The Blood of Flowers focuses on an unnamed fifteen-year-old girl in 17th century Persia, which is now modern day Iran. Her passion is making carpets, and after her father dies, she and her mother are taken in by her carpet-maker uncle. But then she is forced into a sigheh, a three month contract of marriage, with an older man, in order to have money for her and her mother to survive.
I loved the descriptions of the fabled city of Isfahan. The author spends a lot of time describing the marketplaces and the people that the main character runs into. She writes beautiful descriptions of the food, drink, and clothing of the characters. My favorite part of this book was the carpet making. It was such an interesting process to learn about, and the author did a great job describing the carpets, which were such an important way of life in 17th century Persia.
That being said, this novel is very slow-paced. It took a couple of chapters for me to get into it, and even then, I never felt particularly connected to the main character, despite the book being in first person. The plot is very simple: girl’s father dies, girl and mother must find a way to live, girl accepts a short marriage contract for money.
Unfortunately, way too much of this book focuses on the sigheh. Every chapter focused on the main character trying to sexually please her husband. The first couple of times were necessary, in order to show how the main character has no say in society, her life, or her marriage. She only exists to please a man. And while this is important to focus on, as a historical fiction novel, the author spends an increasingly amount of time on their sex scenes.
The novel also has many tales intersected throughout. While I liked these at first, there were too many of them and they drew me out of the story.
Eventually, the novel pulls away from this and focuses on the carpet making once again. But when the novel ends, I felt like I only got a glimpse of the main character’s life after her sigheh. The novel drags on and on, and then all of a sudden the girl is nineteen, in a better place, and the book just ends.
Overall, I can see the main point the author was trying to make. Life was terrible for women in 17th century Persia. Carpet making was not for women. Girls were supposed to be forced into child marriages by the age of fifteen. The author tried to show that the main character was different: she had a voice, she got out of a marriage, and she had a talent in a man-dominated field. But she and the other characters often felt flat.
The book had a great premise, and I loved the author’s worldbuilding. But I struggled to connect with the characters and the story.
VERDICT: 2 ½ stars