With the publication of Khalid Hosseinis The Thousand Splendid Suns and Lisa Sees (author of The Snow Flower and Secret Fan) newest novel, Peony in Love, it might be easy to overlook a hidden gem in Amita Amirrezvanis new novel, The Blood of Flowers. I began the book early in the morning and could not come up for air until I had finished all 384 pages. 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 ...
The heroine of The Blood of Flowers ends up in a temporary marriage called a sigheh. Like many aspects of Islam the sigheh is not only controversial but open to interpretation. The practice, which is still alive and well in many parts of the Muslim world, dates back before Islam to Arab tribes, particularly to those involved in long distance trade. Sigheh allows a man and woman to marry for a temporary period. While a man is limited to four permanent wives there are no limits on the number of temporary wives he can have.
The children born of a sigheh marriage are considered legitimate (assuming the father acknowledges their existence) and those who promote it say that it combats immorality. In modern-day Iran, sigheh...
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