This is a very interesting and well written story of an Iranian woman's conflict between her English life and her original life in Iran. Conflict arises between the mother and her daughter; the mother's return to Iran. It traces the mother's childhood in Iran; the daughter's confusion re her mother's Iranian life. This is an excellent novel which will stay with you a long time. I learned a lot more about Iran and the intensity of the customs.
I enjoyed the story quite a bit but in the end it is still about the suppression of freedom, the hard won freedom and the overwhelming sense of guilt and not being true to oneself. Or is really about not being true to the expections of one's stringent cultural beliefs. In the end it turns out that those who won or took their freedom can not forgive or forget what was left behind.
When you are first introduced to Maryam and her daughter Sara, you really don't understand the deep ripples that will emanate from an accident with terrible consequences. Maryam has wounds that she has carried her whole life and only one thing will cure them - Sara has no idea that her Iranian-born mother bears deep scars and sees only the impact that her behavior has on her, her unborn baby and her father.
The book is a touching view of the meaning of family and the implications of our parents actions on our lives and the lives of our children.
I liked this book. It's an intriguing story that wraps you up in the lives of a mother and daughter and others around them. And since I didn't know much about Iranian culture before I read this book, Crowther really does take you to a another world.
This is one of my top books of 2008. This book was so sad and haunting and yet written absolutely beautifully. The book really made me realize that people in other countries, even places we consider enemies of the US like Iran, are more like us than we know. They just want to be left alone to live their lives the way they want, in peace and quiet. We may not like or understand their way of life and they may not like ours, but that doesn't give us the right to judge or condemn them for it. I felt bad for Maryam for being oppressed as a young woman growing up in Iran, but she wasn't any happier when she escaped that life and moved to England. She and her daughter were always torn between the two countries and neither one of them could be whole until she learned to embrace both parts of her heritage. It was terrible the way Maryam's father treated her like chattel he could buy and sell, but I loved the way both of the men she loved, her English husband and her Iranian lover, both gave her freedom to decide for herself which life/which man she would choose in the end.
When I finished this book I read over the reviews here on LT. I'm glad I am not the only one who found the writing less than wonderful. Too often the narration shifted mid-paragraph from one character to another. Too often a paragraph needed to be reread to be sure which "she" was in play. It wasn't the cultural differences of either English vs American usage, or the unfamiliarity of the Iranian. Usually it was just poorly written (and/or edited).
As well as another reviewer, by the end of the story I had come round again to finding the mother as unsympathetic a character as she was in the beginning, following the opening shocking events (despite the atrocities inflicted upon her by her father and other males of her country revealed through the course of the story), having used the husband and finally cast him aside no less callously as she had been cast aside as a young girl.
The most unbelievable part of the story, however -- beyond even the daughter becoming pregnant again -- is the imagined interaction of Maryam with the father who, for the sake of his own pride, threw her out of her home, to his wolfish soldiers, and out of her country. "I'm sorry it's taken so long, and if you've been sad and alone," she imagines him saying to her.
A beautiful, lyrical, haunting read. The dialogue is a bit rough in some patches, but that doesn't detract from the deliciousness of the prose.