Day 1177: Song of a Captive Bird

Cover for Song of a Captive BirdI have this little quirk. I’ll pick out a book, but when I actually get around to reading it, I don’t look at the blurb to remind myself what it is about. If I’d done that, I would have known that Song of a Captive Bird is about an actual person, and that knowledge may have affected my reaction to it. On the other hand, a novel should stand or fall on its own merits, not because of what you know or don’t know about it before you begin reading it.

In the 1950’s and 60’s Iran, Forugh Farrokhzad is having a difficult time with the strictures of her culture. She wants to be a poet, but the role of women in her country is still only that of a wife and mother. She has always been a difficult child, and as a young woman, her first act of rebellion is in trying to select a husband for herself. She chooses her cousin Parvez because of a shared interest in poetry.

She marries Parvez but at the cost of losing the regard of her father, a powerful general under the Shah. But marriage isn’t what she expected. Instead of staying in Tehran, her husband takes her home to his small village where they live with his disapproving mother. In the village, her every action is scrutinized.

link to NetgalleyThe novel follows Forugh as she pursues her career as a poet and later a film director despite being slandered, attacked, and viewed as a prostitute by most of Iranian society. It is interesting in its evocation of this time and culture, especially the details of everyday life and the build-up to the Iranian revolution. However, something was missing for me. The novel did not seem particularly successful as an inspiring and moving story of one woman’s courage.

I think my reaction was because of Darznik’s choice to write this novel in first person. There was something about that perspective that didn’t work, particularly at the end of the novel. Although I think I would have ordinarily been touched by this woman’s story—she was certainly gifted and courageous—something about the novel kept me from getting fully involved.

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6 thoughts on “Day 1177: Song of a Captive Bird

  1. Helen February 13, 2018 / 2:51 pm

    This sounds as though it should have been inspiring and moving, so I’m sorry to hear it wasn’t very successful. It’s an interesting setting and subject, though.

    • whatmeread February 13, 2018 / 5:14 pm

      Yes, I was disappointed, a little. There was something lacking in it.

  2. Carmen February 13, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    Too bad you thought the novel wasn’t entirely successful. One would think that a story about courage and defiance would come across as inspiring.

    • whatmeread February 13, 2018 / 5:16 pm

      Yeah, it just didn’t make it somehow. Someone else may feel differently, though.

  3. Naomi February 15, 2018 / 3:54 pm

    I don’t think you should have to know anything about a book before going into it. I like your little quirk. I usually end up re-reading the blurb, though, because I’m so curious!

    • whatmeread February 15, 2018 / 4:01 pm

      I only do if I’ve read a way in and still can’t figure out what the point of the book is.

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