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Posted March 26, 2009
An interesting read but falls short of its potential.
I was very interested in reading a book that offered an inside look at the workings of Iran - the people, their daily lives, what they think of their own government. And while those insights are provided in the book, the style of the author, Azadeh Moaveni, is a bit off-putting. She obviously loves Iran, the country of her parents' birth and, in many ways, the country of her heart. However, what comes across in the book is that she is attracted to the idea of Iran - its history, poetry, art, ancient religious traditions - and it is obvious that, to her, the reality of Iran falls far short of her expectations. While that is entirely understandable, her constant protestations about the affection and deep connection she has for the country are irritating in the face of her constant naiveté about conditions in Iran along with her unfortunate tone of intellectual arrogance, a combination that often puts her and her loved ones in potentially dangerous situations.
Her relationship with her faith is similar in many ways. She loves Islam because it reminds her of her grandmother, she loves its mysticism and rituals, she is enthralled by the crowds of men whipping themselves in ritualistic mourning for the death of Muhammad's grandson. In short, she loves it for its drama and the fond memories it evokes of a much-loved relative. But again, the realities of the thing irritate her. She is angered at the need to cover her hair (an anger I would share), she ignores the rule about avoiding alcohol, she even chooses a Zoroastrian wedding rather than an Islamic one. While I can understand this paradox, it is the thinly veiled tone of arrogance that ruined it for me. There is an undeniable sense of condescension in this book and it detracts from the situations that are supposed to draw the reader in and, one suspects, garner sympathy for the author. Ms. Moaveni seems to have gone into her experience in Iran with blinders on. She is a woman who had extensive experiencing traveling in Iran for her work as a journalist but didn't seem to see the reality of the country. When confronted with it, she tends to bury her head in the sand. The book had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver.
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Posted July 2, 2009
Not as good as Ms. Moaveni's first book--Lipstick Jihad
I was disappointed when I read Honeymoon in Tehran. The overall book and chapter titles were misleading and provoked the reader to bland endings. The book did not go through a second draft it seems, with the various grammatical errors. Also, fancy words slowed the reader down, which caused the book to drag. Ms. Moeveni's knowledge and research about the Iranian culture and its people was excellent, but her approach and story telling failed to satisfy the reader. However, I recommend her first book Lipstick Jihad since it seemed to be more interesting and stimulating to the reader. Honeymoon in Tehran was repetitive and took longer to read because I'd expected it to be just as good as the first memoir.
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Posted March 28, 2009
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