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The Blood of Flowers: A Novel Paperback – May 2, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Iranian-American Amirrezvani's lushly orchestrated debut, a comet signals misfortune to the remote 17th-century Persian village where the nameless narrator lives modestly but happily with her parents, both of whom expect to see the 14-year-old married within the year. Her fascination with rug making is a pastime they indulge only for the interim, but her father's untimely death prompts the girl to travel with her mother to the city of Isfahan, where the two live as servants in the opulent home of an uncle—a wealthy rug maker to the Shah. The only marriage proposal now in the offing is a three-month renewable contract with the son of a horse trader. Teetering on poverty and shame, the girl weaves fantasies for her temporary husband's pleasure and exchanges tales with her beleaguered mother until, having mastered the art of making and selling carpets under her uncle's tutelage, she undertakes to free her mother and herself. With journalistic clarity, Amirrezvani describes how to make a carpet knot by knot, and then sell it negotiation by negotiation, guiding readers through workshops and bazaars. Sumptuous imagery and a modern sensibility (despite a preponderance of flowery language and schematic female bonding and male bullying) make this a winning debut. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This is the tale of a 17th-century Persian village girl who makes her way with her mother to a rich uncle's house in the city of Isfahan. As poor relatives, they are treated as servants. The uncle, a master rug maker for the shah, grudgingly teaches her his trade, his love and respect for her increasing with her perseverance and obvious talent. His greedy wife convinces him to accept a three-month "marriage" contract for the girl with a rich horse trader. She learns how to please her "husband" (and herself) sexually, but also learns that he has no intention of making her his permanent wife as she has no money. She vows to make beautiful rugs on her own, and thus ensure her and her mother's financial security. She is banished from her uncle's house when she tells her friend about the marriage contract. She trusts a foreign merchant with her rug and he steals it. Now she must beg and find shelter and a way to begin a new rug. Like Sheherazade, the heroine's mother is a master storyteller, telling tales within this tale that Amirrezvani tells so magically. Readers will not be able to put this book down, from the once-upon-a-time beginning to the well-crafted end.—Ellen Bell, Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (May 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316065773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316065771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anita Amirrezvani is the author of the novels Equal of the Sun (June, 2012) and The Blood of Flowers (2007). The Historical Novel Society has called Equal of the Sun "a fine political novel, full of rich detail and intrigue, but ... also a thought-provoking study of the intersection between gender and power." USA Today has described The Blood of Flowers as "filled with intricate designs, vivid colors, and sparkling gems;" it has appeared in more than 25 languages and was long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction. Anita is currently an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco and at Sonoma State University. More information is available at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Anita Amirrezvani has provided us with a superb effort in her very first novel, The Blood of Flowers. In fact, The Blood of Flowers is one of the best books that I've read this year.

The Blood of Flowers is seen through the eyes of a 14 year old village girl who lives in 17th Century Persia. This young girl (who remains nameless throughout) is looking forward to becoming engaged before the end of the year. She is also a talented but amateur carpet maker. A comet proves to be a bad omen and the young girl's fortunes soon change for the worst. When her father dies suddenly, she and her mother are forced to travel to Isfahan to live with her father's half-brother, Gostaham. Arriving in this bustling city, they are no more than peasants and their uncle's wife, Gordiyeh, treats them not much better than servants. The one bright spot in the young girl's life is that Gostaham is a carpet maker for the shah, and she is thrilled to have a mentor to teach her the finer aspects of this art form. Gostaham has never seen a person with her passion, himself excepted. His only regret is that she is not a boy.

Conflicts arise with the young girl, her mother and Gordiyeh, and their future in tenuous. Only a suitable marriage can guarantee their future security. Unfortunately, the only option presented to the young girl has the potential to be lucrative but unsuitable. She and her mother are forced to make a difficult choice.

The Blood of Flowers is a story of love, loss, learning and sacrifice. The young girl often makes rash, immature decisions and takes extreme risks--something unusual in a Muslim girl in 17th Century Persia. Some of these risks pay dividends, while others bring great misery.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By MLRapp on October 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a lover of historical fiction, I was eager to read this book; the topic sounded interesting and different, and I'm always curious to read stories about women in other civilivations. While I was not disappointed at all, and really enjoyed the novel, there were two things that bothered me about the book (dont worry, I won't give anything away), which prevented me from giving it a higher rating. First, throughout the novel there are small vignettes in which the narrator disgresses and a short story/tale is told. While the author's intention is clear - in each instance, the vignette is conveyed to shed additional insight into a character or situation, I felt these digressions from the plot did absolutely nothing to enhance the story and rather were a huge distraction which broke the continuity of the writing. I think the author's main storyline/plot was so well-written, that she simply didn't need to include the vignettes to help tell her tale. Second, I though the ending was rushed and wished it would have been drawn-out more. I was so captivated and immersed in the story and the lives of the narrator and those around her, that I didnt want it to be wrapped up in such an abbreviated manner. I felt the vast majority of the book was perfectly paced, yet the last forty pages or so rushed through too much time in order to finish the story. I just wish it had gone on longer, as I was eager to read more.

Overall, I thought it was a very good book and well-written. I found the time/place/culture so interesting to learn about, and it is obvious a tremendous amount of research went into creating this novel. I would defintiely recommend it to others, especially those who enjoy historical fiction, and look forward to hopefully reading more by this author!
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Set in 17th century Persia, it is significant that the protagonist in this thought-provoking novel remains unnamed, indeed a hostage to her fate. Although her family is not wealthy, the girl is valued beyond measure by her family, an only child. Suddenly an inauspicious comet sends the village into paroxysms of dread as the mullah announces potential lapses in moral behavior: "On the topic of marriages, those contracted later this year will be full of passion and strife." Of marriageable age at fourteen, the girl is anxious about her future, eventually soothed by her father's promises. But the happy family is sundered by the unexpected death of the father, widow and child barely eking out sustenance in the village until they are accepted into the household of Gostaham, their only living relative in Isfahan.

Gostaham is a master of the ancient art of carpet making, one of a skilled few favored by the shah. Gostaham has made a fortune with his extraordinary designs and myriad colors, delighted to find that his new young charge is adept at the art of carpet making as well. He explains the philosophy of artisans such as himself: "our response to cruelty, suffering and sorrow is to remind the world of the face of beauty." Although mother and daughter are subject to the harsh restrictions of Gostaham's wife's household demands, the man agrees to train the girl. Watching his student bloom under his tutelage, the master is thrilled, wishing she were a male to carry on his line. Although she acquires one close friend, the beautiful Naheed, the girl is consumed by a love of her art, an avid student, soaking up instruction like a thirsty sponge, eager for more. Her work is indeed valuable and gratifying.

With no prospects and no dowry, the girl's only value is her virtue.
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