Beneath the holy
mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small,
sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland
looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan
Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that
in Ballinacroagh, a land of "crazed sheep and dizzying roads," they might
finally find a home.
From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about
creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron
float through the streetsan exotic aroma that announces the opening of the
Babylon Café, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage
and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of
Ballinacroagh's uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old
pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied--and by
foreigners, no less.
But the mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and
soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil
soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava--and with the transformation in her
sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be
And in the stand-up-comedian-turned-priest Father Fergal Mahoney, the gentle,
lonely widow Estelle Delmonico, and the headstrong hairdresser Fiona Athey, the
sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of
less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. But the idyll is soon broken when
the past rushes back to threaten the Amnipours once more, and the lives they
left behind in revolution-era Iran bleed into the present.
Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumphs of two distinct
cultures, Pomegranate Soup is an infectious novel of magical realism.
This richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes, is a delectable
journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.
If you liked Joanne Harris's Chocolat, you're going to love Pomegranate Soup - a tale as warm and vibrant as the bubbling samovar around which the cafe hums; but don't be mistaken into thinking that just because this first novel is as comforting as a good cup of tea that it is not without substance. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Three sisters who have fled their native Iran set up a Persian cafe in their new home, the tiny town of Ballinacroagh, Ireland. After initial suspicion, the townsfolk learn to love the shop with its spicy fragrances and exotic foods. Marsha Mehran describes the food in mouthwatering detail--with a dash of magic realism.
Booklist - Mark Knoblauch
To give the reader a better appreciation for the pivotal role of food in the novel, Mehran includes recipes for some Iranian specialties: stuffed grape leaves, elephant ear pastries, and the title's pomegranate soup. Stark contrasts between the sisters' lives in Iran and Ireland and between the Irish and Persian cultures energize Mehran's tale.
Mehran's mauve prose gets especially purple sometimes but fans of cooking....overcomes-cultural-differences stories will savor the tale, not to mention the 13 recipes, including one for pomegranate soup.
The mix of cutesy and harsh can be awkward, but first-timer Mehran's lighthearted voice will win readers over.
Personal demons and questioned loyalties play out like a movie on the page (think Joanne Harris's Chocolat), making the reader feel like an eyewitness to all the events. A satisfying summer read or book club pick; highly recommended.
Frank Delaney, author of Ireland
Few novels have such charm, such fusion. Marsha Mehran takes one of the great staples of literature, food and its creation, and makes it the vehicle of a delightful, subtle fairytale. With a deep understanding of opposites such as whimsy and poignancy, she delivers a moving and very amusing enquiry into whether differences between peoples exist at all.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Sarah T A tried and tested recipe This book's formula is not original, it is exactly the same as Chocolat. However, it is a good format that delivers an enjoyable and unchallenging read. The addition of recipes adds cultural colour and interest, and it taps into our love and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kay Great Little Book This was a facinationg story of three sisters from Iran who open a cafe in a tiny town in Ireland. The characters come alive and are people you would find in your own neighborhood.
I found most interesting and fun, the recipes that are... Read More
Marsha Mehran was
born in Iran, on the eve of the
Islamic Revolution. Amidst the
increasing chaos her parents
decided to emigrate to America -
they were luckier than most as
they had a modest nest egg and
letters of acceptance from the
University of Arizona, but they
needed visas. On November 4,
1979, her father planned to file
their visa applications with the
American Embassy, but a band of
revolutionary students bombarded
the consulate and took the
employees hostage. This
momentous turn of events, known
to all Iranians as 'The
Revolution', launched her family
into a peripatetic existence
that crossed five continents,
numerous cultures, and equipped
her with a trunk full of
adventures, both public and
A timeless novel of a straitlaced village's awakening to joy and sensuality - every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere.
Written in a lush, lyrical style, infused with the flavors and scents of Middle Eastern food, and spiced with history and fable, Crescent is a sensuous love story and a gripping tale of risk and commitment. The reading guide includes a number of recipes to share with friends and family!
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