Saturday, 25 April 2020

Aria by Nazanine Hozar

Aria by Nazanine Hozar
Published by Penguin on the 12th March 2020.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Iran, 1953, a driver named Behrouz discovers an abandoned baby in an alleyway. When he adopts her, naming her Aria, he has no idea how profoundly this fiery, blue-eyed orphan will shape his future.

As she grows, Aria is torn between the three women fated to mother her: the wife of Behrouz, who beats her; the wealthy widow Fereshteh, who offers her refuge but cannot offer her love, and the impoverished Mehri, whose secrets will shatter everything Aria thought she knew about her life.

Meanwhile, the winds of change are stirring in Tehran. Rumours are spreading of a passionate religious exile in Paris called Khomeini, who seems to offer a new future for the country. In the midst of this tumult, Aria falls in love with an Armenian boy caught on the wrong side of the revolution. And before long she will be swept up in an uprising which will change the destiny of the land - and its people - forever.

Aria is an Iranian historical fiction novel which takes place over the turbulent decades of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, as well as looking back further in time to explore the previous events which will set Iran on its course to revolution. The focus of this novel though is the eponymous Aria, an abandoned baby who is miraculously found in the neck of time and raised under unusual circumstances. Although some of the adults surrounding Aria are kind, others are anything but so Aria, the novel, isn't an easy read due to frequent instances of child neglect and abuse, especially as this behaviour often seems to almost considered normal.

The book follows Aria from her birth to adulthood, with the political situation in Tehran providing a backdrop to this coming of age story. I was gripped by the early years because I particularly appreciated Hozar's strong characterizations and her portrayals of Tehran. As the book progressed however, I found myself becoming more easily distracted. I didn't think the writing quality was maintained to such a high level and the characters, even including Aria herself, became less vivid. Overall I am glad to have read Aria, but felt that the first half was by far the stronger and I was disappointed in how the story faded over time.

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Books by Nazanine Hozar / Historical fiction / Books from Iran

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