From the award-winning author of Together Tea—a debut novel hailed as “compassionate, funny, and wise” by Jill Davis, bestselling author of Girls’ Poker Night—comes a powerful love story exploring loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.
Roya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper.
When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—she loses her heart at once. And, as their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.
A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again.
Until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her?
The Stationery Shop is a beautiful and timely exploration of devastating loss, unbreakable family bonds, and the overwhelming power of love.
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The Stationery Shop
“I made an appointment to see him.”
She said it as if she were seeing the dentist or a therapist or the pushy refrigerator salesman who had promised her and Walter a lifetime guarantee of cold milk and crisp vegetables and unspoiled cheese if only they would buy this brand-new model.
Walter dried the dishes, his gaze on the kitchen towel and its print of a yellow chick holding an umbrella. He didn’t argue. Walter Archer’s penchant for logic, his ability to let reason trump all, was a testament to Roya’s own good judgment. For hadn’t she married a man who was reasonable and, my goodness, unbelievably understanding? Hadn’t she, in the end, not married that boy, the one she had met so many decades ago in a small stationery shop in Tehran, but lassoed her life instead to this Massachusetts-born pillar of stability? This Walter. Who ate a hard-boiled egg for breakfast almost every single day, who said as he dried the dishes, “If you want to see him, then you should. You’ve been a bit of a wreck, I’m afraid.”
By now Roya Archer was almost American, not just by marriage but by virtue of having been in these United States for over five decades. She could remember a childhood spent in the hot and dusty streets of Tehran, playing tag with her little sister, Zari, but her life now was carefully enclosed in New England.
One visit to one shop a mere week ago—to buy paper clips!—had cracked everything open. Once again she was mired in 1953. Cinema Metropole in the middle of Iran’s largest city that contentious summer. The red circular sofa in the lobby, over which a chandelier’s crystals glistened like corpulent tears, smoke from cigarettes floated in wisps. Up the stairs and into the movie theater he had led her, and there on the screen, stars with foreign names caressed each other. After the film, he had walked with her in the summer twilight. The sky was lavender and layered with shades of purple so varied, they seemed impossible. He had asked her to marry him near the jasmine-soaked bushes. His voice cracked when he said her name. They had exchanged countless love letters, planned their union. But in the end, nothing. Life had pulled out from under her everything that they had planned.
Roya’s mother had always said that our fate is written on our foreheads when we’re born. It can’t be seen, can’t be read, but it’s there in invisible ink all right, and life follows that fate. No matter what.
She had squished that boy out of her mind for decades. She had a life to build, a country to get to know. Walter. A child to raise. That Tehran boy could very well be squeezed to the absolute bottom of the bucket, like a rag useless and worn out and pressed so far down into the depths that after a while he was almost forgotten.
But now she could finally ask him why he had left her there in the middle of the square.
Walter maneuvered the car into the slippery spot narrowed by snowbanks. When they jerked to a stop, Roya couldn’t open the car door. Somehow, during their long drive together, they’d become locked in.
He came around and opened the car door because he was Walter, because he had been raised by a mother (Alice: kind, sweet, smelled of potato salad) who had taught him how to treat a lady. Because he was seventy-seven and couldn’t comprehend why young men today didn’t handle their wives like fragile glass. He helped Roya out of the car and made sure her knitted scarf protected her nose and mouth against the wind. Together they walked carefully across the parking lot and up the steps of the gray building of the Duxton Senior Center.
A burst of overheated air greeted them in the lobby. A young woman, about thirty, her blond hair in a bun, sat behind a desk. A plastic badge with the name CLAIRE was pinned to her chest. Flyers tacked onto a bulletin board behind her desk exclaimed “Movie Night!” and “Bavarian Lunch!” all with exclamation marks, even as the edges of the flyers furled, even as crumpled people in wheelchairs inched their way across the linoleum floor and others pushing walkers steadied themselves so as not to fall.
“Hi there! Joining us for Friday lunch today?” Claire’s voice was loud.
Walter opened his mouth to say something.
“Hello, he won’t,” Roya quickly said. “My husband is going to try the famous faux lobster roll at the Dandelion Deli. I looked it up on the Yelp. So rare to find lobster roll served in the middle of winter, don’t you think? Even if it’s fake.” She was rambling. She was trying so hard not to be nervous. “It was given five stars.”
“That deli?” The receptionist looked surprised.
“Their lobster roll,” Roya mumbled.
Walter sighed. He held up five fingers to indicate to Claire that his wife believed in the five stars.
“Oh, okay! Lobster!” Claire nodded. She pronounced it lobstah. “Have to trust those Yelp reviews!”
“Go on, then,” Roya said gently to her husband. She raised herself on her toes to kiss Walter’s freshly shaven cheek. The crepey skin, his Irish Spring soap scent. She wanted to reassure him.
“Righty-oh.” Walter nodded. “You got it. Off I go, then.” But he didn’t move.
She squeezed his hand, the familiar soft grip of her life.
“Don’t let her get into too much trouble now,” Walter finally said to the receptionist. His voice was strained.
A blast of cold air filled the lobby when Walter walked out the double doors and descended into the icy parking lot.
Roya stood uneasily in front of the desk. She was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of ammonia and some kind of stew. Beef? Definitely beef with onions. The heat, cranked up to compensate for the New England cold, made the stew smell overpowering. She couldn’t believe she had actually come here. The radiators hissed, wheelchairs squeaked, it all suddenly felt like a terrible mistake.
“And how may I help you?” Claire asked. A gold cross hung around her neck. She looked at Roya with a strange expression, as though she knew her.
“I made an appointment to see someone,” Roya said. “One of your assisted-living patients.”
“Ah, you mean a resident. Great. And who may that be?”
“Mr. Bahman Aslan.” The words came out of Roya’s mouth slowly, like rings of smoke, visible and real. It had been years since she’d said his full name out loud.
The cross on Claire’s neck glinted under the fluorescent lights. Walter would be out of the parking lot by now.
Claire got up and came around the desk to face Roya. She gently took both of Roya’s hands in hers. “It is so nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Archer. I am Claire Becker, the assistant administrator at the Duxton Center. Thank you for coming. I have heard so very much about you. It means a lot to me that you are here.”
So she wasn’t the receptionist—she was an administrator. How did Claire Becker know Roya’s name? It must have been in the appointment book. She had made an appointment, after all. But why did this young woman act like she knew her? And how had she heard so much about her?
“Please come,” Claire said softly. “I’ll take you right to him.” This time she didn’t add the obligatory exclamation mark that seemed necessary for covering up misery around here.
Roya followed Claire down a corridor and into a large hall furnished with a long table and plastic folding chairs arranged on either side. But no one sat at the table playing bingo or gossiping.
Claire pointed to the far end of the room. “He’s been waiting for you.”
By the window sat a man in a wheelchair next to an empty plastic chair. His back was to them; Roya couldn’t see his face. Claire started to approach him, but then she stopped. She cocked her head and took in Roya from head to toe as if measuring her potential for safety, for harm, for drama. Claire fidgeted with her necklace. “Is there anything I can get you? Water? Tea? Coffee?”
“Oh, I’m fine, thank you for asking.”
“Are you sure?”
“You are kind to ask. But no.”
Now it was Claire’s turn to linger. By God, no one wanted to leave Roya alone with this . . . resident. For crying out loud. As if she, a small woman in her seventies, held any kind of power over him or anyone else anymore. As if she, Roya Archer, could torch the place down with her presence, create a blast just by being there.
“I am good,” she said. She’d learned to say that from Americans: I’m good, I’m fine, it’s all okay, okey-dokey. Easy-peasy Americanisms. She knew how to do it. Her heart pounded, but she looked steadily at Claire.
Claire lowered her head and finally turned and walked out. The click-click of her heels as she left the room matched Roya’s extra-loud heartbeat.
She could still follow Claire and leave this smelly place, catch up to Walter before he finished his lunch, go home, climb into bed, and pretend never to have made this strange miscalculation. It wasn’t too late. She imagined Walter hunched over his ginger beer and lobster roll alone at that deli—poor thing. But no. She’d come here to finally find out.
One foot in front of the other, that was how you did it. She forced herself toward the wheelchair by the window. Her heels didn’t click; she had on her trusty gray thick-soled shoes. Walter had insisted that she wear snow boots, but she had refused. She was willing to accept a lot of things, but seeing her old lover for the first time in sixty years while wearing fat Eskimo boots was one of the few things she could not accept.
The man was oblivious to her presence, as if she didn’t exist.
“I’ve been waiting,” a voice suddenly said in Farsi, and Roya’s body buzzed. That voice had both energized and comforted her when they were inseparable.
It was 1953. It was summer. She was seventeen. New England melted away, and the cold outside and the false heat inside evaporated, and Roya’s legs were tanned and toned, and they were standing, she and he, by the barricades, leaning onto the splintered wood, screaming at the top of their lungs. The crowd billowed, the sun burned her scalp, two long braids ended at her breasts, her Peter Pan collar was soaked in sweat. All around them, people pumped their fists and cried as one. Anticipation, the knowing of something new and better about to arrive, the certainty that she would be his in a free, democratic Iran—it was all theirs. They had owned a future and a fate, engaged in a country on the verge of a bold beginning. She had loved him with the force of a blast. It had been impossible to imagine a future in which she didn’t hear his voice every day.
On the linoleum, Roya saw her feet, suddenly unrecognizable to her—in gray little-old-lady shoes with thick soles and tiny bows on top.
The man wheeled his chair around and his face broke into a smile. He looked tired; his lips were dry and deep lines scored his forehead. But his eyes were joyful and filled with hope.
“I’ve been waiting,” he repeated.
Was it possible to slip so easily back? His voice was the same. It was him, all of it, the eyes, the voice, her Bahman.
But then she remembered why she had come. “I see.” Her voice came out much stronger than she’d expected. “But all I’ve wanted to ask you is why on earth didn’t you wait last time?”
She sank into the chair next to him, as tired as she’d ever been in all her years on earth. She was seventy-seven and exhausted. But as she remembered that cruel, disillusioning summer from which she’d never fully recovered, she felt as if she were still seventeen.
Reading Group Guide
This readers group guide for The Stationery Shop includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
From the award-winning author of Together Tea comes a powerful love story set against the political upheaval of 1953 Tehran. Roya, a dreamy and idealistic teenager, finds a literary oasis in the stationery shop where she meets Bahman, whose burning passion for justice and love of poetry mirror her own. She falls in love at once. But on the eve of their marriage, when they are to meet at the town square, violence suddenly erupts, and in the chaos, Bahman never shows. Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless and she resigns herself to never seeing him again. Until, more than sixty years later, a quirk of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. The first two chapters show us very different stages in Roya’s life. Discuss the similarities and differences between her life as a married woman in New England and her life as a teenager living in Tehran.
2. On page 3, Roya observes, “For hadn’t she married a man who was reasonable and, my goodness, unbelievably understanding? Hadn’t she, in the end, not married that boy, the one she met so many decades ago in a small stationery shop in Tehran, but lassoed her life instead to this Massachusetts-born pillar of stability?” How are Bahman and Walter different? How are they similar? What do you think Roya was looking for in each of them? How do her expectations for a relationship change throughout the story?
3. On page 56, after discovering Bahman’s mother believes he should marry Shahla, Roya tries to contain her anger: “This was the societal web of niceties and formalities and expected good female behavior that often suffocated her. But she had no choice but to bear it, to try to navigate within it. That much she knew.” Discuss the importance of “saving face” for Iranian women in the 1950s. Do those expectations differ from what was expected of American women? What about women today? Research the cultural expectations of young women in Iran and discuss as a group. How are they similar or different to the expectations you or the women in your life have experienced?
4. Roya and Zari have very different personalities and ways of looking at life, and the two sisters often argue and clash. But there is a bond between them that is unbreakable. Have you experienced that simultaneous closeness and clashing with siblings in your life? What do you think it is about the sibling relationship in general and Roya and Zari’s sisterhood in particular that lends itself to such contradictions?”
5. Throughout the course of her courtship in 1953, Roya experiences passion and longing in new, surprising ways. For example, on page 84, when she watches Jahangir and Bahman dance, she is filled with desire. Compare Roya’s desire as a young woman to Badri’s. Do their social classes influence their actions? What would be the repercussions if Roya acted as Badri did in her youth?
6. Marjan Kamali employs foreshadowing as a plot device in The Stationery Shop. Discuss how it adds to the story and moves the narrative along. How would the novel read without foreshadowing?
7. In the 1950s, women in Tehran weren’t allowed the freedoms, though still limited, that women in America were. How does Roya’s family challenge those social expectations? How does that inform Roya’s life as grown woman?
8. In chapter 14, the readers learn about the history between Mr. Fakhri and Bahman’s mother. After reading this, why do you think Badri treated Roya so terribly?
9. On page 172, Roya struggles with cultural differences in flirting: “Sometimes there didn’t seem to be any rules. It had been far easier in Iran where tradition and tarof who your grandfather was often dictated how to behave.” How do flirting and dating in both Tehran and America challenge Roya and her expectations for relationships? Discuss the differences in how Roya and Zari approach dating. Why do you think Zari feels more comfortable in America than Roya does? Do you think Roya would have had an easier time dating in America if she had never met Bahman?
10. In chapter 18, Bahman reveals the struggles of living with a mentally ill mother in Tehran. Discuss mental illness and its stigma as a group. How was mental illness viewed throughout time, and how does the treatment of the mentally ill vary across cultures? How is the way that Bahman and his father care for his mother countercultural?
11. At the beginning of chapter 19, Roya and Walter go on a double date with Zari and her boyfriend, Jack. Jack offends Roya with the way he speaks about Iran and its food and culture. Do you think Roya is right in feeling offended? Would you have been offended? Discuss cultural ignorance and bias as a group.
12. The characters in The Stationery Shop experience several devastating losses, from love to identity to miscarriage. How do they recover, and how do those losses forever change them? Can your group relate to these sorrows? What losses in your lives have forever changed you?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Before meeting as a group, each member should research the events of the 1953 Iranian coup d'état. Discuss your perceptions of Iran’s relationship with the US before and after learning about the coup. Did this research change what you think about the history of US foreign policy? Why or why not?
2. Marjan Kamali describes the food Roya, Zari, and their mother make in such beautiful detail that you feel like you can taste it through the pages. Have a dinner party where all members cook together and make dishes similar to the ones in The Stationery Shop. Discuss the sensory details of the food you make. Does the food live up to your expectations?
3. The Stationery Shop has many similarities to Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook. In both novels, one set of parents disapproves of and tries to sabotage the relationship. As a group, discuss love in the context of socioeconomic class and the importance of family in choosing a life partner.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
“Look, Zari, being in love is difficult to explain. When you know it’s right, you just know. There’s no avoiding it. It’s like … it’s like a tree has fallen on your head.” The Stationary Shop of Tehran is the second novel by Turkish-born author, Marjan Kamali. In 1953, Tehran is full of political unrest, but seventeen-year-old Roya Kayhani isn’t interested in all that (she hears it from her father constantly). Roya just wants to read: Persian poetry, Rumi in particular, or translated novels, it doesn’t matter which. That’s why she’s a regular visitor to the Stationery Shop opposite her school. It’s a place to retreat to, a calm of quiet and learning; Mr Fakhri often has a volume of poetry all ready for her; she just loves the piles of writing tablets and pencils and fountain pens. One Tuesday, while she’s idly perusing the shelves, a young man strides in whistling, collects some papers, rushes out again, but not before directing at her a dazzling smile and saying “I am fortunate to meet you.” Mr Fakhri tells her Bahman Aslan is “the boy who wants to change the world”. That (or perhaps Bahman?) should be approached with “vigilance” and “severe caution”. And yet, by the time they have met and chatted several Tuesdays in a row in his stationery shop, Mr Fakhri seems to need to check his inventory in the storeroom whenever they are there alone. Walks and the Café Ghanadi and the cinema, and gatherings with her sister and their friends at home follow. Roya’s father approves of this passionate young man, because he too believes fervently in their Prime Minister, Mohammad Massadegh, and his vision for the country. Roya worries a little about Bahman’s overt activism, and the Shah’s police, but he assures her all will be well. Soon they are engaged. Roya endures the nasty remarks and glares from her prospective mother-in-law. Life is wonderful and their future is bright. Then Bahman disappears without a word. Through Mr Fakhri, they communicate by long loving letters, but their arranged meeting goes badly awry. Was the destiny that her mother assured her was invisibly written on her forehead not to be with Bahman? It will be sixty years before they encounter one another again… What a wonderful cast of characters Kamali gives the reader: some are easy to love and others require sympathy and patience. Their emotions and feelings, so well conveyed, are many: love (of course!), jealousy, grief and guilt, pride, ambition and greed, courage and cowardice all feature. The narrative is carried principally by Roya, but Bahman’s perspective is shown through letters he writes Roya, with Mr Fakhri’s contribution filling in some important background. Kamali’s beautiful descriptive prose will easily evoke the fragrance of the Persian kitchen and that unique stationery shop smell. There are several incidents that will tug at the heart-strings so have the tissues ready. This is a beautiful book filled with lyrical prose and enclosed within a gorgeous cover. A wonderful read. This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Simon & Schuster Australia.
A story told over 60 years, the earliest introduction to Roya is as a high school girl living in 1953 Tehran. She, her sister, mother and father live a comfortable, if fairly modern life: her father wants his girls to be highly educated and successful, dreaming of the opportunities afforded by their forward-looking Prime Minister as he tries to bring a more democratic government into power, with opposition from the Shah’s supporters, Communists and other factions that are demonstrating, threatening and generally causing upheaval in the city. But Roya, a studious girl and lover of the translated classics as well as traditional Persian poets has found her ‘refuge’ in The Stationery Shop – where the papers, pens and books are everything a bibliophile could dream of. But, she also is enamored of Bahman, a friend of the owner Mr. Fakhri, a seriously politically active young man, destined to “change the world”. Mr. Fakhri is also beset with his own series of regrets and choices, having once lost the ‘love of his life’ to societal and parental expectations, he is fueling this young romance even as he warns Roya to proceed with caution. Starting as a tale of young love as the naïve Roya is introduced to many ‘western’ activities: tango and waltz parties, coffee shops, political activism movies and dreams of ‘a democratic Iran, she and Bahman grow closer and fall in love. Even with the odds stacked against them – as his mother is most probably suffering from bipolar depression – untreated and unremarked on as this is ‘not polite”, she has made plans for Bahman, to become all that he can be with a rich and successful wife who’s family is tied to the Shah, not Roya, daughter of a simple government clerk. Roya’s family is also hesitant, her sister being the most vocal against the connection, and when plans are made for them to meet and marry in secret – presenting everyone with a fait accompli, Bahman and Roya don’t meet – in fact she is witness to the death of Mr. Fakhri in a demonstration. Oh this story was E V E R Y T H I N G – from the young love and loss to the tumult of 1953 Iran, Roya’s subsequent emigration to study in California, and her marriage to a Boston-born law student. With all of the questions as to where they are now – or how things have been, the questions are never ending and the emotions, the what ifs, carry across miles and time. When she finally encounters Bahman’s son, running his father’s stationery store in a Boston suburb, the story comes full circle, and perhaps the two shall get answers to questions never asked. Told in multiple perspectives with a voice that not only ‘feels’ very authentic, but also details both daily life and customs and traditions in the very traditional Iranian culture, this was a ‘dip your toes into’ the smells, tastes and feel of Iran in the mid-20th century, told in ways that make the ‘different to your experience’ approachable and wholly tangible. For the prose, the voices and the convoluted story of a love that was derailed by others, the story comes to a lovely conclusion, with many answers and a sense of peace with the past, honoring both the cultures and experiences that brought them to now. The editor’s note talks about how emotionally compelling the story is, embedding itself into your pores no matter how long it is between returning to the story. I didn’t return to it – I devoured the story in a few hours, desperate to see if questions would be answered and discover if after
An emotional page turner that crosses Iranian and American cultures. Spans recent history with sometimes violent events. Young people growing up in turbulent times and trying to make a life then transitioning to old age.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gallery Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The book shares the history of Iran since the early 1950s with the politics of the Shah and Prime Minister Mossadegh. The Iranian culture impacts relationships with arranged marriages and not marrying “below”. At the center of the book is the Stationery Store in Iran which sounds like a place I would love. The characters are well developed and intertwined throughout the book. Bahman, a political activist, and Roya meet at the Stationery Store and become engaged to be married. Bahman’s mother wants another woman to marriage her son. At the core of the story are the twists and turns in Bahman and Roya’s relationship. Sad things happen at times and I found my heart heavy. All loose ends are tied up at the end of the book. I really enjoyed this book. I found it very insightful, interesting, and would recommend it.
This is one not to be missed ! Thank you Gallery Books for this free copy to review! I found the events of this novel to be timely with the increased presence of Iran in the news just now. The events covered in the novel explained a lot about Iran's modern history and its relationship with the west to me. The chapters covering Roya and Bahman's youth and courtship are energetic and expectant. However, the chapters following the coup have a different mood as life goes on in a different, unexpected direction. The novel can take you on an emotional roller coaster as you get invested in Roya and Bahman. The author perfectly captured those tender moments of first love and then shatters them. The reader is left with Roya to pick up the pieces and move on, patiently turning pages to find out what happened to separate these young lovers. I enjoyed this one so much. Its beautifully crafted and draws you in quickly. I highly recommend this one!
This beautifully-written story takes you to Tehran in the 1950s, on the eve of a revolution. Two teenagers fall in love, despite all odds, in a stationery store. The universe is determined to keep them apart, and when the time comes to run away and get married, the revolution is upon Iran and things don't go according to plan. Told over a lifetime, this story was moving and heartbreaking. I loved learning about Roya's family, her journey to America, and how she expressed herself and her culture through food.
What a beautifully written novel. This is the story of Roya and Bahman, two young teenagers who fall in love in 1953 Tehran. Their love blossoms while they visit the stationary shop owned by Mr. Fakhri. On the day of their wedding, they are to meet in the town square, but Bahman doesn't show up. Violence has erupted around the square as Roya waits for Bahman. It takes 60 years but Roya finally sees Bahman again and learns what happened that fateful day and why they didn't spend their lives together. There were alot of circumstances that fought against their love in the past. It was a joy to read this book. The character development and description of the times, places and culture of Tehran made this a book not to miss. Thank you netgalley for allowing me to read this advanced readers copy for my honest, unbiased opinion.
Roya and Bahman are two teenagers in Teheran in 1953. They fall in love, get engaged and the day before they are due to get married, Bahman disappears. Roya never knows what happened, but, sixty years later she has a chance to ask him. This book was interesting because it was not just a beautiful romance but told a great deal about Iran, both the culture and the politics at that time. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Although the start of this book is slow, if you can stand a slow burn sort of book, this one is definitely for you. I love a book set in a culture foreign to me and this fit that bill. Beautiful story, beautiful writing and amazing atmosphere. I loved this! The setting and story just draws you in if you let it, and I would say just let it! #TheStationaryShop #NetGalley
Set in a time period spanning over 60 years, this interesting novel tells not only a love story between Roya and Bahman who meet in a stationery shop in their youth, but also shows a glimpse into the Iranian political and cultural history during the 1950’s to 2013. I fell in love with Mr. Fakhri who ran the shop that plays such a pivotal role in this novel. Full of strong, intriguing characters, romance laced with some heartbreak, and with a bit of familial conspiracy and secrets, this book kept me turning the pages! I received an ARC of this book thru NetGalley and Simon & Schuster and was under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
This being the first book I've read from author Marjan Kamali, I really enjoyed how well-written this book is and how the plot just continues to build up, and the characters just comes alive at every scene. I love how this book showed how the Iranian culture is very rich in symbolism and tradition and how this book clearly portrays the patriotism that burns in every young man's heart only to grow disillusioned with age. War, of any kind, is never an easy subject. It tears apart everything in it's path and negatively affects the lives of everyone around it but despite the turmoil, grief and pain, love wins in the end. The heart of this story is about Mr. Ali Fakhri's and Mrs. Badri Aslan's past that affects Roya's & Bahman's future together. Despite how everything else turned out okay, this book has that dark cloud of sadness hovering over each page. The pain of not knowing why and yet continuing to pine for the one person, your first true love, the one who broke your heart is just heart-breaking and utterly sad. If you are one who enjoys reading about other people's cultures, social classes, history and believe that first love never dies, then this book is for you. Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.
This book wrecked me. Up at midnight, bawling into my e-reader as I finished this book. Kamali knows how to ratchet up the emotions. She also knows how to write a beautiful book, full of incredible prose, believable characters and an intricately woven plot that will have you gasping as it unfolds. The story of star-crossed lovers Roya and Bahmin will sit with you for years to come.