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4.2 out of 5 stars
Embroideries
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Embroideries is a short book by the same author who wrote the two part graphic novel memoir "Persepolis" about her childhood in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. I enjoyed those books because it showed real life in Iran and it wasn't just a scary state of being that is often presented to the American public. (she showed people doing their best to maintain their dignity despite extreme circumstances) I think her latest book is an extension of that. This time the author Marjane Satrapi shares the stories the women in her family tell about love, life, sex, marriage and their place in it all. Many of the stories are absolutely hilarious and others are just plain heart-breaking. The heart-breaking ones make me think of Flannery O'Connor short stories for their slightly macabre tone and people going on with living despite such experiences. It was captivating because if it wasn't for the setting I think some experiences could be universal or common for many women in the world. Again the author shows Western readers that life in Iran isn't all veils and misery as we are often told. Women often get a raw lot there but there is also gentle beauty, broad humour and a close sense of family; where these women share their stories of wild living, love and even the joys of being a mistress. The illustrations are very simple black and white drawings but they reveal much more in subtle moments.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 9, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Marjane Satrapi, who earned her fame writing the graphic novels Persepolis and Persepolis 2, continues in the genre, retelling the stories overheard from the women in her family. Reading it is like being transported to her parlor, as they gossip about the good and bad (mostly bad) of the men in their lives.

The book's primary strength is Satrapi's relentless honesty in reporting what she sees. Weakness of characters as well as strength is portrayed. What is essentially a book of feminine sisterhood across generations also highlights personal fraility.

That said, the brevity and shallowness of topic make this significantly less moving and worthy than either Persepolis novel.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I picked up this book after reading Persepolis, which I felt examined a lot of issues in a surprisingly deep way. I expected this book to have some unexpected insights into Iranian women and their thoughts on sexuality, marriage, and men.

So I was disappointed by this comparatively shallow book. It read like an Iranian Cosmo - lots of light, fun tidbits but no truly compelling stories or insights that stood out, or that I can even remember the day after finishing it. The stories weren't connected in any way that gave them depth, and individually they had the feel of overhearing some gossip on the bus about someone you don't know - mildly interesting but nothing to think about after it is over.

It is a great way to entertain yourself on a rainy afternoon, and the author's illustrations are quirky and expressive as usual, but don't expect to want to press this book on your friends and relatives after reading it, the way I think many of us did with Persepolis.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
In this book we receive a third chance of meeting our former Persepolis and Persepolis 2 acquaintances; Marjane, the "observer" of life, her mother (the sensible, cool headed) and the grandmother (who in this story manages to steal the show). Embroideries presents several other characters such as the lovely aunts and relatives, each with her own unique features which Satrapi so well portrays (check out the cleavage), and her individual distinctive voice.

The idea behind "embroideries" has appeared in literature many times. A women gathering over a certain deed such as a quilting circle, baking of food or discussion of Jane Austen books, while pouring out their souls on womanly matters. In this story the gathering is around special cups of tea, brewed for at least half an hour. Satrapi however does not beat around the bush. The women move directly to Sex - the number 1 issue. Sex is a whole world of culture, politics and families. The stories are funny, sad and enraging. All feelings capsuled in short harsh hand strokes.

Just like the reading experience of Persepolis, in this story too the most striking and amazing things are told off hand.

Satrapi talks about her beloved grandmother and in the same breath tells us she was addicted to Opium. This is told as such an "everyday" fact that as you go along, you tend to accept it.

The name Embroideries first brings to mind the very womanly act of embroiding. As you read along you understand that this word has another meaning from a totally different realm. I believe that embroideries is also meant to be the "decorations" of life.

My only criticism of this book would be its length. The story is read in one sitting and definitely left me with a feeling of "not enough". I will have to wait for the next book.

I was also personally curious to know when did the gathering actually take place and how old was Satrapi at the time. Only when I write this down I understand that the book is probably the "summary" of several gatherings of the same kind and age is not really important. Maybe these are the sort of stories that the writer has heard all her life and therefore her liberal ideas and unique way of expression (comics) did not rise out of nowhere but out of her liberal intelligent background and the need to have a comical eye. These however are just my personal thoughts following the reading.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In Marjane Satrapi's latest book, Embroideries, she takes on the sex lives of Iranian women. Like in her past books the author brings to life colorful, lively women who discuss their most inner secrets about men, love, and "getting your virginity back," as where the title of the book comes from. The stories range from a woman getting plastic surgery to keep her man interest to another woman who finds out her husband is gay only after her arranged marriage to him. The stories are funny, sad, enlightening and all around fascinating. Although many of the experiences are unique to a Muslim woman's perspective, any woman, no matter what religion, will enjoy and related to some of the stories. This book proves that no matter what part of the world a woman is from, women have to deal with the same issues of love, sex and man troubles.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
In this graphic-novel style book, several women gather over after-dinner tea to "ventilate the heart," that is talk about the trials and tribulations of courtship and marriage in a culture where the sexes are far from equal, as well as to dish the dirt on some friends and acquaintances who are not present. Each woman has a story to tell that illuminates the sexual politics of a certain class of modern-day Iranians by revealing the secrets hidden by their socially respectable behavior. Marjane, the young, unmarried narrator of the book, lets them have their say, and what we get is a kind of memory play, sometimes poignant, often hilarious, with an all-female cast.

The title is a euphemism for a surgical procedure, which figures in a story or two in which a lost maidenhood is restored. In another story, a razor blade is put to use to similar effect but with unexpected results for the groom. There is discussion of nose jobs and the relocation of fat cells from a lower part of the body to a higher one. Young wives married to emigrants already living abroad find their hopeful expectations dashed in various and sundry ways. A marriage prevented by a prospective husband's tyrannical mother leads to a visit to a psychic, who prescribes a potion that backfires. And so on. The lesson of this enjoyable book is that for a clever and resourceful woman, there's often a way to get what she wants, even when the cards are stacked against her.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 22, 2006
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Marjane Satrapi has a gift of bringing images of Iran to life with minimal words and simple but elegant drawings. EMBROIDERIES details much about Iranian women through a discussion between women of various generations at a tea time. Satrapi was in charge of the samovar and stated that the tea at noon and night functioned as a gathering time for women to discuss men, love, sex and even plastic surgery. Prior to reading this book the first time, I was unaware of how independent-thinking Iranian women are. I also was unaware of the numerous tactics used to maintain this freedom in what is a very male-dominated society (and when you learn what embroidery means....). I think the funniest moment was the woman who tried to cut herself with a razor on her wedding night so her husband would think she was a virgin but instead the woman cut her husband! However, the naivete was also very apparent as one woman married a man, received many jewels as wedding gifts, and then allowed her husband to leave for Switzerland 10 days or so after their wedding with all of her jewels- and of course he asked for a divorce after he had taken all of her jewels and safely left the country. Reading this book was like getting a tiny but intimate glimpse into the lives of Iranian women and realizing that they are just like American women in many ways. I highly recommend this book but will state I enjoyed it better the second time than the first.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Embroideries" offers readers a quick laugh... No more, no less. Yes, we are ever so briefly able to take a glimpse into the sexual frustrations of Iranian women, but the fact that the subject isn't explored beyond an extremely superficial level renders this book more of a novelty than anything else.

I recommend reading "Persepolis" and "Persepolis 2" before opening up "Embroideries," which should be viewed as Marjane Satrapi having fun as opposed to her sitting down and creating a thoughtful work.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I agree with other reviewers in that 'Embroideries' is somewhat disappointing compared to Satrapi's earlier works, namely the first 'Persepolis.'

It is an incredibly quick and easy read with uninspiring and hurried art. The topic is never really delved into, and women are difficult to distinguish from each other. The cover is lovely, but not lovely enough to warrant purchasing this hardcover work.

Ultimately forgettable and relegated to the 'best-borrowed-from-the-library' category of texts. I look forward to Satrapi's next (and hopefully more successful) work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Satrapi's entertaining, educational and revealing books. Embroideries is all those things as well -- the only shortcoming is the length of the book -- the ending is very abrupt and you feel that there is much more to be said about the subject. Nonetheless would I recommend this book to anyone who liked Persepolis 1 & 2
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