The Blood of Flowers
by Anita Amirrezvani
Little, Brown and Company
In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.
Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.
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1. What is the significance of the novelís
title? What does it mean in
terms of both the narrator and the story itself?
2. How would you describe the authorís
writing style, and what do
you think this style brings to the novel? Did you find anything
striking or unusual about the way the story unfolds? Did it remind you of anything you have read before?
3. How much did you know about Iranian history and culture before reading this book? Did anything in the story strike you as
completely unlike - or surprisingly reminiscent of - our lives
today? What do you think you gain from reading a novel about a
period in history, as opposed to a nonfiction historical account?
4. The author decided to leave the narrator anonymous, as is the
tradition in many folktales. When, if ever, did you realize that
know the narratorís name? What effect did the anonymity have on you as a reader? Does it matter whether or not
we know a characterís name?
5. Why do you think the author chose to include a number of Iranian tales throughout the novel? What did these stories add to
your understanding of the book and of Iranian culture as a whole?
Do you have a favorite story?
6. Though The Blood of Flowers is set in a time and place that may be
very foreign to most readers, it is a universal story about a girl
reclaiming her life and coming into her own. In what ways is this
a familiar story? In what ways does this story differ from your
own experience or from other coming-of-age novels you have
7. The Blood of Flowers explores many different relationships in the
narratorís life ó with her mother, her father, her uncle, her
friend, and her husband, to name a few ó all bringing out different sides of the narrator. Which relationship did you find the
most compelling? Which did you find the most perplexing?
8. What is the meaning of the final tale, and why do you think the
author chose to end the novel with this one? Is this the future
you see for the narrator?
9. The intricate art of rugmaking is incredibly important to the
story, and to the narrator herself. What do you think rugmaking
represents with regard to the narrator aside from monetary benefit? What does it represent in the story itself?
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"It's clear that THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS isn't just any novel.... Luxuriant language weaves together characters that who are genuine and robust, equally flawed and sympathetic, as if they really exist outside the page…. THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS is simply a stunning debut."
San Francisco Chronicle
"A novel that breaks new literary ground... a mosaic of threads stitched and woven together so finely that the reader cannot help becoming transfixed!"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Stirring and surprisingly erotic… The main character is as complex and interesting as the patterns she weaves."
"This story of one woman’s struggle to establish her own life in 17th-century Iran is as complex, intricate, and beautiful as the exquisite rugs she designs. Setting her story against the background of the dynamic city of Isfahan, Anita Amirrezvani has written a novel with a great stylistic touch that is so lush and magical in its plot and telling, it will conjure images of Scheherazade."
Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books (Ann Arbor, MI)
"Airplane read: a book compelling enough to make you miss take-off, and leave you surprised when you land on the runway. The Blood of Flowers is a guaranteed airplane read. Even if you’re not going anywhere!"
Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books (Wichita, KS)