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Remarks on The Good Daughter by Jasmin Darznik

April 16, 2011

The Good Daughter (Goodreads)

The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life by Jasmin Darznik is a beautiful book describing the lives of four generations of Iranian women.  The story begins with an Iranian-American daughter finding an old photograph of her mother as a child bride.  Knowing nothing of the past life of her mother she brings the photo to her mother and her mother starts sending her tapes chronicling her life in Iran, beginning with the tale of her grandmother and ending with her own tale.  Darznik also includes the stories of her own life growing up in America as a daughter of an Iranian mother and German father.

This tale is beautifully rendered and brings the reader into the lives of women in Iran.  Darznik shares details of family life and the rituals surrounding the Muslim faith and living in Iran primarily during the 1950s and 1960s.

Central to most of the women’s lives seems to be food.  Descriptions of food from the preparation of it to daily snacks to vast feasts served are prevalent in the book.  The way Darznik writes one can almost smell the saffron infused cooking, feel the crack of seeds between teeth, or taste the tea brewed with cardamon.  The rituals surrounding tea and food are something each generation brings along with them.

At times the story is heart wrenching and had me on the verge of tears.  Tales of the hardships endured stretch from images of war to financial difficulties to prejudices.  A primary theme emerges when both the joys, but mainly the difficulties of love and marriage are described.  Darznik goes into detail about the process of courtship and marriage in the Iranian culture.  The imagery in this story draws the reader deeply into the tale.  The book is written so well that it was hard to pull myself away from it.

For someone with little knowledge of Iran or the Iranian culture this book provided a small glimpse into the life of one family and the generations of women in it.  There are great introductions to small Persian phrases and Darznik writes so that one who has little knowledge of the traditions and society of Iran can follow the story easily.  It was a wonderful way to get a feel for Iranian society, especially in the 1950s & 1960s, as well as a sense of what it is like to be an immigrant in America and the child of an immigrant.

Overall this was an incredible story that I would recommend anyone read, especially if you are interested in the lives of Iranian women and families.  I was deeply impressed with this book and had trouble putting it down once I began reading it.

I received this book from NetGalley.

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