universal tale of one woman's struggle to live a life of her choosing.
In the middle of the book, I almost stopped listening because I felt like I was in the middle of a Harlequin Romance on steroids. So beware. But, Amirrezvani redeemed herself and I stuck with it. The descriptions of Persian run design and knotting was fascinating. As were the six fables interspersed through the book, four of which are from ancient Iranian literature and two were made up by the author.
And the reader.... was... FABULOUS! What talent! This review says it best:
In a low, lush, Persian-petaled voice worthy of Scheherazade, reader Shohreh Aghdashloo takes us into the exotic world Amirrezvani has created. (Book Page Sukey Howard 2008)
So - I would definitely recommend this audio book - but with the caveat that there are a good many sexually explicit scenes. And I will be looking for more novels from this author in the future.