Ruined by Reading

The Blood of Flowers

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction by M on May 19, 2009


Title: The Blood of Flowers
Author: Anita Amirrezvani
Pages: 377
Genre: Multicultural Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5

In the fabled city of Isfahan, in seventeenth-century Persia, a young woman confronts a dismal fate: Her beloved father has died and left her without a dowry. Forced to work as a servant in the home of her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the Shah, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim, and she finds herself faced with a daunting decision – to forsake her own dignity or to risk everything in an effort to maintain it.

The basic plot of this novel is pretty familiar and much like Cinderella – a young girl falls on misfortune and is mistreated by the only family she has left. But The Blood of Flowers is much more complex than that. It deals with the highly controversial issue of temporary marriage, or sigheh. It also demonstrates how women can find themselves in very grave circumstances when they live in a society where one’s only source of financial security is a husband, or sex. Finally, it illustrates how a woman succeeds against all odds and creates a business out of nothing.

The Blood of Flowers reads very much like a fairy tale, which makes it very enjoyable to read and difficult to put down. The author laces the main story with Persian fables and tales. I found this to be unique and quite enchanting. The characters are well developed, if not a little predictable at times. But I don’t think that any predictability takes away from the story. I enjoyed seeing the anonymous narrator grow up from a little girl to a mature, at times jaded, but always ambitious young woman.

The first, and most controversial issue is the issue of temporary marriage. For security, the unnamed narrator consents to a temporary marriage to please her greedy family. But temporary marriage is represented in other ways, too. To one woman, it is a way for her to finally be with her true love after her first husband has died. In another case, it is void of any sexual connotation and simply used in order to make it proper for people to live in close quarters. In yet another case, it is offered as a way to make prostitution legal, which is how it is most often used in parts of the world today.

The second major issue is the issue of woman’s ability to be independent. The source of all of the narrator’s misfortunes is really that she has no other way to easily provide for herself outside of begging and prostitution if she has no male relatives left willing to care for her. She eventually overcomes this, after many years of suffering and hard work. But I feel that while these cultural and religious conventions may have been put into place originally to serve as a protection for women, they often times end up being a major obstacle, or even one of the causes for great suffering among women.

One thing I appreciate is that while there is a happily-ever-after ending, it’s not in the way novels like this traditionally end. There is no great love story, and no one rides off into the sunset together. I very much respect that the author didn’t play into this cliche.

I had not expected to love The Blood of Flowers as much as I did. I strongly recommend it to everyone.

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5 Responses

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  1. S. Krishna said, on May 23, 2009 at 5:05 am

    I really enjoyed this book as well. Nice review!

  2. seeker said, on May 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I am guessing the characters in the book weren’t Muslims, rather in pre-Islamic Persia? Since temporary marriage is not allowed in Islam.

    I think I am going to read this book…good review.

    • ruinedbyreading said, on May 31, 2009 at 4:04 am

      This was post-Islam Persia, so they were Muslim. Temporary marriage was practiced back then, and is still practiced today in Iran, as well as other places with Shia communities. Now days, it’s often used as a legal loop-hole around prostitution.

  3. Sunday Salon: Long Time, No See « said, on July 5, 2009 at 6:06 am

    […] my last Sunday Salon, I reviewed several books: The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, How to Win a Cosmic War by Reza Aslan, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Heminway, & The […]

  4. […] at the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge Blog 1stBookReview It’s All Maya! Feminist Review Ruined by Reading If you reviewed The Blood of Flowers on your blog as well, please leave a link to your blogpost in […]


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