A Bitter Veil

A Bitter Veil

by Libby Fischer Hellmann

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It all began with a line of Persian poetry . . .
Anna and Nouri, both studying in Chicago, fall in love despite their very
different backgrounds. Anna, who has never been close to her parents, is
more than happy to return with Nouri to his native Iran, to be embraced by
his wealthy family. Beginning their married life together in 1978, their world
is abruptly turned upside down by the overthrow of the Shah, and the rise
of the Islamic Republic.
Under the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard, life becomes
increasingly restricted and Anna must learn to exist in a transformed world,
where none of the familiar Western rules apply. Random arrests and torture
become the norm, women are required to wear hijab, and Anna discovers
that she is no longer free to leave the country.
As events reach a fevered pitch, Anna realizes that nothing is as she thought,
and no one can be trusted�not even her husband.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014959209
Publisher: Allium Press of Chicago
Publication date: 04/15/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 331,540
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Libby Fischer Hellmann is the award-winning author of the Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis mystery series; "Nice Girl Does Noir," a two volume short story collection; and the stand-alone novel, "Set the Night on Fire." She also edited the highly praised crime fiction anthology, "Chicago Blues." She has lived in the Chicago area over thirty years.

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A Bitter Veil 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
mega-reader1 More than 1 year ago
"A Bitter Veil," Libby Fischer Hellmann's stunning stand-alone novel, is a compelling page turner, combining politics, romance and mystery set against the tumultuous background of the Iranian Revolution. Like her previous suspense novel, "Set The Night On Fire," the subject is women in peril during a period of violent cultural and political schisms. The story oopens in a Chicago bookstore in 1977 when protagonist Anna meets Nouri -- a wealthy young Iranian student whose family is close to the Shah -- with whm she begins a passionate love affair. It follows the couple as they marry, move to Iran and live through the turbulent years preceding, during and following the Ayatollah Khoumeni's return to Tehran from his exile in Paris. What happens to Anna and Nouri, and to their family and friends, vividly reveals how people are dramatically transformed by external events. With poignancy and grace, the author shows how individuals respond to revolution, threat and violent change, how events can bring out both the best and worst in people. Hellmann, an award-winning fiction author, just gets better with each book. She is currently working on a novel set in Cuba which I eagerly anticipate reading.
SamSattler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Libby Fischer Hellman is best known for the mysteries featuring strong female leads she writes, but her latest is more like last year¿s Set the Night on Fire in which Hellmann took a more literary approach to a specific period of American history (the radicalism of the 1960s). With A Bitter Veil, the author focuses on the series of events that would lead both to the rise to power in Iran of the infamous Ayatollah Khomeini and to the downfall of American president Jimmy Carter. What makes the novel such a compelling read is Hellmann¿s skill at recounting this turning point in the relationship of the two countries through the eyes of a rather naïve young American woman who falls in love with an Iranian student she meets in Chicago. Similar stories have, sadly, happened all too often in the real world during the last three decades.Abby would like a family within which she can feel secure and protected, but she has the opposite. She is not particularly close to either of her parents; in fact, her mother has lived in her own native France for most of Abby¿s life. Her physical and emotional response to Nouri, the young Iranian student she meets in a Chicago bookstore both surprises and pleases her. From almost the moment they meet, the two young people are inseparable and Anna dares to hope for a long future with Nouri. She is willing, almost eager, to follow him back to Iran to begin life there as a married woman. As fate would have it, the couple returns to Iran at precisely the moment the Shah¿s power and his hold on the government are slipping away forever. So gradually that Anna fails to recognize the warning signs, Nouri changes from the religiously liberal man she married into a strict follower of Islam. Nouri, whose father is close to the Shah and has become wealthy through his political connections, makes the change largely to ensure his own economic survival. Anna can understand the necessity of wearing the veil in public but in reality she becomes her husband¿s prisoner - never allowed to leave their home alone. Worse, she learns that because she married in Iran she cannot leave the country legally without her husband¿s permission. Nouri swears he will never allow her to leave. The Bitter Veil is the story of a typical young American who finds herself tested in ways that the average, naïve American could not imagine in the late 1970s that they would ever be tested. The things that happen to her are simply not supposed to happen to an American ¿ but when they do she must rise to the occasion if she hopes to survive long enough to escape Iran.I do have one warning about the novel¿s ending: do not begin the final segment (you will recognize it when you get there) unless there is time to finish the rest of A Bitter Veil before bedtime. Consider yourself warned.Rated at: 4.0
cameling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Historical fiction covering the unrest in the 1970s that led to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the overthrow of the Shah of Iran's dynasty and the establishment of an Islamic republic under the Ayatollah Khomeini . Anna, a young American woman falls in love with a Nouri, rich Iranian student who, despite his background, believes that Iran would benefit from democracy. They get married and move to Iran where his father, businessman in the oil industry and with links to the Shah, gets him a job with a French company. They continue to live in the lap of luxury even as tension continues to grow in Iran.Their lives and that of their family and friends are disrupted by the strikes, demonstrations and ultimate increasingly religious tone to the country. As Shariah law is established under this new government, Americans like Anna, are increasingly at risk of imprisonment for various crimes, some fictitious and some real. An American woman who marries an Iranian man has her passport surrendered to the Iranian government, and is unable to leave the country without the permission of her husband.As things continue to escalate out of control in the country, so does Anna and Nouri's marriage. What was once a loving relationship unravels in the confusion of those who were once the elite in the country, trying to make sense of the country they still loved but no longer understood, of those who had enjoyed religious freedom now being coerced into Islamic practices they did not previously believe in. In Anna and Nouri's case, that confusion leads to not just in the destruction of their marriage, but in tragedy.I wasn't terribly impressed with the book when I first started it, but as it progressed and especially when the author moved into the history of the revolution and the changes in the various characters, I was completely in her grip and couldn't put the book down until the conclusion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Makes me thankful to live in the usa- one always wonders what goes on in other countries. A very good eye opening book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved.  Loved the development of the characters, the history of Iran and the reality of how life can change  in an instant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many readers will remember the harsh reign of Khomeini. In Libby Hemmann's novel, she writes with such genuine emotion that the reader is immediately drawn into the storyline. Anna's story could be our story or our daughter's story of love and loss. The familiar themes of family, love, loss are multiplied because of the unique setting, culture, and time. This novel is wonderfully written with such passion and compassion and is a must-read.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Audio Book Review: I actually ended up listening to this all in one straight shot, as every time I went to put it down there was an event unfolding that needed me to know its resolution.  This is one of those stories that while it deals with the near-past, the events and understanding brought forward in the book will provide readers / listeners with a better grasp on the complexities of current world situations.  Anna is an interesting character, one that I found rather needy and more than slightly naïve, which worked to her detriment for a large part of the story.  Nouri is also a well-defined character, who is practicing the often-common phenomenon of Americanizing his behaviour and attitudes while you are away from parental control and societal constraints while you are a student abroad.   Early on in the story, we see flashes of Nouri’s ingrained attitude toward a woman’s place, although Anna misses every signal, more enamored of the idea of love and belonging than actually creating a solid relationship.   As the story progresses and Anna attempts to adapt to her position as a wife of a Muslim man living in Tehran,  their relationship is slowly fraying because she is starting to see the reality of the relationship and looking to question, when Nouri will entertain none of her questions and often is abusive and controlling of her every move.  All the while, the country is in turmoil and the various factions are struggling for control. Nothing and nowhere is truly safe, settled or even secure.  It becomes a gripping tale of multiple fractures in the foundations of relationships, families and countries.   Impeccably researched, with a clever inset of a crime with a highly improbable (from the outside) suspect, dramatics from family and events, a solid inclusion of Farsi and other Islamic traditions  this book is laden with information as it leads you through the plot.  Diane Pirone Gelman is a marvelous narrator, with pitch, tone and clarity of the tongue twisting words in Farsi all serve to immerse the listener into the story.   Libby Fischer Hellman has done it again: provided a story that is no holds barred, researched it thoroughly and provided a plot that keeps you engaged and interested in what happens next.  This is the perfect listen for your commute or a long journey: 9 hours flew by from start to end.  I received an AudioBook version from the author for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word at I am, Indeed. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. You will enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Perfect blend of character, plot, current events and excellent research American Anna meets Iranian Nouri in a bookstore in Chicago where they’re both students. Sensitive and artistic, Anna soon falls for Nouri’s reading of Iranian poetry. Meanwhile Nouri joins protests against the Shah of Iran. When Nouri decides to return home to a job, Anna agrees to marry and go with him, but the timing proves disastrous as Iran falls under anti-American leadership, the newly free venting their fury on the upper classes with random arrests and even torture. Author Libby Fischer Hellmann blends excellent research into convincing story-telling with her novel A Bitter Veil. Avoiding condemnation, she presents the tortuous mix of ideals and consequences through the eyes of a stranger to the world. Initially delighted to be welcomed into Nouri’s family, Anna falls in love with the countryside and people, only to find her hopes betrayed. Fragile friendships might save or destroy, and the darkness of Iran’s revolution becomes not only painfully clear but also rationally predictable. In another age, in another part of the world, a people fell apart. Anna’s horror at who her German father might have been provides a powerful background to who her new friends become, and this story is simultaneously enthralling, scarily real, and deeply thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel from World Literary Café in exchange for my honest review.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
In a departure from her popular Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis series, Libby Fischer Hellmann leaves Chicago with a fascinating and obviously well-researched novel set at the time of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970’s. Her protagonist, Anna Schroder, an English major at the University of Chicago, also leaves that town, in January of 1977, after a passionate romance with Nouri Samedi, a handsome engineering student who quotes poetry to her and sweeps her off her feet. The reader knows literally from the opening pages that things will not end well. Nouri is the only son whose parents are wealthy and well-connected. Anna longs for a loving family – her parents divorced when she was five, and her mother moved back to her native Paris; her German father, a scientist – with whom she hadn’t had contact in a long time - is in America. When she and Nouri decide to marry despite their apparent cultural differences, they move to Tehran, where unrest and demonstrations against the Shah are beginning. Within a few short months, the military government resigns, the Shah is forced out, and Ayatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard have taken over. They want nothing less than to purge Iran of all traces of the shah. The repercussions, for any opposed to the new rule of law, especially among those from America, the “Great Satan,” are profound. Anna is told by an Iranian bookseller, who is forced to keep hidden away any counter-revolutionary poetry or books by such as e.e. cummings or William Shakespeare not already confiscated, “We have been victims for years. Invaders, the shah, now the revolution. It is all the same.” The background of that area of the world and the “complicated history of Islam” provided by the author is extremely interesting. Nouri, discussing the volatile situation with his childhood friend, says “yes, we opposed the shah. But our goal was a democratic government, not an Islamist republic. Don’t you remember?” We are told that the people “long for Iran to create a parliamentary democracy. It would be a blessing for the people of Iran, the Middle East, the entire world. But Khomeini has made it clear that’s not his priority.” Things reach a fevered pitch, and Anna doesn’t know who can be trusted. Those looking for the mystery element usually found in this author’s books will not be disappointed, for there is a murder and a surrounding mystery along the way. The book is completely absorbing, and is recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jlbb More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading "A Bitter Veil." Hellman's development of the characters was outstanding. Even with their flaws, you still cared about them. Having read other books by Hellman, I was not disappointed in her newest work. I appreciate the amount of research that was done for this book.
abaldree More than 1 year ago
This is my first novel by Ms. Hellmann. After having met her during a trip, I was honored to be given an advance copy of this wonderful novel. Now that I have completed this novel, I am working my way through her earlier works. It amazes me how a novel set 30 years ago can still be relevant. So many themes discussed in this book could be applied to our political and social climate today. This novel centers around two younger lovers from polar opposite backgrounds who meet in 1978. The protagonist, Anna, meets and falls in love with the dashing Nouri, an Iranian studying in Chicago. In the name of love, Anna sacrifices her entire life – work, education, family, and friends – to move to Iran and marry Nouri. She quickly finds herself alone in a strange land. Nouri spends more and more time with old friends Anna does not approve of. To make matters worse, the escalation of political tensions start to diminish rights of women in Iran. Ever the loving wife, Anna tries to conform to these news ways, even though they go against her entire belief system. As the situation worsens Anna must decide who to trust and whether her life is more important than her marriage. This well-written novel will have you staying up late into the night in order to read one more chapter!
Tiddlywinks More than 1 year ago
A Story Poignant for the Times. I thoroughly enjoyed the book “A Bitter Veil” by Libby Fischer Hellmann. The story starts with a chance encounter in a college book store where Anna is looking for a book of poetry and meets Nouri. It doesn’t take long for them to fall in love. Anna and Nouri are caught up in the demonstrations that spark the Iranian Revolution. As history tells us the ouster of the Shah creates the power vacuum for the Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran. As their studies are concluding, Nouri proposes and they prepare to move to Tehran. Anna longs for a family to belong and welcomes the chance to make Iran her home with Nouri. It doesn’t take long for the events in Tehran to deteriorate and Anna’s life becomes difficult. Each page is filled with the tension that comes from the understanding of life in country of no rights. Even in light of the extreme political turmoil, Anna comes to recognize her inner strength that wills her to survive. As current events unfold across the news sources today, I enjoyed a story that made me more aware of the plight of women in the Middle East. Libby did a wonderful job of incorporating her extensive research on the Iranian Revolution into the life of Anna. It definitely was a page turner. I highly recommend this book.