Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Cypress Tree - #22

I will preface this post by saying I did check all the screws on my chair before starting.

I thought this book was a novel. It's not. It was a bit of a disappointment. Not the book as a whole. Just when you settle down to read a story and you know, you have a doona and a glass of wine and you've suspended your disbelief and are ready to be transported. Then 10 pages in you just go "Well, fuck." I don't dislike memoirs. I just prepare for them differently to novels. And as I have read a few lately I was ready for story land. While it wasn't the books fault, I felt like I had been slightly tricked into attending a function, and was then stuck up the front where it was just too awkward to leave.

Besides starting the book with the feeling that someone's great aunt has noticed my uncomfortableness and then daring me to leave with their crazy, judging, old lady eyes, it was not too bad. It was the story of the last hundred years or so of Iran through the stories of this woman and her family. She is an exile from Iran after the Islamic Revolution to the UK, and then tells the story of her family as she sort of rediscovers it,  as she shunned it as a teenager in London in the 80s.

It provided a good insight into the history of Iran. She's a journo and so it makes it an accessible read. It explains how Iran has ended up how it is. While she is not a sympathiser with the Islamic Revolution at all, she does explain sympathetically how the country ended up how it is, and points out the benefits and dichotomies of the laws and the actions of the country and especially it's people.

What astounded me was that once again the meddling West (those meddling kids) once again played god with a country that they had no claim over, but then the country decided to stand up to the two big powers in the world and say "Nope, our stuff. Give us a fair price you bastards!". And so they, the West, overthrew a government through CIA and MI6 funding. And what did that do? It gave a little known religious leader in a small town a taste of power and money and a little bit of fame. He also then got exiled himself from Iran by the reinstated Shah, growing his infamy and followers over time. This guy? Oh you know, only Ayatollah Khomeini. The guy who lead the Islamic Revolution and made the most liberal Middle Eastern country the most concerning one. Good work (morons).

The issue of women's rights was really interesting too though. Women had the same rights for divorce in Iran as the men before the Revolution. They could work, study and dress in "wonderful" 70s fashion, miniskirts and all. While it is true now they can still study and work, this was banned for a while, then reinstated and now has resulted in this bullshit.They also had the legal marrying age for women at 18. Then they all revolted and such, had to rebuild their country from scratch and engaged in a war with their neighbours (Iraq). So first thing they changed? First? Women's rights and reduced the marrying age for women to 9. I do not comprehend. I cannot fathom a world that women are so feared, so needed to be controlled. I mean, ours is still pretty bad, but what kind of man gets into power and has war, famine, no public services, and no government to deal with and goes, "You know what's wrong with this country? I can't marry a 12 year old girl." Seriously?

All of that aside, I could have strangled the author more than once when she was all blah blah this happened blah blah and then the revolution happened but my auntie such and such cooked this wonderful thing with rose petals and let me tell you about that. Really? I'm sure you family is fantastic, but you know. Revolution. Kinda trumps dinner. And she was really disjointed at the beginning. I just wanted her to stick with one family or one person instead of jumping around. And maybe it was because I had problems with the names and keeping everyone straight. But I just felt she was like a 3 year old full of red cordial until half way through.

All being said and done, 3.5. I learnt a fair bit, but also felt like I was dealing with a kid with ADD again for the first 100pp. She does calm down, and you get a better understanding of what is happening. But a lot of people wouldn't stick with her.

And now I am on to some fiction!! I think December I may get a little distracted away from my Around the World quest as I have a few other books for a couple of things calling me. But I will come back if I stray.

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