Melody





ISBN-13: 9780316065771
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Published: May 2008
441pp



During the 17th-century in a laid-back village in Iran, the narrator, a fourteen-year-old young woman is dreaming of marrying and having a family of her own. However, her hopes are dashed after the sudden death of her father as a marriage is impossible without a dowry to offer. Feeling desperate and penniless, they decided to travel to the city of Isfahan to seek assistance and protection of an uncle who is a well respected carpet maker and has his own workshop. Gostaham and his wife, Gordiyeh took them in, although they have to work and are being treated like servants in their household.

Nevertheless, the narrator did not stop her dreams. She has a passion and talents for carpet-knotting so she requested to learn carpet design from Gostaham, a profession which is often taken up by men. Having no son and thinking there is no harm in teaching her, Gostaham shares his knowledge of carpet-making to her. She has learned the skills fast, but Gordiyeh is not happy with them for not being able to contribute much to the household, and to make things worsen, the narrator made an error with a rug she had made and with nothing to pay, she agrees on a sigheh arrangement. Unlike a real marriage, a sigheh is only considered a temporary marriage and most of the times, the women are treated lowly and provide pleasure to the men in return for a payment. And this begins her three-month renewable contract with Fereydoon, the son of a horse trader when he set his eyes on her one day when he had paid a visit at Gostaham's house.

However, there is a turn of event when she later found out that Fereydoon is to marry her close friend, Naheed. It does not matter that Naheed has a man whom she loves, for her parents think that Iskandar does not make a worthy son-in-law. Though the narrator feels sad for Naheed, she is also feeling sorry for herself as she has gained nothing as compared to Naheed. As time goes by, she has mastered the art of pleasing Fereydoon although she is still feeling guilty for not telling Naheed due to the complex situation. When Naheed knows about their relationship later, there is an uproar in the households. The narrator decides to end the sigheh contract secretly on her own, not knowing that her rashness entitles Gostaham and his wife to cast them out of their house. In the end, she has to resort to begging on the streets to provide for her sick mother. However, this does not mark the end of her journey as she struggles to defy all odds and find ways to path a future for herself and her mother.

While reading this story, I felt sorry for the unnamed narrator. Although she is being forced to surrender her virginity and is being treated lowly, she is actually a strong and courageous woman in my opinion; one who is brave enough to stand on her own despite the difficult situations. Not only that, she also shows her loyalty to Naheed by refusing Fereydoon's offer when he asked for a renewal to their sigheh contract. I was also touched by the love between the narrator's mother and father, whereby he had never thought of taking a second wife even though it had took them years to conceive a child. And even after he knew the child is a girl, he still loved her unconditionally. After all, a boy is always preferred in the male dominated society.

Readers also get a glimpse of the harsh fact of life where there is this scene between a blind old beggar and the narrator when she begged for money in an area which he considered it his "turf". He lied to others about her using their generosity so that she could feed on opium, thus forcing her to leave so that he could have all the attention and a permanent place to beg again. There is another incident where she is conned by a Dutchman as she had trusted his words and passed the rug she had made to him, believing in him that he would buy it from her after his inspection but she never seen him again thereafter.

The Blood of Flowers is a wonderful read and a page-turner. Anita Amirrezvani has a way with words. Aside from the interesting premise and the engaging characters, I was also drawn by the Iranian history and culture through the author's fine descriptions in the novel. It was also an eye opener to me after reading how the carpets are being made as well as the meaning behind some of their design patterns. I know I will never look at a rug the same way again.


Note: It took the author nine years to work on this novel. She had also made three trips to Iran to research this book. The narrator of this novel is not named intentionally, in tribute to the anonymous artisans of Iran. You may wish to read more about the author's thoughts under the Author's Note of this novel.


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14 Responses
  1. Nymeth Says:

    This sounds absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the review, Melody. Ever since I've read Persepolis I've been meaning to look for more books set in Iran, and this one sounds perfect.


  2. Melody Says:

    I love everything about this book, Nymeth. The writing & the story all flow beautifully in this book! I'm hoping the author will release her next book soon!


  3. Debi Says:

    What a beautiful review, Melody! It sounds like a very special book...one I'll be adding to the wish list, for sure.


  4. Melody Says:

    Thanks, Debi. :) I hope you'll like it as well.


  5. Alice Teh Says:

    One more to go into my wish list. :)


  6. joanna Says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention Melody, it's definitely going on my list. I love books like this and am looking forward to learning about both Iran and carpet weaving!


  7. Iliana Says:

    Melody I'm so glad you enjoyed this book! I read it last year and thought it was really well done too. I remember as I was reading I kept thinking what is the girl's name but I really like why the author kept her unnamed. It really drove the point home didn't it? I hope she'll come out with another book soon.


  8. Melody Says:

    Alice - That's great! :)

    Joanna - You're welcome. Good books are meant to share. ;)

    Iliana - Like you, I was curious to find out about her name too; and I think it really works well with the story.


  9. Julia Says:

    The book look interesting, and that was a good reviews!


  10. Melody Says:

    Thanks, Julia! I'm hoping you'll read it one day.


  11. I have wanted to read this book ever since I first heard about it, and your wonderful review makes me even more excited about doing so.


  12. Melody Says:

    Wendy, can you tell I really loved this book? ;) I can't wait to read your review after you've read it. :)


  13. Marg Says:

    I loved this book when I read it last year - one of my favourites!


  14. Melody Says:

    Me too, Marg! :)