Archive for July, 2008|Monthly archive page

Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran

Rosewater and Soda Bread, by Marsha Mehran, states on the cover that it is a novel of three sisters, two countries, and the language of food. It is really much more. The Iranian Aminpour sisters — Marjan, Bahar, and Layla — live in Ballinacroagh, Ireland, where they operate the Babylon Cafe in the late 1980’s. Marjan is the leader, the eldest, the cook, the organizer, and a friend to anyone who will allow it. Bahar is retiring, questioning, somber, and still recovering from a disastrous marriage as a very young woman. Layla is a happy go lucky high school student who wants to rush into what she is sure will be adulthood with her boyfriend Malachi. Dervla Quigley wants these foreigners out of her sight, out of her town, out of her country. She spies from behind her curtain across the street and plots their ruination. The wonderful widow Estelle Delmonico, their friend and landlady, befriends a seriously wounded young woman on the beach and further endangers all their safe lives. Who knows what intrigue can go on in a small Irish village? The village priest starts his own oldies radio show. The young “lord of the manor” returns to his family’s lands in ruins and tries to capture Marjan’s heart. Delightful dishes are served up from the cafe — Who knew that gormeh sabzi, colcannon, or chickpea cookies could sound so wonderful in a novel that you can practically smell the delicious aroma? Why does Bahar disappear every day for two or three hours? Who is the mysterious Bella that Estelle is harboring? What do webbed fingers mean? Can there really be a “healing touch”? This delightful story makes you feel that you truly want to meet the characters and is a treat for the senses and the soul. Be sure to read Pomegranate Soup first. The sequel just makes it better and better.