Summary and book reviews of The Gardens of Consolation by Parisa Reza

The Gardens of Consolation

by Parisa Reza

The Gardens of Consolation by Parisa Reza
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  • Paperback:
    Dec 2016, 208 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Book Summary

Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Iran, Parisa Reza has written a powerful love story filled with scenes of hope and heartbreak.

In the early 1920s, in the remote village of Ghamsar, Talla and Sardar, two teenagers dreaming of a better life, fall in love and marry. Sardar brings his young bride with him across the mountains to the suburbs of Tehran, where the couple settles down and builds a home. From the outskirts of the capital city, they will watch as the Qajar dynasty falls and Reza Khan rises to power as Reza Shah Pahlavi.

Into this family of illiterate shepherds is born Bahram, a boy whose brilliance and intellectual promise are apparent from a very young age. Through his education, Bahram will become a fervent follower of reformer Mohammad Mosaddegh and will participate first-hand in his country's political and social upheavals.

Excerpt
The Gardens of Consolation

To the east, bare earth, as far as the eye can see. To the west, hills, in places crumpled as a camel's hide, in others smooth as a woman's breast. Then on the horizon, mountains. And a road, traced along the length of the desert, the length of the mountains, from Isfahan to Tehran. Perhaps this road sets off from further away, from somewhere in the south of Iran. Perhaps it begins beside the sea, at Bouchehr. But for Talla, the world does not reach beyond Isfahan and Tehran. Tehran and Isfahan are the most extreme limits she has heard mentioned, the last outposts before oblivion. Beyond that would be home to djinns and peris, will-o'-the-wisps and ogres. Not that this means she can situate the two cities in relation to each other, or even attribute them with any form or substance. They are merely necessary words to shape the world. Tehran, Isfahan, and, between the two, Kashan. And Mecca, the counterweight to the pagan world, holding ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Fiction has the power to transport readers to an unfamiliar world and teach them about unfamiliar cultures. The Gardens of Consolation meets and exceeds this goal. It will doubtless delight anyone wishing to learn more about Iran and its recent history, and Reza's beautiful writing is sure to please. The novel is especially recommended for book groups, as its various themes (women's rights, generational change, etc.) will provide ample material for discussion.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Winner of 2015's Prix Senghor for a debut novel by a Francophone writer, this compelling book raises important questions about indulgence, gender, community, and the impact of politics on everyday life

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Informative but not didactic, this book reads like a popular saga, simply told and with recognizable characters whom many readers will appreciate.

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Beyond the Book

Mohammad Mossadegh

In Gardens of Consolation, one of the main characters becomes a supporter of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, who served from 1951 – 1953 until he was ousted in a coup d'état backed by the American CIA and the British SIS.

Mohammad Mossadegh Mossadegh was born in Tehran in 1882 into a well-connected family. His father Mirza Hedayat Ashtiani, was Iran's Minister of Finance and his mother, Najm al-Saltaneh, was related to the ruling Qajar dynasty. Interestingly, "Mossadegh" was not a family name, but a title awarded by the ruling Shah in appreciation of the family's service. Later, when Iran introduced identity cards and all citizens had to be registered with a given and a family name, Mohammad supposedly ...

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