I have finished reading “The Stationary Shop” by Marjan Kamali and I kind of enjoyed it. I never heard of it before and I read it because we’re reading this book for one of the many book clubs that I’m in. This is actually the book club pick for March but I accidentally read it super early. I read this after The Iron Widow so it was a very much welcomed change.
I’ve heard two different reviews of this book. One said that it was a beautiful story and gave it four stars but someone else gave it three stars and said while it was beautiful, she didn’t buy the romance. I was nervous. So, just what did I think of this book? Read on to find out!
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?
What did I love? First of all, Bahman was very attentive to Roya. He noticed little things like the fact that she liked to read poetry and he’d write her poems and he bought her a notebook so that it could “be filled with beautiful words” and things like that and to me that was just sweet. He knew that she loved to read! I loved how he called her Roya Joon (he did it so much I thought it was her last name).He introduced her to things that she normally wouldn’t have, like coffee or pastries or dancing the tango.
What I didn’t appreciate about him was how political he was and he seemed very pushy towards her. They moved very fast in their relationship and I’m not sure if it was something that was common back in 1953 but they were super young (17/18) and were talking of marriage and I was whoa there. Everyone went along with it, except for his mother but I’ll talk about that hot mess of a mom later.
There was one character in particular that I felt a real connection with (not that I didn’t understand the other characters). Claire. I am Claire. Claire is me. Listen to this excerpt: ” She followed their colorful, happy, but oh-so-careful-to-be-self-deprecating lives online. She read status updates of ‘Yes, it’s true, we have a bun in the oven!’ and pressed ‘like’ even though she sometimes felt empty and jealous. She saw the photos of her pregnant friends on beaches with their husbands’ arms around them and pressed ‘like’.” This was an every day thing for her. She’d go to work, come home log on to social media and watch trash reality tv. She had lost both of her parents and felt a really deep sense of loneliness.She had no one. She was very sad and at first I was like, why are reading about this random chick but then I was like omg she’s me! I was so quick to roll my eyes when this was the one character that I felt the most connected to.
The character I hated the most? Badri. She was awful. Granted, she did have some mental health issues but she was terrible. I know Badri had her problems (stillbirths, miscarriages) and she was mentally ill but that was evil and low what she did to those kids! I can’t forgive her for it. Like it was awful when Bahman wrote her that letter at the end I kept seething as I read more and more of the letter. His mom is an awful woman. She purposefully kept them apart and took drastic measures!
I felt sad for Roya. She didn’t get to marry the love of her life (the book opens in the present day and she has a husband that isn’t Brahman). She met her first love, the man who introduced her to life she never knew and it was ripped away from her. She honestly in my opinion settled in life. She went with safe choices and she was betrayed by someone she trusted. She dealt with lots of Grief in her life.
This is honestly a 3.7 book. I was upset honestly. It’s not poorly written. Everything came full circle but it may just be my outlook on life but I was angry. I do love how as fate would have it they met up again after all was said and done. I do recommend this book. This book was beautifully written.
Have you read this book? What romance book would you recommend I read next? What are you currently reading?
Title: The Stationery Shop
Author: Marjan Kamali
Publication Date: Feb. 11, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction & Romance
Content/Trigger Warnings: Pregnancy loss, Infant loss, Attempted Suicide