The Blood of Flowers follows a 14 year old girl who comes from a poor village in 17th century Iran. The narrator (whose name is never mentioned), shows great skill in the art of carpet weaving and hopes to weave a rug to sell so she can someday realize her dream of marrying and starting a family. Without some kind of dowry she has little hope of ever marrying. When tragedy strikes and her beloved father dies, the girl and her mother are taken in by her uncle in the city of beautiful city of Isfahan. Things are not as they hoped when they arrive in Isfahan. Instead of honored family members they are treated as servants and are subject to the whims her impossible to please Aunt. Her uncle, who is the master carpet maker to the village Shah and his harem, recognizes great potential in the young girl and agrees to teach her all he knows about carpet making. Despite their reduced circumstances, she still retains hope of one day marrying. Things do not go as planned and it seems she will never please her uncle and his wife and achieve her dream.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit despite the fact that this is another historical set in a place and time where women are not valued at all. Our young girl is constantly discouraged from pursuing her love of weaving beautiful carpets because she is female. Her uncle only indulges her because he recognizes she has immense talent and he has no son to pass his craft on to. He often laments throughout the book “If you had only been born a boy!” I loved learning about the art of making carpets-the size of the knots, the color schemes and the importance of choosing a pleasing design. It is clear how much she loves creating these carpets and not just because creating a beautiful one to sell is her only chance of having a dowry big enough to possibly marry.
The look at life in an Iranian city during this time was also quite fascinating. Women were not allowed to go out alone and the only women who were really given any leeway at all were the ones in the Shah’s harem-especially the favorite. There is a lot of heartbreak here as well. The girl’s Aunt sees her and her mother as just two more mouths to feed and it seems no matter what they do it isn’t right. Her Aunt is determined to thwart her efforts at every turn. She even goads her into making a rather shocking arrangement for the financial benefit of the family. I was really rooting for things to come out alright for the narrator.
There is a “love” triangle and quite a lot of sex in this book as well, although none of it is really graphic or offensive really. Admittedly, I was a wee bit bothered by the idea that despite her huge talent with carpet making, apparently her only worth to her Uncle’s greedy family is how much she can do for a rich man in the bedroom. I have a confession to make though. I guess it is a pretty good book when I read the whole thing and never realized until I started perusing other reviews of this book that the narrator was given no name. I was engrossed enough to not even notice! Choosing to not name her does strike me as a little odd as I can’t see a reason for it but the author choosing to do so didn’t really diminish the book in any way. The author also includes folk tales that correspond with events going on in the story. This is the only thing I really didn't like because it pulled me out of the main story and made me lose focus. Despite this happening, I sped right through it and recommend it to anyone interested in historicals set in the Middle East.
I borrowed this book from the library