Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pomegranate Soup


I had grandiose plans yesterday for blogging and commenting, but wouldn't you know, I lost my internet connection for the day. Nuts. It's so hard for me to collect my thoughts when people (ie. my child) are in the house, but I'm going to give it a whirl.

I had an unexpectedly wonderful surprise this week when I picked up Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran. I was expecting (and hoping for) a light quick read, and while this was quick and light in parts, it was definitely deeper than I was expecting. This story opens when the three Aminpour sisters from Iran arrive in a small town in Ireland, Ballinacroagh, and begin to set up a cafe. The opening chapters were reminiscent of Maeve Binchey with their descriptions of small town Ireland and of people who are quirky, multi-faceted, and not always kind. I was reminded of Chocolat by Joanne Harris in the fabulous descriptions of cooking and food, the food sometimes seeming to intoxicate those who eat it. But Mehran makes this story all her own, because these sisters have come to Ireland for a reason, they have escaped from Iran during the revolution and each has their own memories and experiences to bear. Oldest sister Marjan is the mother-like cook, Bahar is the middle sister, tense and worried, and Layla is the youngest, still in high school, and lovely, with her whole life ahead of her. In Ballinacroagh, they meet the townspeople, some of whom are kind and supportive, others who wish to run them out of town. The Aminpour sisters are strong women and we learn of their struggles in Iran as they struggle to make a new life in Ireland.

I was really, really charmed by this book, I enjoyed the characters, the story, and the wonderful descriptions of food with accompanying recipes. It just so happens that there is a sequel, Rosewater and Soda Bread, and I am looking forward to the continuation of this story.

18 comments:

Ti said...

Wonderful review. I love hearing about books that I have never heard of.

Staci said...

I loved your review. I feel like I must run out and get this immediately from the library!! Thanks for such a great blog!!

bermudaonion said...

That is going on my wish list. Thanks for the review!

softdrink said...

I enjoyed Pomegranate Soup, too. Do you plan on trying any of the recipes?

Andi said...

This one sounds lovely! And, let's face it, the cover and title were enough to hook me. Pomegranates = yummy!

adevotedreader said...

I was pleasantly surprised by this book when it came out as well.

I made baklava from the recipe in Pomegranate Soup. It was delicious, and the kitchen had a heavenly scent of pastry, butter, sugar, cardamom, pistachio and rosewater for days.

I have the sequel in my TBR pile, and only hope it lives up to its predecessor!

Tara said...

Ti, thanks! I feel the same way - and when I picked this up I had never heard of it. Love that!

Staci, hi! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.

Bermudaonion, I think you would like this. Thanks!

Softdrink, thanks for commenting - I couldn't remember who else had said they'd read this. The red lentil soup really appeals to me - have you made any?

Andi, I love the cover too - the combination of red and tans always draws me in (and exists in my home as well).

Adevoted reader, I'm glad you liked it too. The baklava sounds great - I am a little intimidated to work with filo for some reason, I should try it someday.

Iliana said...

I'd so love a pomegranate right now! :)

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this book Tara. It sounds like a good story and you know I want to read it when you say it reminded you of Chocolat (I love that book!).

Michele said...

This just sounds lovely....onto the wishlist it goes!

nutmeg said...

I have seen this book at the bookshop along with The Septembers of Shiraz. I have wanted to read something about Iran for some time. I really like the sound of this book as the sisters travelling to live in Ireland gives it an extra dimension. You have convinced me Tara - I am going to put this one down on my next buy list.

Lisa said...

Great review. This is one I hadn't heard of, but it sounds really good. I'm adding it to the ridiculously long list...

Tara said...

Iliana, there's sort of that magical and quirkiness about it that reminded me of Chocolat. I'll love some pomegranate juice right now. Yum!

Michele, I hope you like it!

Nutmeg, so you know, the story is mainly set in Ireland with flashbacks to Iran. It's nice to know it's in your bookshops there...I'd never seen it before when I came across it in a huge bookshop in Chicago.

Lisa, thank you! My list is the same.

melanie said...

ooh, fun. this one has been on my bookshelves and i'll have to move it up the stacks! i love that you read "older" books - it's a great encouragement not to pass over those.

Carrie K said...

I hadn't heard of this book either but I'll be looking for it. It sounds like an interesting story.

Tara said...

Melanie, I hope you like it! I'm trying to read more 'older' books...but I've gotten so many ARCs in the past 6 months that it's hard to keep up.

Carrie K, it really was, and I'm glad I came across it.

Quirky Celt said...

Hi
I have just finished the sequel Rosewater and Soda Bread - and it was also delightful! It includes more lovely recipes too!

I thought the story was a mixture of Chocolat and the 90's TV show Ballkissangel :-)

Happy Reading!!
xx

Tara said...

Quirky Celt, I'm so glad to hear the sequel is good! I'm going to order it soon. Thanks for letting me know.

Rachel said...

I have this book on my TBR pile so I'm glad to know it's so well received.

I also wanted to let you know about a new foodie book club I and two other blogger buddies have started called "Cook the Books". Every two months we are going to pick a book, all read it, discuss it, and cook something inspired from it. Our inaugural pick is Lily Prior's "La Cucina", an earthy novel set in 1920-30's Sicily and Palermo.

If you would like to join us, stop by our new Cook the Books headquarters: http://cookthebooksclub.wordpress.com/