Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy MossanenPublished: January 7, 2014Publisher: SourcebooksPages: 282Received: for honest review via publisher and TLC Book ToursA novel singed by the flavors of Tehran, imbued with the Iranian roots of Persepolis and the culture clash of Rooftops of Tehran, this is a striking, nuanced story of a woman caught between two worlds, from the bestselling author of Harem, Courtesan, and The Last Romanov.
A Love So Deep Can Forever Scar the Soul
Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.
Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.
Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.
A love so deep can forever scar the soul. That one line is everything. Soraya, escapes Iran for America when she feels her world is crumbling around her. Little does she know things are far worse than they appear. She loves her husband so fiercely and so completely that she is almost shattered to pieces when she stumbles upon his indiscretion.
After stumbling upon the affair between her husband and best friend, Soraya leaves everything behind to try and sort out her life and come up with some sort of revenge. Surprisingly, I don't think she had originally intended for things to get so out of control, but finding the estate Chateau Laurier-Rose Blanc, named after a poisonous flower, I think it may have added to her delusions. With the vast space for a large garden, Soraya transforms the abandoned space into a luscious butterfly friendly haven and renamed it Paradise of Butterflies, supposedly to honour her dear friend Parvaneh (Butterfly).
It is with deep hatred that we watch Soraya gather and complete a collection or dead butterflies and with such determined revenge that she collects sultry photographs of men with her camera. Both are signs that she cannot forgive her loved ones for their betrayal.
Throughout that story we learn about her life in Iran via flashbacks to childhood and life before fleeing to America. We learn about the history of the marriage she so strongly wishes were not falling apart before her. We learn about the fall of the Shah and the turmoil in Iran. We learn about the way her shielded life in Tehran is so much different from the open views of America. She can shed her covers and not hide away from the world. In my mind, she has shed more than just her chador and coverings. She has begun to allow a part of herself to come forward that was hidden all this time.
The visit from her husband and friend, not only opened old wounds and brought surprises that I wasn't ready for, but it changed how I viewed this woman. At first, I was completely on her side and felt for her. I wanted to root for her to somehow show them how they hurt her so much, but over time I was afraid for her. Her mental state changed so quickly and even after the twist is revealed, I wasn't sure how she would manage. She also had her share of secrets to reveal. Not everyone is perfect.
There is so much more to this story than just an affair and the build up of revenge. The ending surprised me completely. I'm still not even sure what to think of it, though I realize it is left open for our imaginations to fill in. Perhaps love can't conquer everything, but the scars it leaves behind are deep enough it can see you through?
Check out a great guest post by the author at Books a la Mode or the rest of the tour at TLC Book Tours.
About the Author:
Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel and moved to Iran when she was nine. At the onset of the Islamic revolution, she and her family moved to the United States. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California-Los Angeles and a master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.
Dora is the bestselling author of the acclaimed novels Harem, Courtesan, and The Last Romanov. Her fourth and most provocative book, Scent of Butterflies, was released January 7, 2014. She is a frequent contributor to numerous media outlets including the Huffington Post and the Jewish Journal. She has been featured on KCRW, The Politics of Culture, Voice of Russia, Radio Iran and numerous other radio and television programs. She is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editors’ choice award and was accepted as contributor to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Dora Levy Mossanen’s novels have been translated into numerous languages world-wide.