Friday, March 14, 2014

My take on: Scent of Butterflies

A scorned wife flees her native Iran in favor of California and a better life. That seemed right up my alley. I got so much more when reading Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen.

I was ready to be on this woman's side. Her husband has cheated on her with her best friend. The trap was set in just a few pages. I thought, I'm supposed to like this woman. I'm supposed to root for this woman, but.........I didn't get that feeling.

At first, Soraya does seem sympathetic. Her husband, Aziz, and her best friend, Parvaneh, are supposed to be the bad guys. Parvaneh lied over and over to Soraya. She weaseled her way into Soraya's marriage. The ultimate betrayal right? What else can she do except trick her husband into letting her go to the U.S.? I say "let her go" because it seems in Soraya's culture men have A LOT of power over women. Soraya uses her passion for photography to her advantage, letting her husband believe that she's going to the U.S. on a magazine assignment. She has a gift for duplicity, keeping a BIG secret from her husband. Do two wrongs make a right? Not always. I felt like Soraya was using her husband's infidelity to justify her own actions. Soraya comes off as stubborn and self-centered. Maybe that's why I didn't like her. A little more humility and maybe I would have liked her.

Moving to California is somehow the answer for Soraya. In my eyes, she became more unlikable and WEIRD! She gets immense joy out of photographing men and butterflies. I didn't quite get the correlation, but Soraya has a passion for this type of stuff. I found it quite strange. I can understand the beauty of photographing butterflies, but finding joy out of dissecting them and preserving them in glass is just not my cup of tea. The fact that Parvaneh's name means butterfly might have something to do with Soraya's strange hobby.

The writing in this book is very poetic. Sometimes I wasn't quite sure what I was reading. Is this just about a woman rebuilding her life or is there some deeper meaning? The writer does a good job of portraying the culture of Iran. Within each chapter, Soraya reflects on her past. She remembers life before the Islamic Revolution and after. Life for women changed drastically, resulting in more restrictions. A Jewish family, like Soraya's, was further ostracized. I did feel like I was transported to Iran. That made up for the lack of sympathy I had for Soraya's character. I think I have to read this one again, maybe then I will have a deeper appreciation for it. It's worth a gander, give it a try!

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Sourcebooks) in exchange for an honest review. 

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