Title: The Blood of Flowers
Author: Anita Amirrezvani
Published: June 5th, 2007
Persia, 17th century. The life of a fourteen year old girl is changed forever when her father dies, leaving her without a dowry. Together with her mother she travels from her village to the city of Isfahan, to become servants for her wealthy uncle. The title refers to the flowers that were used to create dyes for the brilliantly woven Persian carpets. The girl is a brilliant carpet designer… and it took me several chapters to realize that her name is never mentioned in the story, not even once. She narrates it in first person and the other characters never say her name, but somehow it doesn’t come across as forced. The author says in the notes that she wants the protagonist to represent all the nameless artisans whose names are lost to time.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the backdrop of 17th century Iran was fascinating, that alone kept me glued to the page and I finished the book in just two days. However it left me somewhat unsatisfied, because there is no “traditional” ending like one might expect. There’s a definite feeling that the protagonist is still there, living her life, and we can only imagine what happens after the book is over. Likewise, a lot of “bad” characters make the protagonist’s life miserable and get away scot-free. I was expecting that, especially since they’re not as much “bad” as “following a moral and social code so different from my own that it’s hard to understand”, but come on, read the book and tell me you weren’t hoping that the blasted comet will fall down on the evil aunt’s head!
Another gripe I had was that the protagonist just couldn’t catch a break. When it wasn’t society rules that brought her down, she was herself causing trouble. That might add to the realism, since life was tough for women of the time, but as a modern reader it feels as if something’s missing. Oh, and a little glossary wouldn’t have gone amiss, because how many times does the narration need to halt to explain that Khanoom is the respectful term used to address a married woman? But those are niggles, really, I liked the book overall and I’d suggest it to anyone who’s a fan of coming-of-age stories and gorgeous settings.