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The Blood of Flowers

By Anita Amirrezvani
Read by Shohreh Aghdashloo

Set in 17th Century Persia , and about a penniless young woman and her widowed mother, I was quite set to not be the least bit interested in this book.

The women are Muslim, living in a world where a woman's only worth is based on her dowry and her virginity, it is very hard to expect to enjoy this novel.

But the unnamed young woman who is at the center of this book is intriguing for many reasons. She is a good Muslim woman. She desires to be a wife and bear a good husband many children. When she finds herself without a dowry, living in the home of her wealthy uncle (her father's half-brother), and treated as a servant by his wealthy, spoiled wife, you expect her story to be about the degradation of a woman in this world.

In some ways it is. But it is also much more than that. You see, she has ambition, and she is smart. She is a good rug maker. Her knots are beautiful, and she has the desire to learn. Her uncle works for the Shah in the royal rug-making workshop. He also takes on commissioned work. When he realizes that she has the desire, as well as the ability, to be a good rug maker, he takes her under his wing and teaches her about design, color, and the ways to make a truly beautiful rug.

So in spite of ending up in an arranged marriage that is renewed from month to month, and used as a servant by her family, even abused by the young woman who claims to be her best friend, this woman survives and finds a way to thrive.

She begins by learning as much as she can about rug making. Then using some of the funds paid for her marriage contract, she hires other women to help her make rugs. She finds a way to find beauty in life, and something that she can do that is of value, in spite of her lowly status in a world controlled by men and money.

The language is flowery, but not so that I found it annoying. I'm a 20th century reader, and I don't like overly-adjectived prose. The language here sounds true to the period, and the reader, Shohreh Aghdashloo, has a lovely accent and a beautiful voice. There are times that I was amused by the accent, such as when the word "nut" sounded like "knot." My amusement did not lessen my enjoyment of the sounds that made me believe I really was listening to the story of a woman who lived in Persia during this time.

Yes, this is a story of triumph under adversity, but it's not dogmatic, nor the least bit shrill. It is sad and lovely, and lovingly told.

The Book

Hachette Audio
June 5, 2007
Audio books / Audio CD - 11 CDs Unabridged edition

10: 1594839123
13: 978-1594839122

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The Reviewer

Sarah Bewley
Reviewed 2007
© 2007