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Embroideries (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Paperback – April 18, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Satrapi follows her acclaimed youth memoirs Persepolis (2003) and Persepolis 2 [BKL Ag 04] with some tales her grandmother, mother, aunts, and their bosom friends told her about sex and men--stories that are frank, funny, occasionally sad, and utterly credible. Thrice-married Grandma recalls the friend who took counsel on how to convince her husband she was still a virgin--with hilarious, wince-inducing results. Another woman confides that, despite her children (all daughters), "I've never seen or touched anything"--male, that is. Arranged marriages, a potion to bind a lover, cosmetic surgery, "embroidery"--by which is meant another means of "restoring" virginity--and more are revealed, assessed, and resolved, all within the context of a women-only tea-bibbing circle in which young Marji is cook (not brewer, she explains), decanter, and enthralled listener. In line with the book's aura of abandoned constraints, Satrapi dispenses with panel frames; she also elides most background detail; and those choices make the book less graphic-novelish than cartoonish a la, say, Jules Feiffer. The sparkling verbal content, however, triumphs. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Pantheon Graphic Novels
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; Reprint edition (April 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375714677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375714672
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran. She grew up in Tehran, where she studied at the French school, before leaving for Vienna and Strasbourg to study decorative arts. She currently lives in Paris, where she is at work on the sequel to Persepolis. She is also the author of several children's books.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover Verified 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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Format: Hardcover Verified 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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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".
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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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