A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann (Review #2)

A Bitter Veil Reviewed by Teri Davis

For many of us growing up as children in the middle of the twentieth century, we expected to have our dreams fulfilled, love, marriage, education, a successful career, …

Hindsight always gives a person an advantage. However, in A Bitter Veil, an American girl, Anna, meets an Iranian boy, Nouri, who is studying engineering in Chicago. They meet in a bookstore and begin to discuss Persian poetry. This is the beginning of their loving relationship. It seemed like the perfect match even though she was blond and he had dark hair. Both had that Aryan look about their eyes. At that time not many people in this country had married someone from this area of the world. Being That in Iran at this time had about 46,000 Americans living there and appeared progressive with technology, styles, and habits, no one could have predicted how things could and would change in a very short time.

Anna had never been close to her family so her love for Nouri fulfilled her and she eagerly anticipated having an extended family, even if it is in Iran. Fortunately, Nouri’s family was wealthy and greatly benefited from the Shah’s reign basically living a Western life in Tehran. As the couple begins their new life in the modern Iran of 1978, the southern section of Tehran is having demonstrations and riots due to the inequality of opportunities inside this country. The southern part of this city is poor, the northern section where this couple lives, appears not to even be aware of the problems.

When the Shah leaves and the Ayatollah returns to the country, many people are eager for the change, this should fulfill their hopes and dreams. However, when the U.S. Embassy is attacked and those inside are held hostage, the attitude towards Americans and modernization quickly changes. This reversion to the old beliefs is difficult for those who were in favor with the previous governmental powers.

In A Bitter Veil, the voice of Anna is realistic and believable. Libby Fischer Hellman extensively researched this time period, the changes in Iran, and those people who actually underwent this experience. This in-depth fictional story is well-organized, engaging, as well as informative of actual historical episodes and the effects on those Americans in Iran.

A Bitter Veil is a true historical experience. Even though it is a romance at first, it is also a mystery, and definitely reflective to the changes within Iran.

Hindsight always makes us reflect into a right or wrong situation. A Bitter Veil allows us to view the changes through the eyes of a naïve Westerner while also having the reader develop a deeper understanding of the people.

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