Friday, July 13, 2007

The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani


The Blood of Flowers
Anita Amirrezvani
Little, Brown and Company

Historical Fiction

The comet appeared over the 17th century Persian village in the spring. Fearful inhabitants waited anxiously for the village wise man to decipher the portents. He tells the villagers that this will be a mixed year, full of strangely immoral behavior and other bad behavior. For the nameless fourteen-year-old narrator, this is not good. She planned to be married that year. But all of her plans change in an instant when her father dies suddenly.

Left alone in the world, the narrator and her mother must leave their tiny village and accept the help of their only living relative. Gostaham, who lives in the huge city of Isfahan, is a wealthy master carpet maker, much favored by the shah. In the house of Gostaham and his wife, the narrator and her mother live as servants under the direction of the wife. Her only hope of anything like a marriage now is to enter into a three-month-long contract that guarantees her nothing.

With no son to teach, Gostaham takes the narrator under his wing. As a woman, she cannot work in the rug workshop, but her love for the colors and designs, and her skill at knotting the wool, make her a valuable assistant. In time, she dares to hope that, one day, her skill as a rug maker will enable her to build a life for herself and free her mother from the servitude in which she labors.

It seems like a simple story, but the author deftly weaves layers, texture and dimension throughout the novel. The details about how women lived and interacted in society during this place and time are fascinating. The descriptions of everything from the tiny, dusty village, to the enormous capital city to the details and hues of a rug, are beautifully evocative. The narrator is nameless, but her inner life is rich with determination and a will to better her lot and that of her mother. It’s clear that the ties of family, like the knots in a rug, are what really hold people together.

Rating: 8
June 2007
ISBN# 978-0-316-06576-4 (hardcover)

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