What a better way to spend a weekend than curled up with a good book? I came down with a bad case of stomach ickiness late Thursday night and took the weekend to drink as much ginger ale as humanly possible and allow my normally iron Irish stomach to calm down a bit. I finally finished up my summer reading list early last week and took a few days to go through and catch up on my blogroll. When I realized I would be laid up for a few days, I shopped my bookshelf a bit and found this little gem on my to-read shelf (yep, I’ve got one of those, be jealous) and dug in.
I have to say I am really pleasantly surprised. I recall picking this book up at the under $5 table at Barnes & Noble because I really love a good woman-centric period piece and I so loved reading Anita Diamant’s ‘The Red Tent’ and the jacket blurb reminded me of it. ‘The Blood of Flowers’ by Anita Amirrezvani is a story set in 17th century Iran and follows a spirited young woman who must navigate the waters of life when the future she thought etched in stone is shattered in one devastating moment. We follow her as she journeys from her simple mountain village to Isafan, the legendary center of Iranian business and culture. Dazzled by the intoxicating sights, smells and sounds of her new home; she blossoms. Taken under the wing of her Uncle, a lead designer in the Royal Rug Studio, she hones her skills at rugmaking and learns that life, like the fine knots, colors and patterns of her rugs; is more complicated than she dreamed it could be. Love, marriage, family, honor and destiny converge to create an incredible coming-of-age story with beautifully rendered scenery and refreshingly human characters.
I think what I loved most about this story is that it kept me turning the pages deep into the night. Amirrezvani weaves a beautiful world that is both completely alien and yet strickingly familiar to me. The lead character is desperately trying to walk through her life gracefully while maintaining the roots of who she truly is. The journey she takes is deeply personal and I love how the author speaks so eloquently to the pains and pleasures of her heart. For one who enjoys reading about the daily life of another culture and time, this is a gorgeous read as well. It’s wonderful to read the descriptions of the clothing, food and daily life of women in a time and place so completely foreign to my own. Beyond the sumptuous writing and expertly decorated scenes, the story itself is really quite beautiful. To culture and people around her, this young woman is not but property, yet we watch as she breaks they walls of the box her culture has put her in. Several times her Uncle laments that she is not a boy, as her rug design and construction is so beautiful, yet she cannot step into this world that is run by men. It is a wonderfully feminist story that expertly blends an incredible culture of faith and observance with the desires and courageousness of a woman who seeks something more than marriage and children for herself. I found myself cheering for her as she grows in her trade and beauty. Wonderfully written and heartbreakingly human, Amirrezvani succeeds in lifting the veil of silence of women in this incredibly significant time in history, creating a beautiful story of destiny redefined. Life, we learn is not just a collection of moments lived, it is a story woven, shot through with love, friendship, trial and joy.