The Blood of Flowers

“Once there was a girl who could make glorious carpets from wool tinted with the essence of orange safflowers and pomegranates…”

In seventeenth century Iran, a spirited village girl of fourteen approaches the age of marriage, only to find her destiny shattered by the ominous prophecies that follow a fiery comet blazing across the desert sky. Confronted with the unexpected death of her beloved father and without prospects for gathering a dowry, the young woman and her distraught mother are forced into a difficult new life in the fabled city of Isfahan. Taken in as house servants by her distant uncle Gostaham, a well-to-do carpet designer, and his demanding wife, the two women confront an unforgiving world where their very survival requires strength and resilience beyond their most dire expectations.

When the heroine blossoms as a brilliant maker of carpets under her uncle’s tutelage, the future brightens with the possibility of affluence and independence, but soon disaster strikes again. An impetuous act of artistic integrity results in the heroine’s disgrace, forcing her into a loveless, secret marriage. Toiling as a carpet designer by day and a reluctant wife by night, she makes an audacious decision that shocks her host family and puts their reputation at stake. With nowhere else to turn, the young woman must marshall all of her artistic genius and her extraordinary will in an attempt to save herself and her mother from a grim and unfulfilling future.

Set in the legendary time of Shah Abbas the Great, the novel captures the bustle of bazaars overflowing with pomegranates, rosewater and saffron; the breathtakingly beautiful silk and gold rugs of the Shah’s carpet workshop; and Isfahan’s incomparable bridges, gardens, teahouses, and hammams. With spellbinding medieval Persian tales and prose that flows like the Zayandeh River through the city of Isfahan, The Blood of Flowers is the story of one woman’s struggle to create a life of her choosing, relying—against all odds—on the strength of her own hands, mind and will.

The Blood of Flowers makes's list of 100 essential audiobooks that “stand the test of time.”

Long listed for the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction
Shortlisted for the 2008 Boeke Prize