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The Blood of Flowers [Hardcover]

Anita Amirrezvani
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 May 2007

Set in seventeenth-century Iran, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS is the powerful and haunting story of a young girl's journey from innocence to adulthood.
The novel begins in the 1620s in a remote village where the narrator (whose name, in the Iranian storytelling tradition, we are never to know) lives with her mother and rug-maker father. On the sudden death of her father our heroine and her mother fall upon hard times and are forced to travel to the bustling, beautiful, exotic city of Isfahan where relatives take them in.

Everything is new: the grudging charity of her aunt, the encouragement of her uncle, one of the finest carpet-makers in the world, who begins to teach her his craft, the treacherous friendship of the daughter of rich neighbours. And there's an adventure ahead which will introduce her to the sensual side of life as well as to the cruelty of betrayal and rejection before she finds her way to contentment and possibly, even, to happiness, in a world full of contrasts and dangers.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; First Edition edition (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755334191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755334193
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 16.2 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 839,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Word-of-mouth is often a reliable guide to the interest of a novel, and in the case of Anita Amirrezvani’s 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, Amirrezvani’s 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 heroine’s 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'

(Kirkus Reviews 20070315)

'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.’


(Herald Sun, 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 20070315)


(Vogue 20070315)

'I've just read the most wonderful book by Anita is fascinating, totally original and utterly gripping. It will remain one of my favourite books.'

(Esther Freud, Independent on Sunday 20070315)

'Powerful and haunting'

(Image, 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'

(Washington Post 20070315)

'Amirrezvani... infuses her heroine with lilting eloquence'

(Washington Post 20070315)

'Enduring and dynamic'

(Washington Post 20070315)

‘…a staggeringly well-written novel’

(Sun Herald, Australia 20070315)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful new author 2 May 2008
I have to say I was enormously impressed and moved by this novel. Firstly the setting in ancient Iran and the unamed heroine really gripped me. You can sense how much research went into this book, the descriptions of the clothes, food, architecture, and the daily lives of the Iranian people in the 17th century. Very cleverly structured with short tales interwoven into the narrative. What most impressed me though was that during halfway I thought the author was going to tip the book into slushy romance, but then switches it back and in the process made the heroine even more of a fighter.

I always like to compare it to The Kite Runner, not because the stories are similar, but because both writers have done something magical, and captured in print the lives of ordinary beings doing extraordinary things. As such it is very great achievement. Unforgettable.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly enjoyable novel, very vivid! 17 May 2007
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 narrator's 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 uncle's 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. 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. 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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Read 9 July 2007
Whilst this book is well researched and contains a level of detail as a work of fiction it falls down a little. The characters are a little unidimensional and the prose can be a little flat at times. That said the plot is an interesting if rather contrived one and better than the plot are the tales of ancient Persian that pop up from now and again. The real delight though is the detail especially in concerning the traditional method of carpet making. The story tells the tale of a young (nameless) girl who following the death of her father is forced into the city of Isfahan to stay with her relatives. Treated very much as a servant she is coerced into a temporary marriage with a rich benefactor and we're presented with a fairly standard storyline where the girl builds up her talents and tries to achieve her independence. As a male reader one gets the distinct impression that the author is making (a very unsubtle) attack on males and whilst her novel on 17th centaury Iranian feminism is enjoyable it feels slightly unrealistic.

As a novel the book lacks somewhat, however it is worth reading for its descriptions of 17th centaury life in Isfahan and its descriptions of carpet making.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read but not a great ending 21 July 2009
I read this book a while ago, it quite an interesting and motivates you to continue to read this book however the poor ending was a terrible let down. The girl was never given a name and I would have like it had she been. I tend to agree with many of the other reviewers. I would say it's not as good a Thousand Splendid Suns but it worthwhile reading. It's definitely not boring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 15 Oct 2008
I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric book from beginning to end. After years of research Ms Amirrezvani has produced a novel that more than justifies her efforts - not sure I can wait 9 yrs for a sequel though!

The unnamed narrator starts her life in a remote Iranian village, the only child of doting parents. Unfortunately the untimely death of her father leaves the family with no means of support and they are forced to call on the favours of a distant relative in order to survive.
They move to the bustling city of Isfahan, a fascinating, colourful place where carpets are a majour source of income. Our protagonist and her mother become servants to their well off relative, a renowned carpet designer. He recognises the talent and skill in his niece and teaches her many of the skills of carpet design.

Apart from the fascinating detail of the city of Isfahan and the manufacture of carpets, the book also includes ancient Iranian fables which are interwoven with the story. We also come across the sigheh, a temporary marriage contract permitted within Islam to prevent promiscuous relationships. Whilst a number of readers will have been aware of this practice, I'm sure it will be new and fascinating to many
Definitely a five star read. And in the likely absence of an immediate follow up from the author, I would like to recommend Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, whilst set in Turkey, I found this an equally compelling read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful present.
I was given this book for my birthday last year, but only got round to reading it this autumn. What a brilliant book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gale
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
It is set in Esfahan when it was the capital of Iran. All about carpet woving children and women. All about a woman's ambition and how it got her to triumph against all odds in the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Khatereh B Ghane
4.0 out of 5 stars A really good read
I enjoyed this book because it gave an insight into how life was in Iran and the way men and women were treated differently. Read more
Published 7 months ago by scollihoe
4.0 out of 5 stars A cultural insight
An interesting insight into another culture and the portrayal of women within it. It covers about 5 years of a young girl's life in Iran and the lie changing experiences she... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone, for a first novel it was an excellent read I certainly will read more of her books.
Published 9 months ago by Robina Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely tail
A lovely tail, very heart felt. A book you won't want to put down! In the same genre as a thousand splendid sons or Red tents.
Published 11 months ago by Claire Jane Robinson
3.0 out of 5 stars It was ok
It was ok. Evan now after finishing the book two weeks ago I cannot say it gave me a feeling of a book I would read again or tell my friends.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs J Howarth
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS
Loved this book. Could hardly put it down. Was so sorry to finish it, but couldn't stop reading. Recommended. 5/5
Published 13 months ago by laura mcfadden
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood of flowers
A fascinating insight into the lives and culture of the Persians. Very readable and well written. I would recommend this book.
Published 13 months ago by Patti Crone
4.0 out of 5 stars THE KNOTS OF LIFE
The Blood of Flowers vividly explores many different relationships in the narrator's life--with her mother, her father, her uncle, her friend, and her husband, to name a few--with... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Red Rock Bookworm
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