In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.
Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.
In the spring of the year that I was supposed to be married, a comet launched itself over the skies of my village. It was brighter than any comet we had ever seen, and more evil. Night after night, as it crawled across our skies spraying its cold white seeds of sorrow, we tried to decipher the fearsome messages of the stars. Hajj Ali, the most learned man in our village, traveled to Isfahan to fetch a copy of the chief astronomers almanac so we would know what calamities to expect.
The evening he returned, the people of my village began assembling outside to listen to the predictions for the months ahead. My parents and I stood near the old cypress, the only tree in our village, which was decorated with strips of cloth marking peoples vows. Everyone was looking upward at the stars, their chins pointing toward the sky, their faces grave. I was small enough to see under Hajj Alis big white beard, which looked like a tuft of desert scrub. My mother, ...
Part Arabian nights fairytale, part historical fiction, and part feminist treatise, this novel combines different motifs in a delightful and captivating manner. Written in plain, earthy, yet colorful prose, interspersed with Persian folktales, Amirrzvani's strengths come from her ability to make the sounds, smells, and architecture of this ancient Persian world come alive.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1342 words).
A Short History of Ancient
Evidence of settled communities in Iran date back to at least the 5th millennium BC (as evidenced by 7,000 year-old wine jars that have been excavated in the Zagros Mountains).
Cyrus the Great is credited with establishing the first unified empire during his 21 year reign beginning in 550 BCE. He is also remembered for the Cyrus Cylinder (discovered in the 19th century and housed in the British Museum) which some consider to be the "...
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