The Golden Cage: Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny by Shirin Ebadi
|The Golden Cage: Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny by Shirin Ebadi|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: A factual, first-hand account of modern-day Iran by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Three brothers grow up with vastly different outlooks and feelings about their country: Iran, as they witness change and upheaval|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: July 2011|
|Publisher: W W Norton and Co|
|External links: Author's website|
Dr Ebadi is currently living in exile, fearing for her safety, should she return to Iran in the foreseeable future. Her Prologue describes a violent and bloody reaction to what was a peaceful situation involving wives, mothers and sisters. Boulders and large stones were thrown at elderly, defenseless women without a moment's hesitation. A taste of things to come?
Chapter 1, under the heading Old Friendships details how the author came to know and know extremely well, these three brothers as well as the other members of the family. It was a generational thing with the mothers having been good friends for years, then it was passed down, if you get my drift, to the daughters of the respective families namely Shirin (the author) and Pari.
Pari, her parents and her brothers all lived a comfortable existence in an area known as Abbas Abad. Ebadi's description is evocative and also rather exotic and it all sounds a world away from the UK, for example. We get details of the intricate architecture, the lush gardens, the spicy food and altogether it brings to the mind's eye an almost magical picture, perhaps a place to visit. But all that was back in the good old days, you could say. Things are about to take a turn for the worse.
I got the impression that Pari was a girl with a wonderful free spirit (she loved American films, for example) while Shirin was altogether quieter, more contemplative - You think too much, Shirin ... As all these young people of both sexes grow up things change and people change. Decisions will be made and friendships sorely tested.
Ebadi takes us right back in history and tells us, step by step, of when and perhaps more importantly why, various political/social/economic upheavals happened within Iran. In the main these decisions were political. The Shah of Iran seemed to have been loved and loathed in equal measure by his people. Many of those against him saw him as a weak 'puppet' of America happy to give away vast oil reserves. But in exchange for what?
Then we nip back to the personal. One brother is an ardent and loyal follower of the king. You get the impression that he'd die for his country. Family conversations round the dinner table are now strained with the father forbidding any political discussion whatsoever. You can see just how fractured things have become within this particular family as Shirin watches from the sidelines.
Another brother chooses the military as a way of life. It doesn't go down at all well at home with the parents who think that their idealistic son has been brainwashed. But, he will not be deterred from his particular Golden Cage and Ebadi follows his military ups and downs.
We also follow the fortunes of the third son as he embraces everything that Ayatollah Khomeini says and his chosen path is often rocky.
The women portrayed in this book have a tough time generally. Although Ebadi's parents are educated and enlightened and insist on treating male and female equally; not everyone takes this view. Some women are treated as second-class citizens and are often ignored in male company. These women cannot articulate freely their thoughts and opinions.
Alongside the three very different journeys of the three brothers, we're told a bit about the author herself. About the time, for example, when she found herself imprisoned. She gives her readers a blow-by-blow account of this terrifying ordeal.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, revolution(s) and politics play major roles here. The tone of the book is thoughtful and serious as befits the rather weighty subject matter. There's an awful lot of detail about family life, some of which is less interesting and could perhaps have been pared down or even omitted to make for, in my opinion, a sharper read. Overall, a thought-provoking book about a troubled part of the Middle East and also about a family in turmoil.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might like to try Heart of Darfur by Lisa French Blaker.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Golden Cage: Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny by Shirin Ebadi at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Golden Cage: Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny by Shirin Ebadi at Amazon.com.
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