While at first glance The Veil of Tears appears to be a tragic soap opera, closer inspection reveals a book which provides a glimpse to how the culture and laws of a country, in this case Iran, impact on the lives of the men and women in that nation state. The two murders, which take place during the course of this story, bring these issues into sharp focus. The narrative exposes the path that the majority of young people still travel down in their journey towards marriage; its poignancy lies in its enduring legitimacy in the 20th century. Amongst the humour, interwoven throughout the fabric of the text, the reader will find an astonishing depth to family ties and a familial closeness that clearly has far-reaching consequences. In this culture, members of both the immediate and extended family will stop at nothing in their efforts to help each other; we learn that troubled marriages can often be saved by the intervention of elders. As the story unfolds, one begins to appreciate the intensity of affection and profound sense of responsibility that is innate in a mother s love, something which highlights the huge sacrifices that she is prepared to make for her children. Vakili uses her heroine, Shirin, to shine a spotlight on the lives of many women: a mother; a stepmother;a grandmother; a sister-in-law;a lover;a maid; and a neighbour. Set in Tehran in the Iran of the 1990s, Shohreh Vakili opens the prologue of her story with the lines: Throughout my childhood my ideals remained tantalisingly beyond my fingertips so I was determined to reach my eighteenth birthday so that I could legally decide my own future… Turning eighteen became as delicious and as pleasurable as approaching Eftar when the Muslims break their fast after sunset during Ramadan. I had honoured the ritual of fasting over the years but now, as I stood on the threshold of my eighteenth year, I looked forward to a future where I could finally taste what had previously been forbidden to me.

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