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Persian Brides Hardcover – March 1, 1998

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It may be true, as Tolstoy wrote, that all happy families resemble one another, but it would be next to impossible to find a family anything like the Ratoryans, the 19th-century Jewish clan engagingly depicted in this first novel?or a writer who could conjure them up more vividly than Israeli journalist Rabinyan. The members of this passionate, superstitious family inhabit a traditional Persian village where, for women, marriage and childbirth are paramount and the news that a girl has begun menstruating is disseminated by carrier pigeon. Flora?voluptuous, adorable, foolish and very pregnant at 15?casts spells every day and sings magic songs every night until her voice grows hoarse, hoping to bring her errant husband, a wayward cloth merchant, back to her. Downstairs, her 11-year-old cousin Nazie dreams of marrying Flora's brother. Episodic but not merely pastoral, the novel tells one poignant, bewitching story after another, seducing us with vivid language and outrageous tales of deception, devotion and magic. Rabinyan crams every page with evocative details: Flora spending the three days before her wedding delousing her fiance's scalp; a woman smearing her husband's glasses with a thin layer of goat's butter to keep him from discovering her ugliness; a cloth merchant who can't fall asleep without rubbing fabric between his fingers. Rabinyan's brisk, fetching prose expertly summons a long-vanished land and renders it dazzling and delicious.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Two Jewish girls are the center of this first novel, which describes in almost magical fashion the inhabitants of a small Persian village at the beginning of the century. Fifteen-year-old Flora Ratoryan is pregnant, and her cloth-merchant husband has abandoned her. Her 11-year-old cousin, Nasie, consoles her while wishing for her own marriage to Flora's brother, Moussa, to whom she has been betrothed since birth. The story only covers a few days in the lives of these girls, but the background of the inhabitants of this almond tree alley in the fictional village of Omerijan rounds out the picture. Vivid descriptions of cruelty (Miriam Hanoun, Flora's mother, kills cats; Moussa beats Flora unmercifully because he can't stand her laughter) and sensuality mix with the descriptions of everyday life. This may be too heady a mixture for some readers, but the storytelling is superb.?Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: George Braziller; 1st edition (March 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807614300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807614303
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,495,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
At 18, Dorit Rabinyan published a her debut collection of poetry. Not long after her first play was produced. Not long after that her first film turned heads in Israel. Now, her first novel--Persian Brides--after commercial success abroad, is being published for the first time in the U.S. If the trade reviews are any indication, we're witnessing the birth of a new literary star. Set in a fictional Persian village at the turn of the century, two young women fight abandonment and longing, which somehow come to mean the same thing. Flora, 15 years old and pregnant, longs for the return of her husband. Nazie, 11 years old, yearns to be married. In telling their magical tale, Rabinyan traces the history of a country and its quirky legends. Its a masterful blend of fantasy and reality. This vivid tale has a flavor to be savored. Rabinyan will come to the U.S. for the first time this March to celebrate the American publication of Persian Brides, as well as to celebrate Israel's 50th Anniversary.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Dorit Rabinyan has given the world a masterpiece in two respects, a great story and incomperable writing. To begin with, this story is both humorous and quirky. Ms. Rabinyan is a gifted storyteller. The characters are three dimensional in every respect and the reader can identify and visualize every one of them as real, even though magic and superstition play heavily into this book. And of course the story is funny. I laughed out loud at several points at this book. My friend to whom I lent this book also laughed at the descriptions. Only one other Israeli author, the brilliant Orly Castel-Bloom, can really capture humor in the same way, though Ms. Castel-Bloom masterfully utilizes the modern and absurd to form social commentary, whereas Ms. Rabinyan tells a story straightforwardly. No matter how remarkable her ability to tell a story is, Ms. Rabinyan's most amazing achievement is her actual writing. Very rarely is the world gifted with a writer who knows exactly which words fit at the exact right time in the most perfect order. James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov and William Shakespeare are three classic examples. Their words not only perfect but transcendent. I sincerely hope that Dorit Rabinyan can attain the same kind of immortality, for she deserves it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This well written fictional story of life in Persia in the early 1900's paints a picture of the squalid life of the inhabitats of a village both gentile and jewish. There are moments of joy and of sorrow for the family that this story revolves around and all are written with great detail that transport you to that time. I enjoyed the book and subject matter, but not nearly as much as other period tales (Red Tent for example). The end of the book leaves you wanting a richer experience. It trails off quickly and the reader doesn't get a sense of closure.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JessH on July 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Persian Brides' is the first novel by Israeli-born Dorit Rabinyan. Rabinyan was only 21 at the time that she wrote the book. The novel won the 1999 JEWISH QUARTERLY Wingate Literary Award.
"Persian Brides" takes the reader to a fictional Persian village in the early 1900's. The story focuses on 15 year old Flora, her 11 year old cousin Nazie, and their family, the Hanoums. Flora, is a headstrong girl, with perhaps a bit too much vanity. She rejects many suitors that come to her family proposing marriage. Nazie, who is treated like a servant by her aunt (Flora's mother), sees all this activity and longs to be married herself. The novel is full of culture and folklore and it was very interesting to read about the traditions and rituals that the family followed. The writing was beautiful and full of great imagery. I feel that the book would have been better with a touch more character and plot development. We read this book in my book group and there were mixed feelings on it. Some people didn't like it at all due to the limited plot and others enjoyed the writing and the magical imagery. I personally, love reading about other cultures and their traditions, folklore, superstitions and beliefs, so I found that aspect of this book very satisfying. One example of an interesting tradition in Flora's village is that mothers shout from the rooftop to let the neighborhood know when their daughter has their first menstruation. Flora's mother also performs nighttime inspections of Flora to be sure that she is still `pure'. Can you imagine?! And you thought your mother was bad! The novel will make you smile at some of the other traditions and superstitions that Flora and her family live by.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on December 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This novel traces the experiences and yearnings of two Jewish Persian girls in turn of the century Iran, and as such is rich, animated, humorous, engaging and sensual.
Flora is 15 and pregnant, waiting for her worthless straying husband to return home. Nazie is eleven and longs to be married and start a family.
A masterpiece of contemporary literature in the tradition of Amy Tan and Shifra Horn. It vividly covers the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the characters and the culture of Persian Jews. Set over two days, it succeeds in backtracking to cover the experiences of more than one generation.
Richly explores the superstitions, customs and traditions of the Jews of Persia and Persia at the beginning of the Twentieth century.
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