The Girl from the Garden

Parnaz Foroutan. Ecco, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-238838-4
Foroutan's richly layered debut explores the dark political maneuverings inside a single household in a Jewish enclave in Iran. When Rakhel marries Asher Malacouti, the most prosperous Jewish businessman in the town of Kermanshah, it seems like an ideal match. Asher is consumed with the need to have a male child to inherit the business, and Rakhel is desperate to conceive, but she appears to be barren—a fact that becomes even more wrenching when her sister-in-law has little trouble getting pregnant. After several years, Asher takes the radical step of taking a second wife: his cousin's disgraced ex-wife, Kokab, whom he has lusted after for years. Rakhel resorts first to subtle manipulation and then to more drastic measures in order to retain her husband's attentions and keep her place in the household secure. Eventually, during the Iranian Revolution, she leaves for America. In present-day southern California, Rakhel's niece, Mahboubeh, now an old woman, attempts to find common ground with the bitter old woman she remembers from childhood. The framework of flashbacks within flashbacks (present-day Mahboubeh, Mahboubeh as a young girl, Rakhel as a young woman) can be difficult to navigate, but Rakhel's slow descent into darkness exhilaratingly propels the plot, and Foroutan's sumptuous prose paints a vivid portrait of a rarely explored historical and cultural setting. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/13/2015
Release date: 08/18/2015
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-06-244286-4
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-238840-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-241783-1
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-06-241801-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-0461-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-2553-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-2552-4
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-06-238839-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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