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Passion, Paradox and Revolution
Three young ladies, Mahin, Taher and Azar visit an Assyrian fortune teller in Tehran. Mahin learns that something will come into her name, that she will meet a man with blond hair and blue eyes and travel the world. At first, the fortune teller refuses to reveal Azar's and Taher's terrifying fortunes but when they insist Azar learns that she will have a serious accident and Taher that she will lose someone very close to her. When sometime later, Azar is pulled from the wreck of her car covered in blood shouting 'Thank God! Thank God!', passers-by think she has gone mad. Mahin's father meanwhile gives her the money to buy a house. In England, blond-haired blue-eyed John signs up for his first overseas posting to Switzerland only to be sent at short notice all expenses paid, to Iran. When, on his first week-end break in Tehran he spends the day at the races, he notices a Sophia Loren look-a-like sitting behind him. Then the hand of fate intervenes. Just 10 days later, John, in a moment of total infatuation with a girl he finds so exotic and whose beauty far exceeds even his wildest dreams, impulsively and unpremeditatedly asks her to marry him. When Mahin accepts their fate is sealed. Despite numerous cultural and bureaucratic obstacles John and Mahin marry later that year and at first set up home in Zurich. When Mahin receives a letter from Taher telling her that her young husband has been diagnosed with leukaemia and has less than 6 months to live, Mahin throws an apoplectic fit, before telling John about the fortune teller. Following brief spells living in England and Iran their lives are shattered by the Iranian revolution. As a result they spend the next 30 years travelling the world until John retires in England in 2008.
Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 6 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 6.75 out of 10

Assessment:

Idea/Concept: In a work of creative nonfiction, the Goodalls dramatize the circumstances of a love story--presumably, their own--that unfolds against the backdrop of 1960s Iran. While highly intriguing, the alternating perspectives can result in a degree of confusion, and readers may struggle to fully grasp the work's vision and intention.

Prose: Highly novelistic in structure, language, and voice, this book might readily be fully adapted into a work of fiction. The writing in Passion, Paradox, and Revolution varies widely in quality. Sections featuring dialogue and in-scene action are often clunky and unbelievable, while many prose passages are lyrical, polished, and elegant.

Originality: This work is highly unconventional in concept and execution. While initially unclear, readers will gradually become engaged in the foretold romantic relationship unfolding at its center.

Execution: Passion, Paradox, and Revolution offers readers an immersive story with a vibrant setting. Nevertheless, inconsistent writing and a somewhat disorienting framing concept, results in an uneven reading experience.

Date Submitted: January 23, 2020

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