Set in seventeenth-century Iran, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS is the powerful and haunting story of a young girl’s journey from innocence to adulthood. The novel begins in the 1620s in a remote village where the narrator (whose name, in the Iranian storytelling tradition, we are never to know) lives with her mother and rug-maker father. On the sudden death of her father our heroine and her mother fall upon hard times and are forced to travel to the bustling, beautiful, exotic city of Isfahan where relatives take them in.
Everything is new: the grudging charity of her aunt, the encouragement of her uncle, one of the finest carpet-makers in the world, who begins to teach her his craft, the treacherous friendship of the daughter of rich neighbours. And there’s an adventure ahead which will introduce her to the sensual side of life as well as to the cruelty of betrayal and rejection before she finds her way to contentment and possibly, even, to happiness, in a world full of contrasts and dangers.
I had no idea what to expect from this, and I discovered a beautifully written, insightful book. It’s set in pre-modern Iran, in a time when art was encouraged, and carpet making was an important skill. In a world where men and women had their own place, one girl finds the courage to make her own decisions.. although these are often with disastrous results.
The descriptions of the village and the city pull you into the story, and the characters keep you there. The setting may be unusual, but the themes are universal.. the ups and downs of friendship, the love of family, the various relationships between man and woman.
The narrator is unnamed, which is the author’s way of acknowledging anonymous artists from the time. However, this in no way distracts from the story, and in fact, it was something I hadn’t even realised until I read other reviews.
Despite the journeys that she takes, and the hardships she endures, there is a gentleness running through this book. The author was born in Iran, and her book is well researched.