Persian brides: a novel
Set at the beginning of the century in the fictional Persian town of Omerijan, Persian Brides tells the story of two Jewish girls, Flora Ratoryan and her orphaned cousin Nazie. Fifteen years old, pregnant, and recently abandoned by her cloth-merchant husband, Flora longs desperately for the return of her unborn baby's father. Nazie consoles and pities her, and though she is still only a child of eleven, Nazie yearns for her own marriage to Floras brother, Moussa, to whom she was betrothed as an infant.
Although the narrative spans only a few days, it branches out and back, encompassing the lives and histories of many of the inhabitants of the almond tree alley in Omerijan where Flora and Nazie live. There is Nosrat, an unattractive woman who hides her features from her handsome husband by spreading a thin layer of goat butter over his glasses; Miriam Hanoun, Flora's mother, whose long-standing hatred of cats leads to a feline revenge; and Mamou, the local whore who, according to the neighborhood women, is carrying the child of the king of the village demons.
Rabinyan's vivid depiction of the village is a sensual feast, recreating the odors, flavors, colors, sounds, and textures of everyday life. A masterful blend of fantasy and reality, the narrative forcefully conveys shocking cruelties endured by many of the characters while at the same time weaving a modern-day Arabian legend where snakes offer jewels in exchange for milk and death is thwarted by appeasing the village demons. Written with passion and elegance, Persian Brides brings a rich array of characters to life, telling of their hardships without ever losing the magic and wonder that is so much a part of their lives.
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