Word-of-mouth is often a reliable guide to the interest of a novel, and in the case of Anita Amirrezvanis The Blood of Flowers
, the considerable preliminary excitement was fully justified. This is a vivid and atmospheric picture of Iran: the way in which the people live, the sunbaked scenery and the architecture. But most of all, this is the involving story of a young girl's journey from a state of innocence to that of sober adulthood. Amidst the colour and excitement of the bazaars of Isfahan, a spirited young village girl is approaching the age when it is expected that she will marry. But suddenly her life is thrown into turmoil at the same time as a luminous comet blazes across the sky. After the death of her much-loved father, the young woman and her inconsolable mother find themselves obliged to cope with a challenging new life in the busy city of Isfahan. They are taken in as house servants by an uncle, a wealthy carpet designer, and his unsympathetic wife. Although life is difficult, Amirrezvanis protagonist quickly shows her skills as a maker of carpets, and under her uncle's watchful eye, life begins to look positive again. But then an ill-considered action results in the heroines fall from grace, and she is forced into a grim secret marriage.
The narrative here is couched in prose by Anita Amirrezvani that positively glows on the page, and the characterisation is similarly acute, notably of the wonderfully drawn heroine. As a journey into a society that will be alien to most readers, this is a remarkable achievement. --Barry Forshaw
'Sensuous and transporting...filled with the colors, tastes and fragrances of life in 17th century Isfahan. Amirrezvani clearly knows and loves the ways of old Iran, and brings them to life with the cadences of a skilled story-spinner'
(Geraldine Brooks 20060711)
'Richly coloured glimpses of Isfahan society... A lavishly detailed debut'
'So smoothly does Anita Amirrezvani weave her tapestry of ideas that her rigorously researched tale of tragic beauty seems effortless. Amirrezvani, in her debut novel, gives us the literary equivalent of fine carpet-weaving. [She] takes us into life in Iran from the inside…No wonder the book is hard to put down.’
, Australia 20070315)
'Beautifully imagined... Simply a stunning debut. One can't help but want to return to the charming main narrator and the entrancing tale of her quest for independence and self-reliance, her daring and honest exploration of love and desire for love, and above all the profound discovery... that she 'must being to understand her own worth''
(San Francisco Chronicle
'I've just read the most wonderful book by Anita Amirezzvani...it is fascinating, totally original and utterly gripping. It will remain one of my favourite books.'
(Esther Freud, Independent on Sunday
'Powerful and haunting'
, Australia 20070315)
'[Amirrezvani] argues most effectively for art's sake... through a series of artful tableaux; women congregating in a public bath; merchants haggling in the city's great bazaar; teeming slums and serene pleasure palaces'
'Amirrezvani... infuses her heroine with lilting eloquence'
'Enduring and dynamic'
‘…a staggeringly well-written novel’
(Sun Herald, Australia 20070315)