Although born in Iran, Mosteshar, a journalist who has worked as a correspondent for leading British periodicals, was educated at Oxford. On periodic visits to her homeland, she lived as a member of Iran's wealthy elite until the Shah was overthrown in 1979. This anecdotal and somewhat disjointed memoir describes the changes that took place after the religious revolution, both in her personal life and in the lives of Iranian women. Initially sympathetic to the goal of revolutionary forces to address the needs of the poor, Mosteshar became disillusioned when her father was called a CIA agent, her personal fortune was confiscated and women's civil rights were stripped away. For reasons the author does not make clear, she married a poor Iranian who stole her money, raped her and lied about his divorce from his first wife, whom Mosteshar supported financially. After much hardship, she escaped from this relationship and now lives in England, fearing retribution should she return to Iran. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Sattarah Farman Farmaian's Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem Through the Islamic Revolution (LJ 1/92), this autobiographical account depicts the social conditions of women in Iran. Both Farmaian and Mosteshar, raised in the genteel society of rich Persian families, found it easy to adapt to the Westernized Iran of the Shah. However, on returning from England after the coming of the Ayatollahs, Mosteshar was unable to respect the pious hypocrisy or function as a chattel whose every move was controlled by men, when even a wisp of hair peeking from beneath a head scarf might invoke a beating from the Morals Police. Though critical of the ridiculous rules and the plight of women in this society, Mosteshar also falls into the trap of becoming second wife to an unadulterated boor. At times amusing, this book sometimes seems to border on fiction. Recommended for popular collections.-Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville
This gripping, unforgettable work by journalist Mosteshar provides a firsthand account of a woman's life in conservative, Islamic Iran." "Born in Iran but schooled in the West, Mosteshar returned after the revolution to report on her native country for the foreign press. What she found was shocking to her; she describes how a woman is required to wear a full-length body covering (the chador) or be branded a whore, how a woman is worth only half a man, how a woman must have written permission from her father or husband to travel, how her children belong to her for only the first seven years of their lives. And she writes of the devastating effect that this loss of personal freedom has had on Iranian women." "It was during the course of her reporting on the Iranian government that Mosteshar began to question aloud Islamic laws regarding women. After she was nearly arrested and considered returning to the West, she met an Iranian man who seemed to be on her side. It was only after she married him that she discovered his true misogynistic nature, and it was only after fleeing Iran that she escaped from that particular nightmare.
An aesthetically minded anthropological study documenting the lives of independent loggers in Orofino, Idaho, distinguishing itself by avoiding stereotypes and rhetoric and concentrating instead on the community's attitudes. James-Duguid interviews town elders, loggers, and residents about their private lives, community activities, and daily work patterns, discovering a town that is proud, hard working, and concerned with the environment from which it derives its livelihood. Includes photographs and illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A talky, untidy, but nevertheless hard-to-put-down account of what happens when an expatriate journalist from a fabulously wealthy Iranian family resettles in her homeland to write about life under Islamic rule.
As a woman, Mosteshar must wear the chador, or veil, plus trousers and coat in even sweltering weather to prevent any chink of female hair or flesh from showing, in conformity with endless (and changeable) social and religious codes. In her various quests to obtain a press card, get medical care for her relatives, and ultimately marry and divorce, she must deal with a bureaucracy corrupt beyond Kafka's wildest nightmares. Undeterred by the miserable examples of her female relatives, the wives of boors who, according to Mosteshar, use the Koran as a sanction to abuse and humiliate, she too, marries a boorthis one with another wife and family he requires her to both countenance and financially support. Her motives for marrying this man against her own better judgment are never made explicit. Naturally, the marriage is a disaster. Being Iranian, for Mosteshar, becomes a kind of gruesome psychological affliction: The good Muslim wife that she, despite her Oxford education, strives to be is, by Western standards, a victim of masochism and delusion. Finally, she does rouse herself to begin the difficult process of regaining her freedom and repairing her damaged self. Although the book contains much interesting informationwe learn of the seegeh, or temporary marriage (basically legalized adultery), the "morals police," and constant body searchesand often a comic tone, Mosteshar has evidently not awakened completely enough from her nightmare to tell her story with much perspective: There are far too many repeated assertions of how much she hated her husband and how disgusting his sexual advances and gobs of spit were.
Overall, reading Unveiled, it's hard not to see today's Iran as a vast, ugly tragedy for women.
"A hard-to-put-down account."