“Tantalizing . . . Bold, bewitchingly humorous and politically astute . . . A cheeky and knowing peek at the loves, sexual histories and marital secrets of . . . these beautiful and seductive women.”
“Endearing . . . A wicked read.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Humorous and bawdy . . . An amusing portrayal of independent women taking life in stride.”
—The Village Voice
“Embroideries is as funny, opinionated, controversial and surprising as any good comic or conversation should be.”
“Subversive . . . Satrapi’s book is a mocking rebuke to the cult of chastity, and a statement about the way human passions find their way around the most determined repression.”
“By turns bawdy and heartbreaking . . . Of all Satrapi’s books, Embroideries most effectively tears down the divide between Iranian and American culture, showing how women everywhere are similar.”
—The Capital Times (Madison)
In Embroideries, a memoir of one intensely ribald all-female tea party -- pray it was a composite! -- Satrapi's gift for masterful, outrageous storytelling is indisputable. It's tempting to ascribe her tale's power to her ear for sensational gossip: Virtually every page of Embroideries leads up to or pays off with a disclosure that could make a roomful of "Sex & The City" writers blush. Who'd have thought that behind Iran's closed doors the conversation would be as wholesome as "American Pie"? But it's an entirely different shock value that makes reading Satrapi such a joy -- the shock of discovering a new voice bringing new stories to the table, playing by new rules, and pulling it off like an old master.
The Washington Post
This slight follow-up to Satrapi's acclaimed Persepolis books explores the lives of Iranian women young and old. The book begins with Satrapi arriving for afternoon tea at her grandmother's house. There, her mother, aunt and their group of friends tell stories about their lives as women, and, more specifically, the men they've lived with and through. One woman tells a story about advising a friend on how to fake her virginity, a scheme that goes comically wrong. Another tells of escaping her life as a teenage bride of an army general. Satrapi's mother tells an anecdote of the author as a child; still others spin yarns of their sometimes glamorous, sometimes difficult, lives in Iran. The tales themselves are entertaining, though the folksiness and common themes of regret and elation feel familiar. Satrapi's artwork does nothing to elevate her source material; her straightforward b&w drawings simply illustrate the stories, rather than elucidating or adding meaning to them. Characters are hard to distinguish from each other, and Satrapi's depictions of gestures and expressions are severely limited, hampering any attempt at emotional resonance. This work, while charming at times, feels like an afterthought compared to Satrapi's more distinguished work on Persepolis and its sequel. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"To speak behind others' backs is the ventilator of the heart": a sentiment surely shared by many people the world over but that acquires more urgency for women living under repression. With those words, Satrapi's formidable grandmother opens the door on an evening of gossip, confession, laughter, and tears among female friends and family in Iran. Grandma tells the story of a friend's botched attempt to pretend on her wedding night that she was still a virgin, another woman tells a story of cosmetic surgery with a hilarious punch line, and many of the women share stories of how they and their friends have suffered at the hands of husbands and lovers. Discussions of sex are frank and explicit and laced with high humor. As in her immensely acclaimed Persepolis, Satrapi's simple black-and-white cartooning style is tremendously effective, expertly portraying emotional nuances with just a few lines. While Persepolis had wide appeal to both genders, this book is likely to find a more predominately female audience; highly recommended for all adult collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.] Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Let's talk about sex . . . and the disappointments of men. In her previous pair of graphic novels (Persepolis, 2003 and 2004, whose acclaim helped to heighten the recent push to further legitimize an always somewhat maligned field), the young author told the autobiographical story of her unsuccessful life in Europe before being forced to return to her native Iran, and the culture clash that ensued. This time, Satrapi keeps to her earlier themes of autobiography, Iranian womanhood and its conflicts within a traditional society being encroached on by Western ideas, while providing a somewhat lighter framework. Structured more as a casual conversation, a coffee klatch among the girls, Satrapi eavesdrops on her grandmother and relatives and friends as they talk about being women and, more specifically, about men. It's refreshingly surprising from the get-go, as Satrapi introduces her grandmother as an elegantly made-up grande dame, an old woman who just happens to be a lifelong opium addict and who encourages Satrapi to close her eyes more-all in order to have a drugged look that would be seductive for men. Placed in charge of the all-important samovar, Satrapi listens as the women sip their tea and talk, because as her grandmother says, "to speak behind others' backs is the ventilator of the heart." In these anecdotes, men are uniformly imbecilic, or simply clueless, as witnessed by the story of the non-virginal woman who took the grandmother's advice and, on her honeymoon night, placed a razor blade between her thighs so that her husband would think he'd broken her hymen. Things didn't go well. More laughs are to be had, though often bittersweet, in the other tales in which women findthemselves stuck between a patriarchal tradition and the desire for love and freedom, though nothing is made out to be quite so simple as that. Lighter in subject matter than her previous work, Satrapi keeps things semicomical, even when relating matters of severe heartbreak, and her dashed-off drawings (with their slightly childlike expressions) help matters along.