It’s the summer of 1953 in Iran and political turmoil reaches a boiling point as the Prime Minister Mossadegh faces a coup. Despite police brutality and violent demonstrations, two seventeen year olds, Roya and Bahman, fall in love in a beautiful poetry shop filled with Persian poetry, pens, and paper, with a little help from the shop’s owner. Their love faces many challenges, including the unrest in the streets and Bahman’s mother’s mental illness. When their plan to elope goes awry, Roya moves to California to start over. She marries a calm, respectable New Englander and has a good life until sixty years later she wanders into another stationery shop near Boston and comes face to face with her past.
A sweet love story with a bit of mystery and backstory layered underneath, this is an intriguing look into a time and place that few other historical novels explore. The immense heart break and loss Roya endures are palpable and even though the ending feels rather contrived, the themes of love, friendship, and memory are clear.