Summary and book reviews of The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers

A Novel

by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2008, 400 pages

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Book Summary

In 17th-century Persia, a young woman and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman is faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.

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.

CHAPTER ONE

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 astronomer’s 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 people’s 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 Ali’s big white beard, which looked like a tuft of desert scrub. My mother, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Questions and topics for discussion
  1. What is the significance of the novel's title? What does it mean in terms of both the narrator and the story itself?
  2. How would you describe the author's writing style, and what do you think this style brings to the novel? Did you find anything striking or unusual about the way the story unfolds? Did it remind you of anything you have read before?
  3. How much did you know about Iranian history and culture before reading this book? Did anything in the story strike you as completely unlike — or surprisingly reminiscent of — our lives today? What do you think you gain from reading a novel about a period in history, as opposed to a nonfiction historical account?
  4. The author decided ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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 Members Only (817 words).

Media Reviews

Chicago Sun-Times by Mary Houlihan

By not giving her central character a name, Amirrezvani salutes all the anonymous artists of Iran, many of whom, if given the chance, would have equally entrancing stories to tell.

Entertainment Weekly - Allyssa Lee

Though the flowery prose can be distracting, Amirrezvani skillfully threads culture, romance, and art into an elegant tale of self-realization and empowerment. B+.

San Francisco Chronicle - Christine Thomas

The Blood of Flowers is simply a stunning debut. One can't help but want to return to the charming main narrator and the entrancing tale of her quest for independence and self-reliance, her daring and honest exploration of love and desire for love, and above all the profound discovery, as Gostaham reminds her, that she "must begin to understand [her] own worth."

USA Today - Ann Oldenburg

Like one of the dazzling, meticulously tied rugs in the Iranian bazaar, The Blood of Flowers is filled with intricate designs, vivid colors and sparkling gems.

St Louis Dispatch - Charles Gershman

Amirrezvani's prose is earthy and humble, clean and consistent. While the ending does drag on for perhaps 20 pages more than it should, she is a stunning new writer with a gift for transcendent storytelling.

Publishers Weekly

Sumptuous imagery and a modern sensibility (despite a preponderance of flowery language and schematic female bonding and male bullying) make this a winning debut.

Kirkus Reviews

A lavishly detailed debut, in which some of the simple values of a folktale are woven together with richer (and more modern) women-centered life lessons.

Library Journal

While some of the characters aren't as developed as a reader might desire...and the story doesn't always feel that it takes place 400 years ago, the main character is as complex and interesting as the patterns she weaves.

School Library Journal

Like Sheherazade, the heroine's mother is a master storyteller, telling tales within this tale that Amirrezvani tells so magically. Readers will not be able to put this book down, from the once-upon-a-time beginning to the well-crafted end.

Reader Reviews

Amellia

Want to be taken away?
I have to say I really enjoyed this book. I actually "listened" to the book, and was slightly concerned in the beginning. If you enjoy audio books, you might be able to understand. Sometimes you "like" the voice, and other times you "hate" the ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

A Short History of Ancient Iran
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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