"The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Food and Love in Iran" by Jennifer Klinec. Guest review from Kay Mitchell
We received a copy of this title from the author, for review purposes.
Guest review from Kay Mitchell
The Temporary Bride is a gentle read and certainly will
engage the reader from the start. As promised in the title, it is a reflective
piece that documents the journey from childhood to adulthood of Jenny whose
independence has been instigated by responsibilities delegated to her at an
early age by emigrant parents who wanted to make a success of their
opportunities in the New World.
In parts it stretches the reader’s credulity in that at such
an early one would be studying and living independently in a foreign country;
however the narrator has throughout a keen eye for observation and reflection.
Any situation viewed through the prism of the stranger or the outsider brings
with a sharp focus as can be seen in this book. This certainly culminates in her
journey to Iran and as part of her quest to broaden her knowledge of the food
of that country. However, the journey that
begins as a culinary odyssey introduces her to the realm of the domestic; this
is the rule of women not men.
Her world to this point has been at times exploratory, at
times career orientated and now a subtle shift comes into play. She has gone in
search of romance:
‘It is true: what I seek is largely romance, the legacy of a country
where women are compared to food- her breasts like pomegranates, her lips like
One might think Iran as a surprising and unlikely choice
wherein to seek romance and yet this is exactly what happens. Yazid is where
she learns about how Iranian’s eat in the domestic realm and how family life
ticks along on a daily basis. However, its dark side is not avoided as depicted
in the challenges she and her lover face as they fall in love and to avoid dire
consequences she must become a ‘temporary bride’. The beauty of this county its cuisine and
people is offset throughout by the many references to offal. Various animal
body parts float across soups and stews and despite reassurances to the
contrary by the narrator the reader is left under no illusion as to the
allusory nature of the narrative. The depicted beauty of yellowstone buildings
and elaborately tiled Mosques sits side by side with the imagery of the reality
of the slaughterhouses and elaborate eye makeup that turns greasy and becomes
less than alluring.
It all ends happily and one cannot but be aware of the
similarities between this work and the
well known novel of Elizabeth Gilbert:
Eat Pray Love; however it is a good read and one I would recommended to
while away a few hours with a pot of tea on a rainy afternoon.
The Temporary Bride is published by Virago and is available in Paperback and ebook format