Embroideries Book Review – a perfect read with a tea in hand

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi – A humorous book about the lives of women in Iran

It is the early 1990s in a house in Tehran. This is where Marjane Satrapi, author of the well-known Persepolis cartoon has set her second book. The scene is a lunch party with men and women. The man of the house compliments his wife on the food spread and he and the other men retreat to taking a nap in the other room. And so it begins – the ladies talk.

Marjane plays herself again, unforgettable with those dark eyes and blank face. She sets up the samovar for tea, while the other women finish the washing-up. Once the tea is served, gossip pours. Marjane’s mother and friends have stories to tell, from tales of their friends love lives to advice about life after marriage. The stories vary. They are charming and if you have read Persepolis, you are happy to read Marjane’s grandmother’s snappy one-liners and intriguing words of wisdom again.

Unlike Persepolis, Embroideries is more focused on Tehrani’s love lives, rather than the politics and history of Iran. And so, the stories can be graphic. Satrapi is daring and covers controversial terrain here. With the characters in the book and the perfect blend of words and imagery, you do feel like you are there with the women. You are sat drinking tea, complaining about men and having a natter about so and so.

Embroderies is not a continuation of Persepolis at all. It is a story within its own right and an easy and shorter read than Satrapi’s first novel. It is however set in the same society. A society with certain limits outdoors in the public eye, but behind closed doors, women have their own lives going on with no restrictions whatsoever. The women are funny, think for themselves and are wild. They just like a good old chatter, like women anywhere in the world. All of this with a cup of tea in their hand.

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