Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The Saturday Night School Of Beauty by Marsha Mehran

The Saturday Night School Of Beauty by Marsha Mehran
First published in Australia in 2014 as The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty. Published in America by AmazonCrossing on the 8th September 2015.

One of my WorldReads from Iran

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A moving tale of exile, friendship, and love from the bestselling author of Pomegranate Soup.

In the wake of the Iranian revolution, Zadi Heirati, a single mother, flees to Buenos Aires with her young daughter. She decides to do what she knows best and opens a beauty salon, but as she meets her new neighbors and discovers their shared passion for poetry, the idea develops into much more than a job. The inhabitants of her apartment building form an eclectic community: a sick ex-prisoner and his daughter; a promising medical student; a timid hairdresser; a newlywed couple with a dark past; a young revolutionary; an eccentric pilgrim of Mecca; and at the heart of the group, Zadi, whose humble small business becomes a spiritual hub where she hosts weekly readings of Persian poetry.

Drawn together by the revolution in their homeland, these neighbors share words that inspire each to turn inward and discover beauty long buried. At once familiar and extraordinary, this story weaves disparate lives together into a tapestry of unique grace, wit, and lyricism.

Although The Saturday Night School Of Beauty is set in Buenos Aires, we are presented with very little to identify Argentina. Instead, through the conversations and reminiscences of a disparate group of Iranian exiles, we learn of Persian culture and tradition, and how political upheavals caused chaos and loss in their lives. The overwhelming feeling I came away with, having finished the book, was that of homesickness and longing. It was not as deep a read as its synopsis suggested and I had hoped. Poetry is indeed read and quoted extensively, but the discussions are brief and generally simple. On the other hand, the title is suggestive of a chick-lit novel, and even the beauty shop scenes don't portray that kind of sisterhood.

Perhaps The Saturday Night School Of Beauty would best be described as a series of vignettes. Characters in turn delving into their remembrances of home. Often, as readers, we are unsure if they are talking to the group or to us alone and these intense monologues are particularly moving. Overall I did find the story disjointed and unfinished. This may be due to its author having sadly died before its completion and her father having taken responsibility for its final edit. As portraits of Iranian life and the longing of exiles, this has a fascinating elements, but as as a novel, I found it ultimately unsatisfying.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Marsha Mehran / Contemporary fiction / Books from Iran


  1. Hi! The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty! I never knew that! ;)(

    1. Because that's what we all remember her for!!