Review: Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Title: Embroideries
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Genre:Women Non-fiction
First Published: 2003
Publisher: Pantheon
Source: Library

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, A to Z Challenge, Support your Local Library Reading Challenge, Women Unbound Challenge, POC Reading Challenge
144 pages



Book summary
From the best–selling author of Persepolis comes this gloriously entertaining and enlightening look into the sex lives of Iranian women. Embroideries gathers together Marjane’s tough–talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. Naturally, the subject turns to love, sex and the vagaries of men.

As the afternoon progresses, these vibrant women share their secrets, their regrets and their often outrageous stories about, among other things, how to fake one’s virginity, how to escape an arranged marriage, how to enjoy the miracles of plastic surgery and how to delight in being a mistress. By turns revealing and hilarious, these are stories about the lengths to which some women will go to find a man, keep a man or, most important, keep up appearances.

Full of surprises, this introduction to the private lives of some fascinating women, whose life stories and lovers will strike us as at once deeply familiar and profoundly different from our own, is sure to bring smiles of recognition to the faces of women everywhere—and to teach us all a thing or two.


If you have not read Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis 1 and Persepolis 2, you need to run (not walk) and grab those books to read. You are missing out on a great treat. I read them more than a year ago, and never knew she had written more memoirs. I was introduced to Embroideries when I joined the Women Unbound Challenge. I picked the book to read yesterday, and finished it in a half hour. I couldn't put it down, it was hilarious, and moving!

My thoughts
Embroideries captures the discussions between 9 women one evening at tea, including Marjane, her mother and grandmother. The discussions start with a news about the death of Marjane's grandmother's friend, and soon veers off into a hilarious discussion of sex and the many experiences of the women with their husbands. The book focuses on the roles of Iranian women in their families, as daughters and as wives. The whole book is interlaced with humor, as in the Persepolis books.

This is a very short read. I finished it in a half hour. Much as I found it entertaining, it also provided good glimpses into the lives of the women, through their tea discussions, or "gossip". As Marjane Satrapi's grandmother put it, "To speak behind others' backs is the ventilator of the heart."

The tea discussion among the women, understandably veers off into very personal matters, and soon we have all the women joining in with their stories and offering support to those who are overwhelmed by their memories. Their curiosity and persuasions, when someone hesitates to convey a juicy personal scoop, are so believable and endearing.

Unlike the Persepolis books, this book focuses very little on Marjane, but instead delves into the lives of the other women. That worked fine, because Marjane has some very interesting, and hilarious relatives here.

My only complaint is that I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. But that's just me. After all, a tea party can be interrupted and dispersed at any time. Most probably, I am just disappointed that it ended so soon.

The illustrations in the book are yet again done really well. This is something I enjoyed in the Persepolis books as well. If you actually study the faces of the characters, as you read the book, you will find that it reflects the characters' expressions really well, spanning from incredulity, to indignation to even irritation or anger.

Overall, the book is really entertaining but at the same time, it reminds you of how much women are sidelined and never given the respect they deserve. From the girl who was married off at 13, to the woman who waited patiently to join her husband only to find him cheating on her, we are introduced to various women who all have a tale to tell.

I totally recommend that you read this, if you haven't. I read this book for the Women Unbound Challenge, in the non-fiction category.

What did you think?
Have you read this book? I'd like to know what you thought about it. Please leave your review link in the comments, or a brief opinion, if you hadn't reviewed it.
Did you read Persepolis as well? Which did you like better?

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