The Stationery Shop

The Stationery Shop

A novel set in 1953 Tehran against the backdrop of the Iranian Coup about a young couple in love who are separated on the eve of their marriage, and who are reunited sixty years later, after having moved on to live independent lives in America, to discover the truth about what happened on that fateful day in the town square....

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Title:The Stationery Shop
Author:Marjan Kamali
Rating:

The Stationery Shop Reviews

  • Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    LONG ....BUT NO MAJOR SPOILERS....

    There is much to like about “The Stationary Shop”, where we are taken back to the year, 1953 when Mossadegh was the Prime Minister in Iran, during political devastating-havoc.

    Many people in Iran loved Mossadegh. They believed he was their democratic leader who had the courage to stand up to foreign powers wanting their oil. Mossadegh was ‘hope’ for the many people in Iran who believed in him. They felt he was the right man to achieve democracy.

    The

    LONG ....BUT NO MAJOR SPOILERS....

    There is much to like about “The Stationary Shop”, where we are taken back to the year, 1953 when Mossadegh was the Prime Minister in Iran, during political devastating-havoc.

    Many people in Iran loved Mossadegh. They believed he was their democratic leader who had the courage to stand up to foreign powers wanting their oil. Mossadegh was ‘hope’ for the many people in Iran who believed in him. They felt he was the right man to achieve democracy.

    The anti-Mossadegh folks were angry - they thought Mossadegh was a communist and many not only wanted to replace him - plotting against him for General Zahedi as post-coo Prime Minister replacement - they wanted Mossadegh dead.

    Demonstrations got ugly and frightening. Protesters were shouting “Marg Bar Tudeh”....death to Mossadegh. History had never been more frightening- dangerous and ugly. The protesters managed to enter Mossadegh’s house... but he managed to escape through a window to a neighbors.

    The coup d’Etat conspirators looted the prime misters house - burned some of the contents -completely destroying his house. The coop had succeeded. The world would be changed the world forever.

    The political history written by Marjan Kamali, is clear, accurate, uncomplicated, straightforward, and easily accessible.....making this a great book choice for anyone who is unfamiliar with the political history & culture of Iran. This novel would make a a great pick for American High School and college students.

    The history was written simple to understand - yet frustrating for many in Iran to understand why American government had a hand in the coup.

    I spent several months in Tehran in 1974....I cherish my memories ....with some crazy stories and great times!

    Back to this story.....

    During the summer of 1953, a couple fell in love. Roya and Bahman were 17 years old. Both bright educated students. They were engaged to be married.

    But for reasons - (much for the reader to ponder), they never married each other.

    Bahman literally vanished from Roya’s life on the very same day that they had planned to meet at Sephah Square at Cafe Ghandi.....the same cafe where Roya first tasted coffee during the New Year holiday: ‘Nowruz’.

    Bahman ordered them both a steaming Italian espresso with cream.

    Passing on Roya’s normal drink - tea - to try coffee - wasn’t the only change for Roya during the most memorable summer of her life. Everything was changing fast and faster since falling in love with Bahman. Her thinking opened politically in ways they never had until she fell in love with an activist.

    She planned to secretly marry Bahman at the office of Marriage and Divorce...a few weeks before their real wedding. But on August 19th, 1953....when demonstrations - and violence in the streets were at an all time high....during the overthrow of Mossadegh....the day hundreds were killed...

    Roya was alone waiting for her fiancé. August 19, 1953, they were going to marry - meeting at their favorite cafe, but Bahman never showed up.

    Roya and Bahman first met in a Stationary/ Book store Shop, run by Mr. Fakhri.

    Mr. Fakhri used to refer to Bahman as “the boy who would change the world”. Symbolically....the title of this book will be clear in many more ways than one, once the reader is finished reading it all.

    Four and a half years after the coop...four and a half years since Roya and Bahman were to marry....

    Bahman was working at a petroleum company....married to another women....with a baby on the way. I found it shocking and sad to learn about Bahman’s job.

    The suspense of why - how come - and what happened- that broke up Roya and Bahman, will keep you guessing to the end.

    Time kept moving on....

    Roya and her sister Zari came to California- both having received an international scholarship at Mills College in Oakland....( a small private college not far from UC Berkeley)....

    Our own daughter went Mills College.......and UC Berkeley.

    I kept thinking about how political demonstrations changes people ....

    I thought about the protesters against the Vietnam war when I was attending UC Berkeley.

    Time keeps moving on.....

    Bahman - and Roya - both senior Citizens - looked back on their summer - of love - during political chaos. ...August 19, 1953 is a day neither had forgotten -

    Time ‘still’ keeps moving on....

    Sixy years later....

    Bahman wondered what his generation learned. He had worked hard to do all the right things to bring about political change… Democracy…

    but in one day, in one afternoon, foreign powers and corrupt Iranians destroyed all his dreams. What had he learned? What regret did he have?

    Getting older....

    Roya married Walter. Her sister Zari married Jack. Both sisters married Americans...had children .....jobs ....( we get lots of juicy stories about living in America as an Iranian).....

    From the SF Bay Area ...to New England....it seemed no matter how many years went by - births...events... happiness and tragedies... when Roya was alone in her thoughts....Bahman was who she reflected on.

    I felt incredibly sad for people who worked hard for good changes in the world, but then saw themselves as failures, or worse....dead.

    I felt even sadder ....when I learned the why’s and ‘what happened?”

    It’s amazing to think about how one WORD can be ‘life-changing’.

    Iran was a complex nation in 1953 - still is. History repeats itself...

    Politically charged....

    In 1979 Iran had its Islamic Revolution- no longer ruled by the Shah - but religious clerics.

    This was also a wonderful story exposing the many complex relationships - the challenges facing cultural traditions vs. progressive changes - love and loss.

    Young-adult-coming of age - falling in love and all the influential complexities including parents - in-laws - siblings - friends - aging (memories, ailments, regrets, sorrows, perspective)

    Besides Iranian political history being brought to life, which historical fiction readers will appreciate...fans of romance novels might enjoy this book as well. Universal themes include family, and friends.....with ‘love’ being at the heart of everything that really matters.

    If you enjoy Persian food.... there are many wonderful dishes being served. Yum!

    Besides being a very engaging enjoyable book.....this story is timely - given the political relations between the United States and Iran today.

    Kudos to author Marjan Kamali! Terrific heartfelt storytelling - written with intimacy and compassion.....

    This book - a lovely tribute - offers an understanding of life for Iranians and Iranian-Americans.

    Thank you Marjan Kamali. I plan to read more by this lovely author.

    Thank You Netgalley and Gallery Threshold

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    Roya lives in Tehran in the 1950s. She’s a teen brimming with idealism, at a time when it could be dangerous with the political upset in Iran. Roya finds peace in Mr. Fakhri’s book and stationery shop. (Can you even believe? This made this paper and book love over the moon with happiness!).

    The store is dusty, warm, and inviting, and Mr. Fakhri is kind. There are fountain pens, bottles of ink, and special papers.

    Mr. Fakhri introduces Roya to his other favor

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    Roya lives in Tehran in the 1950s. She’s a teen brimming with idealism, at a time when it could be dangerous with the political upset in Iran. Roya finds peace in Mr. Fakhri’s book and stationery shop. (Can you even believe? This made this paper and book love over the moon with happiness!).

    The store is dusty, warm, and inviting, and Mr. Fakhri is kind. There are fountain pens, bottles of ink, and special papers.

    Mr. Fakhri introduces Roya to his other favorite customer, Bahman, with hopes love will develop. Bahman is also an idealist with a yearning for change. They are an instant match and continue to visit the shop together.

    A couple months later, Roya and Bahman are to be married, and just before they are supposed to meet, the coup d’etat occurs that changes Iran forever. And Bahman never shows up.

    Years pass- sixty years, in fact, until Roya and Bahman are reunited. Roya understandably has many questions for him about where he’s been.

    Friends, this book is as lovely as that stunning cover. I savored every word. This reminded me a little of another gorgeous book I read about Iran last year, Song of a Captive Bird, which took place during the same time period. I adored both books.

    I enjoyed learning more about the culture of Iran, and especially that tumultuous time in the 50s. The love between Roya and Bahman was effervescent, and I loved that they were reunited for some closure.

    Overall, The Stationery Shop is not to be missed for fans of stories about families, cultural/diverse reads, historical fiction, and book and paper lovers like me who love all these other things, too, will be absolutely giddy to read this powerful, emotional love story set on a strong historical backdrop. I’m adding Together Tea, the debut by Marian Kamali, to my cart right this very instant.

    I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

    My reviews can also be found on my blog:

  • Nilufer Ozmekik

    Look at love

    How it tangles

    With the one fallen in love

    Look at spirit

    How if fuses with earth

    Giving it new life

    Five lyrical, heart-wrenching/ripping/breaking into pieces, soul shaking, perception changing, revolutionary, magical, eternal love stars!

    The list of the things you need urgently after you finish this book are:

    - Rolls of toilet papers, napkins, paper towels, anything helping you out to clean the nasty evidence of your ugly cries!

    -

    Look at love

    How it tangles

    With the one fallen in love

    Look at spirit

    How if fuses with earth

    Giving it new life

    Five lyrical, heart-wrenching/ripping/breaking into pieces, soul shaking, perception changing, revolutionary, magical, eternal love stars!

    The list of the things you need urgently after you finish this book are:

    - Rolls of toilet papers, napkins, paper towels, anything helping you out to clean the nasty evidence of your ugly cries!

    -Fresh air! So you can howl at the moon like a wolf for getting rid of bottled up emotions, anger, frustration.

    -Punch bags and gloves! Some of the characters on this book will piss you off so much as you remember their name (She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!!!), use the punch bags instead of your lovely house walls or glasses!

    - A good comedy movie or TV series to binge watch! Because you're gotta remember, there are still funny things in life!

    -Eat pasta, chocolate to rise up your blue mood!

    - Stay away from Zanax or any other prescribed pills, hard liquors which could deepen your depression. Try smoothies, ice cream or softer drinks!

    - Good make up products to hide your puffy red eyes!

    This story was started in Tehran, a stationary shop, it's a place where its owner Mr. Fakhri, helps the young people for their political awakening and fight for reformist changing of their country but it is also the safe place of book lovers who want to devour the words and broaden their intellectual minds.

    Young Roya, book-worm, 17, comes to the stationary shop to find herself, her own words and meets Bahman Aslan ( Aslan means lion, Bahram is mostly brave, passionate character just like his last name). As soon as they met, they understood that their life would never be the same.

    They fell in love when they were 17. They got engaged and against Bahman's mother's rejection who were suffering from psychological problems, they planned to get marry at the summer as the political turbulence commotion, danger of upcoming coup rising like Damocles' sword over their heads!

    But one day, Bahman and his family disappear and Roya can only communicate with him by the letters hidden inside the books with the help of Mr. Fakhri.

    Finally young lovers decide to get marry and meet at the square to go to the mayor's office with their documents. Roya waits for Bahman, witnesses Mr. Fakhri`s dying because of a political commotion at the square. And then she gets a letter from Bahman that says he wants to break up with her.

    Devastated Roya, decides to go to the US for college education and fresh start for her broken heart with her sister.

    So this is 60 year old story of two lovers who have broken up , tried to gather their pieces of their broken hearts, gone to their separate ways to move on their lives and finally they got back together after 60 years to have their closure !But you know that lovers don't finally meet somewhere.. They're in each other all along! As like Bahman ans Roya!

    I cried so much! I hurt so much! I cursed so much! This is a poignant, emotional, life changing and heavy story to absorb, digest properly about passion, ideals, dreams, sisterhood, traumas, betrayal, abortion, loss, devotion, trust, friendship, psychological issues !

    I still feel lumps on my throat! Especially final pages are so hard to continue! But it's totally worth it! Because this is an incredible journey about faith, love, beautiful Rumi poems!

    I enjoyed every second of it.

    I'm so lucky that I received this amazing complimentary ARC from the publisher, courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange of my honest review! I think it's safe to say I loved this book so much and again thanks to NetGalley to help me meet this gifted writer!

  • Christine

    5 stars

    My goodness. Another beautiful and enthralling read in a year full of them for me! I am going to be brief as the less said the better for potential readers of this wonderful novel.

    The Stationery Shop (the perfect title for this story) is set in two timelines—1953 and 2013. I would estimate, however, that 90% of the story takes place in 1953, including, believe it or not, the epilogue. Our protagonist is Roya, a young woman who turns 17 years old in 1953. She meets

    5 stars

    My goodness. Another beautiful and enthralling read in a year full of them for me! I am going to be brief as the less said the better for potential readers of this wonderful novel.

    The Stationery Shop (the perfect title for this story) is set in two timelines—1953 and 2013. I would estimate, however, that 90% of the story takes place in 1953, including, believe it or not, the epilogue. Our protagonist is Roya, a young woman who turns 17 years old in 1953. She meets her first love, Bahman, in a stationery shop run by a kind man eager to nurture young people who come in looking for knowledge. Both Roya and Bahman love poetry. The 1953 setting is Tehran, Iran, which is in political turmoil. The author’s research is obvious as we are presented with what Iranian life was like at that time, including the culture, the state of the unstable government, and the accompanying unrest. We also get a flavor of Persian food. And a most touching young romance.

    Things do not go as hoped and much grief and sadness ensues. To say more would risk saying too much. What happens to these people involves social mores of the time, mental illness, lies and deceit, familial wishes, deep regret, and again, political unrest. This is NOT your usual young romance - in no way, shape or form. Ultimately, although I felt drained at the end, we get understanding, compassion, acceptance and an abundance of love in many different forms. The Stationery Shop, a most moving and unforgettable tale with exceptional characterization, gets all the stars and is highly recommended.

  • Carolyn

    This is a beautifully written love story set against the political upheaval of Iran in August 1953, which saw the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh ousted by a coup designed to keep Iran in the hands of the Shah and its oil under control of the British and Americans.

    Roya, a poetry loving teenager in her last year of high school in Tehran loves nothing more than spending time browsing Mr Fakhri's stationery shop where as well as paper and pens he stocks all her favourite P

    This is a beautifully written love story set against the political upheaval of Iran in August 1953, which saw the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh ousted by a coup designed to keep Iran in the hands of the Shah and its oil under control of the British and Americans.

    Roya, a poetry loving teenager in her last year of high school in Tehran loves nothing more than spending time browsing Mr Fakhri's stationery shop where as well as paper and pens he stocks all her favourite Persian poetry as well as translations of International novels. There she meets and falls in love with a handsome young man, Bahman who is a political activist supporting Mosaddegh. For both of them it is their first love and with help from Mr Fakri to continue meeting in his shop they fall head over heels. However, after they become engaged to marry their plans go badly awry for reasons that neither of them fully understand and they end up going their separate ways. Set in 1953 and 2013, Roya looks back at the events of August 1953 that stole away her first love and shaped the rest of her life.

    Not only is the novel beautifully written and moving, it's also filled with the sights and sounds of Tehran during its brief period of democracy. The scents of delicately flavoured mouth watering Persian food leap off the pages whenever Roya or her family cook for special events or a dinner to cure homesickness. The book is also filled with wonderful characters from wide-eyed Roya and her fun loving sister Zara to the energetic but tender Bahman, the nostalgic, kind-hearted Mr Fakhri and Bahman's mentally fragile and bitter mother. A book I have no hesitation recommending to those who enjoy a tender love story.

  • Jen

    I love these middle eastern stories. Fascinated by their traditions-charmed by some; repulsed by others.

    This one is a reflection back on a love story that took place in 1953, Tehran. With a country who fought for democracy; for a couple who fought for it within their family. A couple who are destined to be together until torn apart for reasons unbeknownst to Roya. Fifty years later, she gets her answer.

    The beauty and description as well as the character depiction , were captivating.

    I love these middle eastern stories. Fascinated by their traditions-charmed by some; repulsed by others.

    This one is a reflection back on a love story that took place in 1953, Tehran. With a country who fought for democracy; for a couple who fought for it within their family. A couple who are destined to be together until torn apart for reasons unbeknownst to Roya. Fifty years later, she gets her answer.

    The beauty and description as well as the character depiction , were captivating.

    A beautiful cover to go with this beautiful story of love, loss and the reconciliation of destiny.

    5⭐️

  • Stephanie Nicholas

    This was absolutely magnificent! I'm still trying to catch my breath and dab away a few last tears after gently closing the cover. Ahhh my.

    This was a historical fiction novel that took place during the 1953 political uprising in Tehran, Iran. Roya and Bahman meet in Mr. Fakhri's stationery shop, a favorite place for them both. After falling in love against all odds, they plan to meet in secret and marry, but when that day comes, Roya finds that Bahman doesn't show. There is commotion

    This was absolutely magnificent! I'm still trying to catch my breath and dab away a few last tears after gently closing the cover. Ahhh my.

    This was a historical fiction novel that took place during the 1953 political uprising in Tehran, Iran. Roya and Bahman meet in Mr. Fakhri's stationery shop, a favorite place for them both. After falling in love against all odds, they plan to meet in secret and marry, but when that day comes, Roya finds that Bahman doesn't show. There is commotion in the square, and great tragedy strikes.

    Years later Roya and Bahman meet again, and secrets are unearthed about what happened on that fateful day.

    This story romanced me with how beautifully it was written. I learned so much about the politics, customs, clothing, food. It was a delight for the senses, and I felt as if I was almost reading one of Jhumpa Lahiri's novels, the way the author used sensory imagery.

    Oh my gaaaawd, if you have been thinking of picking up this little masterpiece, I assure you, you will adore this novel. Adore it!

  • Esil

    A high 4 stars!

    The Stationary Shop was an unexpected treat. This novel is partly set in Iran in the 1950s and partly set in contemporary US. The story focuses on Roya, who is a teenager in the 1950s and in love with Bahman. Through politics and family, things don’t work out for them, but they meet again in their 70s in the US. Roya and her journey are told lovingly. A number of characters do terrible things, but no one is terrible — life is complicated and people make bad choices. It

    A high 4 stars!

    The Stationary Shop was an unexpected treat. This novel is partly set in Iran in the 1950s and partly set in contemporary US. The story focuses on Roya, who is a teenager in the 1950s and in love with Bahman. Through politics and family, things don’t work out for them, but they meet again in their 70s in the US. Roya and her journey are told lovingly. A number of characters do terrible things, but no one is terrible — life is complicated and people make bad choices. It’s a story about class, politics, Iran, food and family bonds. There’s one coincidence that was necessary but a bit irksome. But otherwise I loved this story of love, regret and strength and of character. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • Karen

    4+ stars

    In Tehran 1953, Roya and Bahman both 17 yrs old, first meet at a stationary shop that they both frequent. They are rapidly and intensely taken with each other, a romance blooms and quite soon they are engaged.

    Fate has other things planned for these two souls and theirs is a powerful love story with feelings that last a lifetime, despite occurrences and people that separated them.

    This book made me cry.

  • Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

    review to follow. This is a good book but I would classify it more as historical romance, there is little history in this book :(

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