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The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani tells the story of a young Iranian girl as she makes her way in the world. As she reaches marrying age a comet crosses the sky foretelling doom and bad luck. Shortly after, our narrators life is turned upside down; her father dies leaving her and her mother with no way to earn a living. Having barely managed to survive a desolate winter in their village, they contact a distant relative in the city and move to Isafhan. In the city, their luck seems to be changing; their family welcome them, and the narrator is learning to nurture her talent as a carpet knotter under her uncles vigilant eye. However, the bad luck of the comet is not finished with her yet. After a series of hasty decisions she and her mother find themselves homeless.
Both women have to learn to become independent and find happiness by themselves and on their own terms. I enjoyed this novel because of the empathy the author causes the reader to feel with the main character, even though we never find out her name, which is traditional in Iranian story telling. She is a truly three-dimensional character, with flaws and strengths that has the reader cheering for her and raging at her in equal measure. She makes rash decisions, but has to live with the consequences. Also, she is unable to live out her dream, and work on her ability as a skilled carpet maker, because she is a woman. This made me feel very frustrated for her, and caused me to sympathise with her troubles.
The structure of the novel is also engaging for the reader as it is punctuated with traditional Iranian folk stories, telling tales of magical birds, princesses and naughty angels.17th century Iran is spectacularly brought to life by Amirrezvani, the squares, the mosques and the bazaars are all described in such a way that you can almost smell the fragrant spices. In this respect the novel is like the carpets at the heart of the story; small knots made of stunning setting, realistic characterisation and unique structure all combine to create an intricate work of art. If you enjoyed The Kite Runner and Memoirs of a Geisha then this novel is for you.
Also published on Waterstones.com and Amazon.com