Scent of Butterflies

Scent of Butterflies

4.3 8
by Dora Levy Mossanen
     
 

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An Iranian woman flees to America to take revenge on the two people she trusted the most

Soraya flies to America from Iran to plot revenge against her husband and her best friend who have betrayed her in the cruelest possible way. Against the backdrop of momentous historical events in Iran, we follow Soraya to Bel Air where she creates a haven

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Overview

An Iranian woman flees to America to take revenge on the two people she trusted the most

Soraya flies to America from Iran to plot revenge against her husband and her best friend who have betrayed her in the cruelest possible way. Against the backdrop of momentous historical events in Iran, we follow Soraya to Bel Air where she creates a haven for her butterfly obsession. When Soraya lures her friend to town, she arrives with Soraya's husband in tow. The unexpected secret they reveal to Soraya is far more devastating than anything she had imagined, threatening to further unhinge her.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
Soraya grew up in Iran surrounded by beauty and privilege. She is a photographer and independent woman, yet very much in love with Aziz, her husband. She can't bear to share him—even with her own potential child, so she has been on the pill without his knowledge since their wedding night. Yet when she walks in on her husband and childhood friend Parvenez (whose name means "butterfly" in Farsi) in flagrante delecto, Soraya flees Iran for Los Angeles under the guise of a photo assignment and buys a Bel Air mansion with funds given to her by her grandmother She raises, collects, and kills butterflies in the eucalyptus groves of her estate and plots a revenge on her friend. "I gently remove her from between my teeth. Squeeze the thorax between thumb and forefinger. A flutter. A sigh. And the insect goes limp." Mossanen (The Last Romanov) places the story primarily in Tehran at the end of 20th century where women are covered and can only appear in public in their rapoosh—"the dull brown mandatory overcoat," hidden in their mansions they sit on antique couches, walk on Persian carpets, and eat candied almonds. Their drivers take them to parties where they enter "makeup vestibules" to apply lipstick and adjust the designer fashions hidden under their robes. Politics and history play a small part in this tale, the real story here is of friendship, betrayal, and insanity fostered in those gated mansions, lush with the scent of spice and flowers. Agent: Anna Ghosh, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, Inc. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"... a lush, superbly narrated and highly provocative excursion into the passions and politics of love in our own tumultuous times." - The Jewish Journal

"A novel that twists its way into the dark heart of friendship, betrayal, love, and identity, Dora Levy Mossanen's Scent of Butterflies assumes the shape of its titular creatures, beautiful, surprisingly dangerous, and too delicate to pin down." - Elizabeth Eslami, author of Bone Worship and Hibernate

"Beautifully written... a lyrical and poignant tale of a woman with a heart burning from the sting of betrayal and a soul tormented with the longing for home." - Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us

"Dora Levy Mossanen has outdone herself in this scintillating tale of love, betrayal and self-discovery. Soraya, the main character, taunts and plays with the reader in her journey from the confines of Tehran to the chaos of Los Angeles. With vivid details and raw emotion, Scent of Butterflies is an enticing read that touches all the senses." - Fariba Nawa, journalist, speaker and author of Opium Nation and Afghanistan, Inc.

"Mossanen's novel of betrayal and obsessive love is spiced with fantastical elements" - RT Book Reviews

"Politics and history play a small part in this tale, the real story here is of friendship, betrayal, and insanity fostered in those gated mansions, lush with the scent of spice and flowers." - Publishers Weekly

"Layered over plot are lavish details of Soraya's old life back in Iran, revealing a culture in which women of elite families are pampered but also restrained on a "diamond-studded leash."" - Historical Novels Review

"Very eloquent... " - Charming Chelsey's

"Dora Levy Mossanen's words flow lyrically across the pages..." - BookLoons.com

Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-03
Mossanen (The Last Romanov, 2012, etc.) presents a dark novel steeped in international traditions about a woman, betrayed by those whom she holds dearest, who teeters on the brink of sanity. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and professional photographer Soraya's reaction to her husband's infidelity is no exception. The only daughter of privileged upper-class Jewish Iranians, she marries soul mate Aziz when she's 15 years old. Soraya's crazy about him--and that's no exaggeration. During their 20 years of marriage, Soraya's loved Aziz so obsessively she's secretly taken birth control pills because she can't stand the thought of sharing him with anyone, even their own child. So when Soraya spies Aziz in bed with her best friend, Parnaveh, she comes unraveled and plans her own convoluted payback on the unsuspecting couple. Telling Aziz she needs to fly to LA for a photo shoot, Soraya buys a creepy old home--the mansion's atrium harbors a grave containing the cremains of the previous owner's husband and provides a fertile environment for a foul-smelling, rare and toxic plant--and begins gathering the tools for her revenge. Soon, fluttering wings swoop into the courtyard as legions of butterflies (Parnaveh means "butterfly") and an owl (similar to one her grandmother once befriended) appear and begin to roost in the trees. Soraya views these as good omens, but the author's venture into magical realism bodes ill for readers hoping for a more straightforward, down-to-earth approach. As Soraya compiles a photo album for Aziz and readies her house for her former BFF's arrival, flashbacks of her family's life before and after the Islamic Revolution dominate her thoughts. The author awkwardly weaves these sections into the story seemingly at random, but the contrasts are nevertheless interesting and relevant to understanding Soraya's mental state. By the time Parnaveh arrives in LA with Aziz in tow, most readers will already have pieced together what Soraya is about to discover. Although Mossanen's prose is at times sensual and haunting, the overall narrative never effectively transitions beyond the caterpillar stage.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402284434
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
01/07/2014
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,419,207
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

Born in Israel and raised in Iran, Dora Levy Mossanen fled to the United States at the onset of the Islamic Revolution. She is the recipient of the San Diego Editor's Choice award and the author of The Last Romanov, Harem and the international bestseller Courtesan, which have both been translated into numerous languages, as well as The Last Romanov. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and a graduate of the USC masters of professional writing program. She lives in Beverly Hills, California.

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