A poignant, heartfelt new novel by the award-nominated author of Together Tea—extolled by the Wall Street Journal as a “moving tale of lost love” and by Shelf Awareness as “a powerful, heartbreaking story”—explores loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.
Roya, a dreamy, idealistic teenager living amid the political upheaval of 1953 Tehran, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood stationery shop, stocked with books and pens and bottles of jewel-colored ink.
Then Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—and she loses her heart at once. Their romance blossoms, and the little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.
A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square when violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she moves on—to college in California, to another man, to a life in New England—until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did you leave? Where did you go? How is it that you were able to forget me?
In this tender story of lifelong love, Kamali (Together Tea) moves from 2013 New England to violence in 1953 Tehran as citizens, a new Prime Minister, and the Shah of Iran clash. In 2013, Roya is 77 years old, nearing the end of her life with her American husband, when she discovers her fianc from when she was growing up in Tehran is living in a retirement home nearby. She begins to relive her first meeting with young Bahman 60 years earlier in a small Tehran stationery shop. As is true with Roya's father, Bahman is an avid supporter of the new Prime Minister Mossadegh, but Bahman takes it further with dangerous activism. The love that blossoms between the two 17-year-olds is intense and true, but Bahman's mother is determined to direct her son's interests away from Roya. It's only with the help of Mr. Fahkri, who allows the young lovers privacy in his stationery shop, that the romance continues until a final misunderstanding; the couple is separated by expectations that they enter arranged marriages, as well as the violence that erupts in the streets when Mossadegh is overthrown. The loss of love and changing worlds is vividly captured by Kamali; time and circumstances kept these lovers apart, but nothing diminishes their connection. Readers will be swept away.
Wallowing in sadness
Well-written but thoroughly depressing story of intense pain from lost love.
I enjoyed reading this book. Written very well and love all the characters from the book.
The Stationary Store
I found the storytelling and characters authentic and I enjoyed learning about Iran and Persian culture in 1953. Well written and recommended.