Review of THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS by Anita Amirrezvani
Little, Brown and Company, June 2007
When her father dies suddenly, a girl and her mother are left destitute in 17th Century Persia. Selling the carpet they had hoped would earn the girl's dowry, the two travel to Isfahan where the girl's uncle lives. He is happy to see her interest in carpet making and encourages her, but his wife treats both the girl and her mother as servants. When they sell the girl into a temporary marriage, her fortune seems made, but bad luck, impulsive decisions, and the Aunt's greed turn against the girl and her mother.
Author Anita Amirrezvani creates a work of magical realism. Set in a world somewhere between reality and fantasy, Amirrezvani mixes narative with fairy tales, heaps one disaster after another on the girl's head until she is forced to resort to begging. The girl's list of bad luck is not really believable, but her rash decisions certainly make each twist in fortune that much worse.
Amirrezvani seems to have chosen each word with care--like each knot of one of the carpets she describes. The result is a beautiful work and a pleasure to read.
Ultimately the girl needs to find a balance between independence and dependence. Without the teachings, support, and encouragement of her uncle, she would have fallen ever deeper into disaster--yet at times, she seems to believe that she did everything herself. And some of the disasters, particularly her uncle's decision to give away her first carpet without compensating her seem farfetched considering what we know of his character.
I recommend sitting down with THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS on a rainy day when you don't want to leave the house. It's not a fast-paced read, but it is compelling and fascinating.
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