The Girl from the Garden Summary and Reviews

The Girl from the Garden

by Parnaz Foroutan

The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2015
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

For all his wealth and success, Asher Malacouti - the head of a prosperous Jewish family living in the Iranian town of Kermanshah - cannot have the one thing he desires above all: a male son. His young wife Rakhel, trapped in an oppressive marriage at a time when a woman's worth is measured by her fertility, is made desperate by her failure to conceive, and grows jealous and vindictive.

Her despair is compounded by her sister-in-law Khorsheed's pregnancy and her husband's growing desire for Kokab, his cousin's wife. Frustrated by his wife's inability to bear him an heir, Asher makes a fateful choice that will shatter the household and drive Rakhel to dark extremes to save herself and preserve her status within the family.

Witnessed through the memories of the family's only surviving daughter, Mahboubeh, now an elderly woman living in Los Angeles, The Girl from the Garden unfolds the complex, tragic history of her family in a long-lost Iran of generations past. Haunting, suspenseful and inspired by events in the author's own family, it is an evocative and poignant exploration of sacrifice, betrayal, and the indelible legacy of the families that forge us.

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"Starred Review. The framework of flashbacks within flashbacks (present-day Mahboubeh, Mahboubeh as a young girl, Rakhel as a young woman) can be difficult to navigate, but Rakhel's slow descent into darkness exhilaratingly propels the plot, and Foroutan's sumptuous prose paints a vivid portrait of a rarely explored historical and cultural setting." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. In this stunning first novel, Foroutan draws on her own family history to integrate the lore and traditions of old Iran. Suspenseful and haunting, this riveting story of jealousy, sacrifice, and betrayal and the intimately drawn characters within will not be easily forgotten." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Foroutan's lyrical debut offers a mosaic of stories…Deftly structured, this novel traces those complications to their core, exposing the pain, oppressive forces, and difficult allegiances within and without the estate, while lending grace through the delicacy of its observation." - Kirkus

"Though Foroutan is better at writing about the past than the present (the portrait of modern-day Mahboubeh is sketchy and leaves much to be desired—perhaps another novel?), she clearly has a gift for storytelling. Readers who enjoyed Nadia Hashimi's The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and similar tales of young women overcoming personal obstacles will certainly appreciate." - Library Journal

"A powerful and moving novel about the devastating choices women face when their worth is tied to their wombs but not themselves. Parnaz Foroutan takes the timeless themes of love, honor, sacrifice and betrayal and makes them new." - Gloria Steinem

"The Girl from the Garden is a spectacular novel - a riveting, finely wrought portrait of loss, longing, and passion in the intimate lives of an extended family in Iran. Foroutan is a writer of astounding talent, and her tale is moving and unforgettable." - Carolina De Robertis, author of The Invisible Mountain

"Set against the tumultuous backdrop of early 20th century Iran, The Girl from the Garden is an evocative tale of loss, betrayal and family ties. Parnaz Foroutan is a stunning new literary talent, and her debut novel is a gift to readers everywhere." - Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot

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Parnaz Foroutan was born in Iran and spent her early childhood there. She received PEN USA's Emerging Voices fellowship for this novel, which was inspired by her own family history. She has been named to the Hedgebrook fellowship and residency, and received funding from the Elizabeth George Foundation, among other institutions. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.

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