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3 1 2 starsThis story takes place in the 1620s in Isfahan, Persia Iran After her father s death, a teenage girl never named and her mother travel from their small village to Isfahan to live with a relative They are mostly treated like household slaves servants, but the girl manages to gain skills in rug design from her uncle, a prominent rugmaker I liked the story, but far too much of the book was taken up with the narrator s sigheh a temporary, renewable marriage which is essentially a form of semi respectable prostitution Specifically, too much time was spent on her developing abilities as a hot number in the bedroom, and how this affected her friendship with Naheed This excessive focus made the book feel a little like historical fiction meets chick lit The author spent nine years researching and writing the book, so I think I was frustrated, knowing it could have been so much richer I would have preferred a lotportrayal of the glories and customs of Isfahan under Shah Abbas the Great, and much less of the pettiness among the various characters That said, I did enjoy the book and would welcome another from this author I got to learn about the design and creation of elaborate Persian rugs I never knew they were made by tying thousands of little knots I still don t get exactly how it s done, and I d love to see it in action.There s an enlightening interview with the author at the back of the book She says the rugs are still hand knotted today in Iran It makes my fingers ache just thinking about it. As a contemporary piece of modern feminism, this is a terrible book Thankfully, it wasn t meant as such Rather, it s a new fairy tale, one that I felt was woven as beautifully as the rugs described therein.The reader, Shohreh Aghdashloo you know, this woman makes this story magical, wonderful, intriguing, and even sensuous probably because of her dusky voice and lovely accent but also because she does a good job subtly bringing the characters to life I highly recommend listening to thisunless you re Cecily.The author is Iranian American and she says in the interview at the end that she came to the States at a young age but that she returned to Iran to visit family when she was older This fairy tale like story, based only in the author s imagination and not on an older tale, blends Persian storytelling with American story hearing, which is to say it showcases an older culture fairly different from what we re used to but that it makes sense to the American reader because of the way it is told, with the beginning that flows to the middle that flows to the end No, not all cultures tell their stories that way but we Americans love order so that s how we structure our tales Anyway, it starts like a Disneyfied bit of the Arabian nights and then suddenly gets real and finally morphs into a by the bootstraps tale see Appeals to American sensibilities It s recognizable and relatable while still foreign.The treatment of women in this story is going to upset some readers I wasgrossed out by the old men and their young wives thing that always makes me feel a bit skeeved I kept having to remind myself A that this is a reflection of societal norms from another time in another culture B that it s a story I m supposed to listen, reflect, and learn, not judge hahahah Whatever I just said that to sound smart I judge EVERYthing ALL the time and C to just shut up and listen to this story, freakshow Stop over analyzing it and just enjoy it.And that s what I did I enjoyed it I liked how our intentionally nameless protagonist was an adored daughter, then a homeless waif, then a sex slave essentially then a homeless waif again, and all the while a blossoming rug maker I like the things she discovered about herself, about her parents, about the world I even liked being frustrated at her stupidity, at her inability to think rationally, at her being portrayed as passionate base bull headed If that sounds boring then might I recommend this to anyone interested in textiles, Persian rugs, especially I suspect such readers will enjoy the descriptions of rug making that weave yes, I totally did that throughout the tale Anyone who likes storytelling within stories will enjoy this well, probably.I think the content would have been better described had the title been The Girl Who Made A LOT Of Really Poor Decisions and Almost Didn t Learn Anything Until It Was Too Late, though, honestly, I am kind of surprised it wasn t called First There Wasn t and Then There Was though I guess anything with the word blood in the title is going to benoticeable.Ok Now I m going to be an ass.I kept wanting this guy to show up and sweep nameless rug maker off her feet so she could marry him and tell us how great he was at sex Because I would totally be part of that dude s harem. The story was interesting, but I was disappointed overall I had high expectations of language and wordplay, and it really felt like a highly sexed YA style little sophistication The protagonist annoyed the crap out of me, and thus made it hard for me to feel any sympathy for her plight The information about the making of rugs was great, though, and reading about the colors and knots almost makes this a three starred books My favorite parts of the books were the fairy tales interjected, and almost redeemed the writing style for me, but then at the end it turns out that they re actual folklore passed down, not the author s own words I wish I hadn t anticipated this so much because it was a bit of a let down. This is my second novel about Iran , the first was Samarkand , both are historical , but while Samarkand took political ideological path , this one dealt with one of the Persian art formats and the cultural and social conditions that surrounded its uniqueness and perfection.and in the same time with a feminine feelings and sprit In few words the blood of flowers is the complicated and passionate journey of a fiery talented female carpet designer towards maturity and professionalism When I talk about it I need three different axes The rug craft The details caught by artistic bright eyes that became mine the verbal camera that caught nature beauty and urban distinguish , the concepts life s hardness transformations into touchable and live pieces of art , all of this were amazingly handled true you will never look at a Persian carpet with the same eyes after reading this book The heroine s life it presented a full detailed of the social and cultural Iranian life in the seventieth century , specially some the Shia s traditions and ceremonies , focusing mainly on females position it was my first time to read in details about Sigheh or what we know in Arabic as pleasure marriage and it is forbidden for sunni so I do not know much about, also I am not sure if all Shia approve it , this marriage is nothing but a sexual relationship, where a woman is a trapped in weird position among wife..mistress and prostitute trying to hold on to a man that she will never really possess and a dignity that she may never restore this part was portrayed in a very touching way , even the direct graphical sexual descriptions which werethan what I expected functioned with the nature of the heroine s miserable situation and through this axis it is the author s target discussing feminism..freedom and independency , the concept here was very strong presented and may be that what made the ending somehow left open the folk or fairy tales Each chapter ended with a one , trying to tie the characters lives destines to heritage and Persian historical magical context , some were regionally rooted like Haroot and Maroot , some historically like Laila s mad , and some legendry , they fit in some parts and did not in others , but in general it was a clever enhancing method for the environment the author tried to materialize A final quote that presented the title by the heroineI thought about all the labor and suffering that were hidden beneath a carpet , starting with the materials vast fields of flowers had to be murdered for their dye , innocent worms boiled alive for their silk and what about the knitters must we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of rugs This novel is from the kind that I could not put down until finishing it Anita Amirrezvani s The Blood of Flowers is a skillfully crafted coming of age story of a young girl in seventeenth century Persia To adhere to a feature of traditional folk tales, the girl remains nameless She lives in a small village with her parents, surrounded by friends and neighbors Her happy existence comes to a screeching halt at the sudden death of her father, leaving her and her mother destitute They seek help from their only living relative, her father s half brother who lives in the bustling city of Isfahan They move into his home where both mother and daughter are treated as servants by her uncle s wife.Fortunately for the girl, her uncle is an accomplished rug maker for the Shah Since she has harbored an enduring passion for designing and making rugs, she becomes her uncle s assistant, developing her skills, and eventually succeeding in designing and making her own sought after rugs Without a dowry, however, her options as a woman are severely restricted Pressured by her family, she agrees to a sigheh, a pseudo marriage renewable every three months This practice is nothingthan glorified prostitution under the veneer of a temporary marriage It exploits poor, vulnerable women, denying them the rights of a real marriage, and leaving them completely at the whim of their wealthy benefactor When the girl refuses to renew the sigheh contract, she and her mother are thrown out into the streets to fend for themselves Destitute, the girl is forced to beg Eventually she is able to her expertise in rug making to lift them out of poverty Amirrezvani has produced a gripping tale that transports the reader to seventeenth century Persia She spent several years researching material for the novel and succeeds in vividly evoking the fabric of life in Isfahan the bazaars, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the food, the clothing, the colors, the gender stratification and exploitation of women She peppers her narrative with short folk tales, some of which are traditional and some of which she fabricates.A major strength of the novel lies in the detailed description of the process of rug making The vibrant colors and dyes the intricate detail of each design the work of translating the design on paper into a rug the painstaking work of generating small, tightly bound knots to make the desired images and patterns and the skilled artistry and craftsmanship involved in each step lead up to a breathtaking finished product that earns enthusiastic accolades from all who see it.The only criticism of the novel lies in the unnecessarily graphic and lurid details of the sex acts the girl performs with her benefactor to live up to the obligations of the sigheh contract Although her initial desire to sustain her benefactor s interest is understandable, the extensive description of her sexual prowess in the bedroom does little to enhance the story But in an interesting twist, the girl ultimately benefits from her disadvantaged position as a woman in her culture The circumstances that led her to agree to the sigheh are the very same circumstances that help her transform her life She capitalizes on being a female to gain access to the Shah s harem where only women are allowed, using this privileged access to her advantage by befriending the women who then commission her to make their rugs As a result, she becomes an independent, strong, empowered, and confident business owner who is finally in control of her own destiny.Its immersive nature in depicting seventeenth century Persia makes this a highly recommended novel for lovers of historical fiction. 3.5 stars The Blood of flowers is a historical fiction novel and a love story, which is set in 17th century Iran As a lover of historical fiction I was really looking forward to this novel.The Blood of Flowers is a really enjoyable novel about a young woman and only child whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life This novel details Persian rug making, and brings to life the sights sounds and life of 17th century Isfahan This is a powerful and haunting story about a 14 year old girls journey from her carefree childhood into adulthood and a great insight into a world unknown to most of us.I really enjoy novels that depict different cultures and customs and really found this novel interesting especially the way in which the people lived and the scenery of this country which was very well described in the novel The author spent nine years researching and writing this book and when reading the novel you certainly appreciate the time and effort that went into this book as the author not only tells a story she educates the reader along the way.I really enjoyed the characters and this novel has a wonderful sense of time and place which is so important to me when reading historical fiction novels.I probably would have given this book 4 stars but I found the fairytale stories within the story quite tedious and while a couple seemed to fit with the plot other just seemed pointless and for me took away from the overall enjoyment of the novel.Having said that this is a very enjoyable and interesting read and one I will recommend to friends I also think this would make a great book club read as there are lots of topics for discussion. .FREE ⚇ The Blood of Flowers ☫ In The Fabled City Of Isfahan, In Seventeenth Century Persia, A Young Woman Confronts A Dismal Fate Her Beloved Father Had Died And Left Her Without A Dowry Forced To Work As A Servant In The Home Of Her Uncle, A Rich Rug Designer In The Court Of The Shah, The Young Woman Blossoms As A Brilliant Designer Of Carpets But While Her Talent Flourishes, Her Prospects For A Happy Marriage Grow Dim, And She Finds Herself Faced With A Daunting Decision To Forsake Her Own Dignity Or To Risk Everything In An Effort To Maintain ItBoth A Sweeping Love Story And A Luminous Portrait Of A City, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS Is The Mesmerizing Historical Novel Of An Ill Fated Young Woman Whose Gift As A Rug Designer Transforms Her Life Illuminated With Glorious Detail Of Persian Rug Making, And Brilliantly Bringing To Life The Sights Sounds And Life Of Th Century Isfahan, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS Has Captured Readers Imaginations Everywhere As A Timeless Tale Of One Woman S Struggle To Live A Life Of Her Choosing This novel provides a fascinating look into the culture of 17th century Persia, especially from the perspective of women of all social classes Particularly fascinating was the detailed look at the art of rugmaking and the traditional folk stories told by the narrator and the narrator s mother I also liked that the narrator was headstrong and willful, but in a realistic way that often ended in tragedy for her Such a narrator made the story accessible for both a modern and a Western audience as it made me realize how brash American thinking and actions can have implications one can not predict nor even imagine when interacting with another society particularly those in the Middle East While the story seems to often be headed in the traditional happily ever after direction, it doesn t a few plot lines that I thought were going to be trite and predictable actually surprised me by not ending up where I thought they would trying not to give away any spoilers here, but suffice it to say that I found the ending to be very appropriate. Anita Amirrezvani has in this novel of historical fiction told of life during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great of Persia It is thoroughly engaging It accomplishes what the best historical fiction can do enveloping the readers in a foreign time and place, teaching about a culture, not just the dry facts, but rather how life would be there and then You forget you are leaning and instead absorb the culture through the lives of people you encounter in the story Shah Abbas reign from 1571 1629 promoted Iranian culture and the arts, including the famed Isfahan carpets Carpet making and the lives of the people who made these carpets is the central theme of the book What was it like to be a carpet maker at those times, in the 1600s in Persia How were they made, what designs were used, what dyes were available Who did what Who bought the rugs, who sold the rugs And the questions diversify What were the bazaars like How did the people live Where did they bathe Did they bathe I would love to go to a hammam What foods did they eat What herbal remedies were chosen What mystical customs were believed in What were the beliefs of the common people The comet that crossed the sky, what did that portend And how did men and women relate to each other I learned a lot and it all sunk in without an effort All of these questions are answered And as befits a novel about art, and making rugs is an art, the language was vivid and colorful, as vivid as the rugs themselves.For centuries there has existed the Iranian practice of sigheh This is a legal marriage contract for a specified time period It was used when the woman s family had no money for a dowry In therespected marriage contracts the family of the woman would pay a large sum of money to the man s family, a dowry In the sigheh contract the man s family pays the money to the woman s family and the man thereby has conjugal rights for a specific time period Thus the contract was temporary, although it could be renewed Why would a woman do this She loses her virginity, and once lost it can never be bought back Her value is gone Some women were forced into this by their parents Some women hoped they would become pregnant, and maybe a permanent marriage contract would follow Sigheh is a central theme of this novel, and you will understand what it really was like to live under such a contract.Poems and tales are a central part of Persian culture The author interweaves known Persian fables seamlessly into the story The wonderful author s note at the end of the book explains the source of these fables Two of them are her own, but they are indistinguishable from the original tales I loved all of them.I never wanted to stop reading The plot line drew my attention and kept me turning the pages It was neither predictable nor unbelievable Both the fables and the prime protagonist s character traits made me believe in the ending The ending worked for me I cannot explainwithout giving spoilers view spoiler OK, maybe it is a bit of a fairy tale, but sometimes people are lucky It could have turned out this way, with a little bit of luck Given all the misfortune, I want a book with a little bit of happiness too No, it was not unbelievable at all Fables are both a central part of the book and the Iranian culture and so the ending worked too More I will not say You must read the book to understand completely hide spoiler I thought about all the labour and suffering hidden beneath a carpet All our labours were in the service of beauty, but sometimes it seemed as if every thread in a carpet had been dipped in the blood of flowersThe Blood of Flowers is a carefully crafted historical novel set in the 17th century Iran during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great This is historical fiction at its best, thoroughly absorbing the reader in another time and place and introducing them to past cultures and ways of life The effort the author put into researching this time period is clear she mentions in the author s note interview at the end of the book that she spent 9 years researching for this novel and the result allows the reader to fully experience the rich colours, sounds, smells, views and tastes of Iran at this time I was captivated by the beautiful descriptions of Isfahan, the city s sights, the work of the carpet makers and other craftsman, the food, the folklore It was a wonderful experience in which I really felt that I had been transported to this time and place.The novel is a beautiful coming of age story of a young girl who has a gift for traditional carpet craft as she moves, due to some rather tragic events, from the familiarity of her carefree childhood home in a small village to the world of the unknown in the big city I loved that the protagonist is determined and passionate, but clearly very young and immature, which means that she fails to think things through properly before making some very poor decisions The book clearly shows how difficult the position of women at this time was, by the fact that the decisions of a girl this young can have such harsh consequences for both her and her family The urge to shake some sense into her was so strong, but only because she was such a realistic, sympathetic and likeable character, and her bad decisions were very believable due to her inexperience and rashness I really cared for her as a character, so this part of the novel was particularly strong By the end of the novel, the reader has observed as the protagonist matures and grows in many different ways, and despite being a dark and difficult book at times, I also felt this made the novel beautifully uplifting and hopeful.As I said, there are parts of the novel that are very dark One of the important lessons that the protagonist learns is that life is very often unfair, especially for a woman For some reason, I ve read a lot of very depressing books recently, but although there is a lot of pain, suffering and cruelty covered in this novel, Amirrezvani demonstrates that usually life is a mix of the good and the bad Some reviewers have said parts of the book were a little bit fairy tale , but I don t think so at least not in the sense that the events are unrealistic I d like to believe that there is a lot of good in the world, along with the bad, and I was glad to read a book that reflects that.That said, fables or fairy tales play an important role in Persian heritage and culture, and, therefore, Amirrezvani decided to include several adapted folk tales, scattered throughout the novel, which complimented the events of the main narrative These tales were excellent and I appreciated them as another fascinating insight into the culture As Amirrezvani explains in her brilliant author s note at the end of the book, she took further inspiration from Persian folk tales when structuring the main narrative and in the fact that the protagonist is left unnamed, which is a traditional feature of folk tales.My only complaint is that a large part of the novel is taken up by the protagonist s involvement in the Iranin practise of a sigheh, basically a tempory marriage contract, usaully for the sexual pleasure of the man The practise itself was interesting, especially in terms of its impact on the woman s position in society, but it did mean that there were a number of sex scenes in this part of the novel, where the protagonist increasingly grows in confidence in the bedroom Personally, I usually find reading about sex rather dull, so these parts of the novel dragged a little for me and I don t think it was necessary for this part of the novel to be so drawn out However, I didn t think this reason enough to drop a star from my rating, as the sex scenes weren t painfully bad, as they can be in some books, and I understood their purpose in the overall narrative and in discussing issues around women s independence.In conclusion, I hope I ve done this novel justice in this review and managed to the outline the reasons why this novel worked so well for me personally I highly recommend it both to lovers of historical fiction and those interested in reading about a strong young woman In the future, I d love to readbooks about the reign of Shah Abbas, which seems to be a fascinating period of history, as I ve learnt both by reading this novel and wonderful author s note interview at the end Thank you, Anita Amirrezvani, for your effort in crafting such a beautiful book.