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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars34
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 15 October 2011
This book is beautiful - painfully so. It follows an extended Iranian family through the modernisation of Iran under Reza Shah, then the Revolution on 1979, then a story of exile and return up until the present day. Whilst politics may have shaped the narrative, what you take away form this book are the people - their warmth, their laughter and their pain. You don't need to be versed in Middle Easter politics to read this book. If you enjoy books where you are transported into a whole world complete with grandparents, babies, endless aunts and uncles and their stories, then this is a book for you. The Cypress Tree is a delight to read but is also an important book in voicing the story of the generation of Iranians who have moved abroad due to the politics at home. I loved it.
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on 5 October 2011
As an Iranian-American novelist who was born and raised in the States, I have longed for a book that accurately portrays the Iran that I know, a complex country that is difficult to explain to Westerners. Too many English-language books about Iran make the country sound one-sided, focusing on the repressive nature of the Islamic government, feeding stereotypes about Iranians as hostage-taking, martyr-loving extremist out of touch with reality. Kamin Mohammadi's portrait of Iran is intricate and beautifully crafted, like the tiles of a 16th Century Isfahani mosque, and yet uncompromisingly honest like her charismatic grandmother during her last days. She covers seminal periods in Iran's modern history through the rich narratives of her large, effervescent family. Iran becomes a character in her book, beloved and appreciated like a close relative, but also driving her crazy at times and capable of causing anguish. The Cypress Tree is full of sensuous details--roses and spices, subtle glances and carefully planned costumes--and is rich in humor and heartbreak. Mohammadi's painful story of exile and uplifting reconciliation with her past will be familiar and healing to other immigrants and refugees. Modern day-Iran is isolated and maligned these days, but Kamin Mohammadi's sweeping perspective make us realize that, like the cypress tree "that has grown for thousands of years and weathered all the storms of Iran's changeable history, [Iranians] have learned to bend to the prevailing winds, but we are not broken." I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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on 7 October 2011
Two things stand out most about this book - the wonderful hardback cover design and the powerful, evocative language used.

Kamin Mohammadi's description of family life in pre-revolutionary Iran is full of love and is heart-warming. It's intimate and I sometimes even felt as if I was a spectator in the room. Mixed with that are evocative descriptions of Iran, her landscapes, environment, people and food especially. It's great, although - depending on personal taste - it can become slightly overblown (one too many "fields of gold" cited for example!).

The revolution is the turning point, and going back to the intimacy of this book, the reader can feel the pity and powerlessness as a country is turned on its head and the family's previous harmony is broken. There's tragedy here - families displaced, the impact of war, but also redemption as new lives are started in the UK, and the family spreads to other countries and builds new links with Iran. I liked it a lot.
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on 13 April 2013
It is very unusual for me to dislike a book as much as I did The Cypress Tree. Kamin Mohammadi led an extraordinarily privileged life in Iran and I found it very difficult to find sympathy for her tale of her family increasing its wealth in Iran under the Shah, her father giving family members jobs in the 'Company' while clearly ordinary Iranians were suffering deprivation and poverty. When forced to flee after the revolution, she throws a tantrum because she cannot say good-bye to her pet lamb, and suffers the 'indignity' of having to move to a flat in Notting Hill. I failed to empathise or connect with this writer at all and would not recommend it to anyone.
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on 14 December 2012
This is a very interesting book about the culture of Iran through the last 3 decades and how life changed with different rulers/regimes. It is a bit repetitive in places but I still enjoyed it. The closeness of the extended family highlights the different attitude to family, especially the elderly, in the UK and western world.
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on 30 May 2013
Really enjoyed this book and was pleased to find that Persian/Iranian women are as proud,strong and independent minded as I always imagined they were. The author is obviously passionate about her country and paints a very vibrant and beautiful picture of the country, people and culture whilst giving an accurate account of the political trauma's the country and it's people have suffered over time.
It also gives the reader an insight into the realities of being a political refugee in Britain and hopefully a better understanding of the difficulties people face when they are forced to leave their homeland and lose their sense of belonging and identity.
A well written book on a fascinating topic.
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on 21 January 2013
Beautifully written book, full of interesting tales of childhood and growing up in a culture and setting very different to my own.

Absolutely loved it, and would recommend to anyone!
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on 15 September 2011
The Cypress Tree is a beautifully written book that truly is "a love letter to Iran" and leaves the reader inspired by all that the writer, Kamin Mohammadi, her family and Iranians in general have survived and overcome. Here is a book that tells the real story of Iran from the inside and from the outside. I learnt about Iran's deeply fascinating culture, history and politics. Kamin Mohammadi also describes in an unbiased and coherent style the impact that Iran's natural resources and Islamic law has had on her, her family and the nation as a whole. It is a deeply moving account and one that is clearly from the heart. Kamin Mohammadi has dug deep both emotionally and forensically to unearth a story that demystifies a nation and humanizes them in a way that is a testimony to Kamin's love for her family, her people and her country.
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on 6 November 2013
I looked forward to reading this book at first, hoping it would give me a greater insight into the everyday lives of people in Iran today. It did nothing of the kind and I found myself actively disliking it. The author details a life of extraordinary privilege under the Shah, and the shock of subsequent exile to this country,but it reminded me of narratives I had read in the past by White Russian exiles bemoaning the loss of their pre-revolution lives of wealth, luxury and high status. If you are hoping to find any enlightenment in this book concerning Iran today, you are wasting your time. It is a memoir to a life-style the author was fortunate enough to enjoy as a child with little or no understanding of the reasons why it could not last.
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on 8 December 2012
Enjoyedthis book but a little confusing from time to time when it jumps about from place to place and different times.
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