A Bitter Veil
After moving in together, Nouri and Anna planned a life in Nouri’s native Iran, never imagining how circumstances there were about to change into violent dissent. The two find the tumultuous times dividing them and even endangering them in this thoughtful, provocative novel by award-winning author Libby Fischer Hellmann.
During summer break, Nouri becomes involved in the political turmoil of Iran and the swelling of protest against the Shah. Anna attends a demonstration with him upon returning to school; both have their faces covered so that the people in Iran will not know that Nouri is involved.
Those problems seem far away to the couple, however, and they become engaged.
"Readers will be drawn in through the well-researched inside look at Iran in the late 1970s and gain perspective on what the people in that time and place endured. A BITTER VEIL is so thought-provoking that it especially would be a great title for book clubs to discuss."
Anna had never been very close to her parents; her father has a difficult past, and her mother has lived in Paris for many years. She is surprised when her father asks her and Nouri to marry in a brief civil ceremony in the United States. They acquiesce and resume plans for their more elaborate ceremony to be held in Iran.
After not experiencing familal closeness, Anna is delighted with Nouri’s loving, welcoming parents and younger sister Laleh. The family is wealthy and powerful, and has purchased a home for the young couple. Life in Tehran feels strange to Anna, not just because of the culture but because of the lifestyle her in-laws help them establish. She would be much more comfortable working. So while Nouri gets a job with transportation, Anna teaches English at the Iran–American society.
Things begin to change rapidly, and eventually riots break out in Tehran. The Shah is overthrown, and the Islamic Republic rises up while the country tries to settle under the changing rules of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Soon Anna finds that women prefer to be covered with a hijab and adopt strict behavior codes. When his father is arrested, Nouri changes before her. He becomes a stranger full of anger and mysterious meetings. Anna no longer has a passport, and her rights are all her husband’s --- except she discovers that her marriage in the United States first may begin to help her. Tensions mount inside and outside of their home and reach a breaking point. When tragedy strikes, Anna is imprisoned and finds hope and allies in surprising places.
Libby Fischer Hellmann was previously known as a thriller writer, and her pacing and plot twists bring this fascinating story even more depth. Readers will be drawn in through the well-researched inside look at Iran in the late 1970s and gain perspective on what the people in that time and place endured. A BITTER VEIL is so thought-provoking that it especially would be a great title for book clubs to discuss.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on April 19, 2012