MLA Gold Award Site

Reading guide for Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Pomegranate Soup

by Marsha Mehran

Pomegranate Soup
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2005, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2006, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Each chapter in Pomegranate Soup begins with a traditional Persian recipe, which is then incorporated into the story like a character. Why do you think the author has chosen to highlight the food in this manner? How do you think the recipes guide the narrative? Is there one recipe that resonated more with you than the others? Why?
     
  2. We first meet the three Aminpour sisters, Marjan, Bahar and Layla, in the kitchen of the new Babylon Café. Discuss how this setting offers a glimpse into the differences in their personalities. If you have siblings, do you recognize the dynamics between the three sisters?
     
  3. Marjan cooks in accordance to the Zoroastrian system of gastronomic balancing, known as sard and garm. As one of the world's first monotheistic religions, Zoroastrianism introduced the dual ideas of good and evil, which are now practiced in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Have you ever heard of Zoroastrianism or the concepts of sard and garm, cold and hot foods? How is this balancing system similar to eating habits in the West? How is it different?
     
  4. Why do you think the author has chosen to set Pomegranate Soup in 1980s Ireland, instead of today? How do you think the village of Ballinacroagh perpetuates the fairytale image tourists often have of Ireland? In what ways, if any, does Ballinacroagh differ from this idealized picture?
     
  5. The Aminpour sisters escape Tehran on the eve of the Islamic Revolution. What do you know of Iran's history, particularly the revolution of 1979? Were you surprised to read that the Shah was as unpopular as he was with many Iranians? If you were around during the time of the revolution, what images do you remember receiving about it through media outlets in the West?
     
  6. Both Marjan and Bahar were romantically involved with men who supported the Islamic Revolution. These relationships led the two women to perform revolutionary activities, which they later regretted. Do you feel either sister has come to terms with her violent past? Have you ever felt like you've lost your moral compass in a relationship?
     
  7. In the classical Greek myth of Persephone, Demeter, the goddess of Spring, has a daughter named Persephone who is kidnapped by Hades, god of the Underworld. Have you ever heard of this myth? What parallels do you see between this myth and the three sisters' story?
     
  8. The Babylon Café provides a venue for dreams to flourish. Discuss how the food and the sisters' temperaments influence the villagers to pursue dreams that may have lay hidden, even to themselves. Have you ever experienced a quiet epiphany such as the one that Father Mahoney has over a bowl of abgusht? Or was your moment of transformation more pronounced, as Tom Junior's in the Cat's cottage?
     
  9. What parallels do you find between Ballinacroagh's bully, Thomas McGuire, and Hossein Jaferi in Iran? What are the differences? Is Thomas McGuire's malevolence born of evil, or is his villainy more pathetic, even humorous, perhaps? Can you think of any other parallels between the sisters' experiences in the Irish village and revolution-era Iran?
     
  10. Marjan, Bahar, and Layla try to protect one another from the memories of the past. Discuss the various forms in which this protection is exhibited. How is this over-protectiveness similar to events you might have experienced in your own life? Do you relate to any one sister's methods more?
     
  11. Croagh Patrick looms protectively over the village of Ballinacroagh. The holy mountain is where the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, reportedly took his Lenten fast, banishing the evil spirits that had haunted him his entire life. What roles do Croagh Patrick and Saint Patrick play in Bahar's self-revelation?  What do you think initially sparked her desire to climb the mountain?
     
  12. Young Layla and Malachy provide a romantic subplot for the story, but they also embody the future.  Do you agree with this observation? Discuss.
     
  13. What would you like to see happen to the three sisters after the story ends? Do you think they have found a home in Ballinacroagh? Do you think they are ready to heal from the painful events of their past?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Random House. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The North Water
    The North Water
    by Ian McGuire
    In early 1859 the crew of the Volunteer, a Greenland-bound whaler, is making the most of the last ...
  • Book Jacket: City of Secrets
    City of Secrets
    by Stewart O'Nan
    In his new novel, City of Secrets, Stewart O'Nan spins a tale of espionage and intrigue as ...
  • Book Jacket: The Atomic Weight of Love
    The Atomic Weight of Love
    by Elizabeth Church
    A prologue set in 2011 introduces readers to this novel's unforgettable narrator. Meridian ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Children
    by Ann Leary

    With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Weekenders

The Perfect Summer Escape!

Told with Mary Kay Andrews' trademark blend of humor and warmth.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

B A Usual

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.