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4.4 out of 5 stars
A Bitter Veil
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I enjoyed this well written story. I know it is fiction but you get an insight into another culture. A learning expeience and entertaining.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the best book I've read recently. It's about a woman whose choices are being taken away from her while her marriage and life disintegrate. It's about how adversity can bring out people's best and worst, strengths and weaknesses. It's a love story, a glimpse into Iran's turmoil and culture, an adventure and a journey through adversity, into strength, forgiveness and understanding of the human spirit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Bitter Veil was well written. I got to know the characters immediately. Section three was gripping and had some surprises.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
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!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This suspenseful story had many interesting details relating to the upheaval in Iran when the Shah was replaced. Although this is a work of fiction, the historic and political details were well represented in this story. The twists and turns of the story kept me wanting more of the story, clear to the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
My moniker, @krautgrrl, has been supporting indie writers and after reading bunch of them I tackled A Bitter Veil. This book was amazing, from the history, to the story of Anna, to the well-portrayed characters. Hellman created a world I was immersed in, and while I have been to Israel and not Iran, I all ready know history pretty thoroughly. Hellman's back was well-thought out, a writers and readers dream book!

No typos, at all. I think this is the first book I've read in months that did not have any typos or grammar errors. While Anna longed from family while living in Chi, she got it in spades when she married Nouri and moved to Iran. The twist of her father being a former Nazi, was great, along with an indifferent Parisian mother. Love is so blind, but this book shows that there is good in most people.

A Bitter Veil is a must read according to @krautgrrl. Look for me on twitter bragging about this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
It isn't often a book won't let me put it down at 10pm so I can go to bed. I stayed up until midnight finishing this one. And even more rare: it was worth the missed sleep.

It isn't really a mystery or a romance. It's more of a human interest story, I think. It really gave me a lot of insight into the culture of Iran at the time of the story.

I'm definitely looking for more of this author's books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A Bitter Veil
Libby Fischer Hellman
Allium Press
April 15, 2012
Paperback
ISBN: 978-0983193814
$16.99
316 pages

For many of us growing up as children in the middle of the twentieth century, we expected to have our
dreams fulfilled, love, marriage, education, a successful career, ...

Hindsight always gives a person an advantage. However, in A Bitter Veil, an American girl, Anna, meets
an Iranian boy, Nouri, who is studying engineering in Chicago. They meet in a bookstore and begin to
discuss Persian poetry. This is the beginning of their loving relationship. It seemed like the perfect
match even though she was blond and he had dark hair. Both had that Aryan look about their eyes.
At that time not many people in this country had married someone from this area of the world. Being
That in Iran at this time had about 46,000 Americans living there and appeared progressive with
technology, styles, and habits, no one could have predicted how things could and would change in a
very short time.

Anna had never been close to her family so her love for Nouri fulfilled her and she eagerly anticipated having an extended family, even if it is in Iran. Fortunately, Nouri's family was wealthy and greatly benefited from the Shah's reign basically living a Western life in Tehran.

As the couple begins their new life in the modern Iran of 1978, the southern section of Tehran is having demonstrations and riots due to the inequality of opportunities inside this country. The southern part of this city is poor, the northern section where this couple lives, appears not to even be aware of the problems.

When the Shah leaves and the Ayatollah returns to the country, many people are eager for the change, this should fulfill their hopes and dreams. However, when the U.S. Embassy is attacked and those inside are held hostage, the attitude towards Americans and modernization quickly changes. This reversion to the old beliefs is difficult for those who were in favor with the previous governmental powers.

In A Bitter Veil, the voice of Anna is realistic and believable. Libby Fischer Hellman extensively researched this time period, the changes in Iran, and those people who actually underwent this experience. This in-depth fictional story is well-organized, engaging, as well as informative of actual historical episodes and the effects on those Americans in Iran.

A Bitter Veil is a true historical experience. Even though it is a romance at first, it is also a mystery, and definitely reflective to the changes within Iran.

Hindsight always makes us reflect into a right or wrong situation. A Bitter Veil allows us to view the changes through the eyes of a naïve Westerner while also having the reader develop a deeper understanding of the people.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This was a 5 star book, a work of literary fiction, political thriller, near-current historical fiction. It had everything, drama, young love, revolutionary changes, iconic characters, and a reign of terror. But somehow, the author felt obligated to include a cliche'd murder mystery. In the process, she ruined two wonderfully complicated characters and resorted to stereotypes. This is especially unfortunate because these two characters are already in an ethnic group most Americans misunderstand. Okay, enough about that...

Nouri was Anna's dream come true, a handsome, charming man she met at a Persian bookstore. Their torrid love affair ended in a fairy-tale wedding and inclusion into a wealthy, loving, and accepting family. Anna's own family was broken rather early, and in Nouri's family and country, pre-Khomeini Iran, she enjoyed a honeymoon with a culture, people, and land in transition.

The book documents the way ordinary people adapt and are affected by traumatic change. There is denial, anger, bargaining, and stultifying acquiescence. Eventually, Anna's life is reduced to that of a Islamic wife hidden behind a chador, a virtual prisoner to her increasingly moody and fanatic husband. Her trials and escape were dramatic and filled with poignant detail. If I ignore the murder mystery subplot, I come away with a great sense of tragedy, sadness for Nouri's family and people, and hope for Anna, in that surviving, she would be stronger and able to forgive her husband for his weaknesses.

I received a complimentary e-book for review purposes.
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