Though I stumbled upon the novel by accident, I must admit this book was well worth finding. The stories were simply written but were almost deceivingly fully loaded-- full of conflicting values, political ideology and agendas, and societal turmoil. The compilation of separate women's lives, so different from one another, but joined together by a common thread, hearkens back to a similar style of tale-telling found in many other cultures, such as Amy Tan's novel 'The Joy Luck Club' and the popular film 'How to Make an American Quilt'. Rather than choosing to write a politicized essay or thesis which reaches only a certain segment of the educated and politically literate population, Parsipur chooses to write fiction, laced with raw truths and posessing a clear agenda.
Such tales are typical of the kind that are passed down from generation to generation in order to educate the young about their society's morals or possible pitfalls that may entrap those who stray from the accepted norm. This is not dissimilar from urban legends that adults in American society pass amongst themselves or the fairy tales laced with truths that young children are told before bedtime.
Sometimes the most volitile information is passed down and understood by the most simple or innocuous means, and I think that is a conscious choice that Parsipur has made with this book. She chooses to uncover the double standard that both male and female society is guilty of upholding, the notion of virginity (and the understanding of what it is and what it means), and socially-sanctioned ideas of morality, mortality, violence, and inter-gender relationships through stories that allow the reader to look at how different women deal with the society that they live in.
Because Parsipur does not clearly lay out a list of evils that Iranian society proportedly commits, nor does she specifically glorify other elements of her society, her writing raises many more questions for the reader to ponder. By making the problems personal for each woman, some of the issues that a reader would initally consider black and white suddenly turn grey, which in turn, leads to a greater depth of meaning in her work.
In sum, I was very impressed by the book's simplicity, and appreciative for the brief glimpse through the window to Iranian society that it offered.