An ambitious novel of an Iranian woman’s personal and professional struggles during a time of war and social unrest.
Powell (Two Weddings, 2011) tells the story of Roxana Ramsey, a young, highly educated Iranian woman living in New York during the start of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Although she considered herself a New Yorker, Roxana, like many other Iranian nationals visiting the United States on student visas, received a letter of deportation. She decided not to fight the order and returned to Tehran, via Paris, with her two best friends. But when the forward-thinking Roxana reached Iran, she was shocked by the transformation taking place there. With the country on the verge of returning to strict governmental rule, including the oppression of women, Roxana fought to hold onto her beliefs and her allegiance to two very different countries. Despite a slightly confusing beginning, the storyline quickly gains its footing and unfurls a captivating plot with a well-developed protagonist. Roxana’s personal, political and professional struggles are well-rendered throughout, although occasional scenes and snatches of dialogue would benefit from a bit more polish. The author attempts to pack in as much information as possible about historical events and cultural traditions, which makes the novel feel like a somewhat overwritten history lesson at times. That said, Powell does a good job of capturing the intense emotions of a very dramatic time and effectively uses the point of view of a highly intelligent woman who considered both countries her home.
An educational and enlightening, if sometimes excessively detailed, story of recent Iranian history.