Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Blood of Flowers, by Anita Amirrezvani

(hb; 2007)

From the inside flap:

"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 a face a life lived at the whim of others..."

Review:

Exotic, romantic and expeditiously written, there are few surprising twists, but Amirrezvani's assured narrative flow still bedazzles, like the colors and designs of the carpets that so enthrall her unnamed protagonist. It's a pleasure to watch her heroine mature into an artisan -- and a woman -- of the noblest sort: not only that, but The Blood of Flowers is an inspirational, fascinating glimpse into a different culture at what was a pivotal historical period for Iran (then called Persia).

Check it out.

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