The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty
A moving tale of exile, friendship, love and the healing power of poetry from the bestselling author of Pomegranate Soup.
Set in Buenos Aires during the Falklands War, the Margaret thatcher School of Beauty is the story of a group of displaced Iranian refugees living in a decaying Beaux Arts building in the city centre.
the inhabitants of the building form an eclectic community: a sick ex-prisoner and his daughter, a promising medical student; a timid hairdresser; a newlywed couple with a dark past; a young revolutionary; an eccentric pilgrim of Mecca; and at the heart of the group Zadi Heirati, a single mother struggling to make ends meet at the beauty salon she operates from her apartment.
Drawn together by a revolution in their homeland, they begin to find solace in weekly poetry meetings. the words they share inspire each to turn inward and discover beauty long buried. As a new war unfolds in their adopted country, this group of disenchanted individuals begins to form a family. At once familiar and extraordinary, this moving story weaves disparate lives together into a tapestry of unique grace, wit and lyricism.
'Mehran is a sensually evocative writer... a joy to read' - Sydney Morning Herald
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The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty is the third novel by Iranian-born author, Marsha Mehran. It is set in Buenos Aires in 1982, as well as earlier times in Iran. When Zadi Heirati flees Iran with her young daughter, Maryam, in tow, she has plans to search for Maryam’s father, David, in Iowa. But a visa to America is not easily procured, and she finds herself bound for Argentina. A chance encounter at Heathrow with a mink-coated Iranian woman sends her to fifth floor of The Anna Karenina building in Buenos Aires, where a group of Iranian ex-pats reside.
As Zadi and Maryam meet the other tenants, they are enveloped in Iranian culture. She opens a salon and school of beauty, and is an enthusiastic participant in the poetry evenings the Capitan organises. Gradually the lives of the tenants and their reasons for coming to the Anna Karenina are revealed. Against the backdrop of the Falklands War, the characters’ lives and loves are told, and the reader is treated to some enchanting Iranian poetry. There is a definite Maeve Binchy feel to this novel: realistic characters leading ordinary lives, yet charming the reader.
In the Afterword, Mehran’s father, Abbas Mehran discloses that there is a strong element of the author’s personal experience in this novel. A very handy glossary of Iranian words is included. Marsha Mehran’s tragic death in early 2014 means that this captivating novel is the last time the reading public will enjoy this talented author’s work.