Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Scent of Butterflies

Scent of ButterfliesAuthor: Dora Levy Mossanen
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebook Landmark

A novel singed by the flavors of Tehran, imbued with the Iranian roots of Persepolis and the culture clash of Rooftops of Tehran, this is a striking, nuanced story of a woman caught between two worlds, from the bestselling author of Harem, Courtesan, and The Last Romanov.

A Love So Deep Can Forever Scar the Soul

Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.

Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.

Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.

I carry alien genes – green eyes, blond hair, fair skin, and a height of five feet, nine inches, which intimidates and offends Iranians. Such audacity, they murmur among themselves, to step beyond the permitted boundaries of our women. Boundaries drawn by men, I should add, who masculinity depends on the diamond-studded leash they’ve wrapped twice around their women’s ankles.

I am a photographer. A collector of exotic animals. A nurturer of rare plants.

I’m on Air France, destined for Los Angeles. Fleeing Aziz, my husband of twenty years, the man I married when I was fifteen. The only lover I’ve ever known. He believes that I will return to him. I will not. Why? Because I can’t resist his drunken eyes, velvet words, and persuasive hands that know where to press softly and where to stroke hard, where to linger and where to slither away, where to cup and hold and warm.

In Tehran, in place of the chador, I wore the dark, opaque stockings and roopoosh over dresses of the latest fashion purchased on trips to Europe. A scarf would cover my hair, and my face would have no makeup. But as soon as the chauffeur dropped me off at a friend or relative’s house for our evening get-together, I’d remove my roopoosh and head cover and join other women in the makeup vestibule.

This book is a lot heavier and more heart-clenching than I was expecting at first. The language is very heavy and the writing is very eloquent. I love reading about other cultures and finding out what certain areas of the world are like other than our own. Soraya is a Jewish woman from Iran, and from the very start of this book we see how she feels about her “backward” country and the way that women are treated. Soraya is on a plane heading for America when we first meet her and we find out that she has left behind the culture she doesn’t not agree with and the husband she has been married to for most of her life. Readers will later be able to connect all the pieces of Soraya’s life and share in her heartbreak.

The writing and the language in this book was one its best selling points. I, of course being an English major, love the sometimes wordy nature of people who loves books and reading just as much as me. This book was beautifully detailed and Soraya’s point of view read with such ease and fluidity. Mossanen, the author, shifts from present to flashbacks nicely, and believe me I have read authors that have a difficult time doing this successfully.

My only complaint with this book is that sometimes I found myself having strong feelings of dislike towards Soraya. Then there were other times where she had flashbacks and I could understand the reasons for her broken heart. There were times when I questioned her intentions and her actions, but then she would do something so totally redeeming. I would definitely say that Soraya and I had a love/hate relationship. Listening to her speak about the Iranian culture was one of the most fascinating parts for me because I actually felt like I was talking to a real person for a moment in time.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for my honest review***

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