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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines

1. Were you familiar with Iran’s political history prior to reading this book? What were you surprised to learn?

2. Shohreh speaks of having an interest in both politics and acting as a young girl. What interests from your own childhood have carried over into your adult life?

3. After rheumatic fever and eight months in the hospital, Shohreh decides she will live life fully; she realizes that “life becomes meaningful in comparison only.” (p. 29) Do you agree?

4. Had you known of SAVAK, Iran’s secret police, or SAVAMA, the Islamic Republic’s intelligence service, before reading this book? Can you imagine or do you know anyone who has lived in such a state of fear and government policing?

5. After Shohreh is accosted as a girl, her father tells her, “Success can only be achieved if you overcome fear.” (p. 34) Do you agree? Have you overcome fear in your own life in order to achieve success?

6. Before the Shah is ousted, Shohreh speaks of the economic progress, the influx of money, and the “Americanization” of Iran as a good thing. What are the pros and cons of a society becoming more developed and modernized?

7. Shohreh was raised in the privileged upper class. Do you think she would have had a different story to tell had she grown up poor? Do you think she would have made it to Hollywood?

8. As political resistance to the Shah grows and riots begin to erupt in the streets, Shohreh realizes she is not safe in Iran. How would you have reacted to the political uncertainty and the rapid shift in culture that Iran underwent?

9. Shohreh’s first husband, Aydin, tells her to go, leave Iran, and he will support her. What did you think of that? Is that love? What would you have done in the situation? Have you ever had to make a decision to leave a place you love?

10. Shohreh returns to Iran after a few months of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s rule and finds her homeland changed. Have you ever returned to a place to find it drastically changed—for the better or the worse?

11. Are you politically active? Have you campaigned for political causes or change that you believe in?

12. Shohreh seems cavalier and nonchalant about her divorce from Aydin. Were you surprised by their split?

13. When Shohreh performs the Farsi-language play Rainbow in London, she realizes the emotional impact that it has on people. Do you think art can make a difference or bring change in politics?

14. What do you make of Shohreh’s grandmother’s bedtime fable about learning a craft? (p. 157) Does it resonate with you? Can you apply it to your own life?

15. Were you surprised when Houshang proposed to Shohreh? As they fly to Vegas to get married, he tells her, “This is America, Shohreh, anything is possible.” (p. 166) Do you believe that? Do you believe in the American Dream? Do immigrants have a different perspective on what is possible as opposed to lifetime residents of the States?

16. When Shohreh is in the Amsterdam airport shooting a film, she meets a woman who is fleeing for her life from Iran. Her husband has been killed; she was smuggled into Pakistan; and she was carrying a forged passport. Shohreh makes the decision to lie to authorities and say she doesn’t know the woman’s history. Would you have done the same in this situation? Have you ever had to lie in order to do what you thought was right?

17. What do you think of Shohreh’s baby names: Tara-Jane for GONE WITH THE WIND and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE; or Rhett for Rhett Butler had it been a boy?

18. Have you seen any of Shohreh’s films or television roles? What do you think of them and of her as an actor?

The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines
by Shohreh Aghdashloo

  • Publication Date: June 4, 2013
  • Genres: Autobiography
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 006200980X
  • ISBN-13: 9780062009807