Pomegranate Soup: A Novel

by Marsha Mehran | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0812972481 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Bibliocrates of Pueblo, Colorado USA on 5/7/2008
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16 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Bibliocrates from Pueblo, Colorado USA on Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I got this book for the Celestial Seasonings Book Club via Random House.


Amazon Editorial Review:
Beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small, sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of “crazed sheep and dizzying roads,” they might finally find a home.

From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streets–an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Café, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of Ballinacroagh’s uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied–and by foreigners, no less.

But the mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava–and with the transformation in her sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous.

And in the stand-up-comedian-turned-priest Father Fergal Mahoney, the gentle, lonely widow Estelle Delmonico, and the headstrong hairdresser Fiona Athey, the sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. But the idyll is soon broken when the past rushes back to threaten the Amnipours once more, and the lives they left behind in revolution-era Iran bleed into the present.

Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumph,s of two distinct cultures, Pomegranate Soup is an infectious novel of magical realism. This richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes, is a delectable journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.

International Bookring Shipping order subject to change
pashmack of Florida (US shipping preferred)
mssaver of Illinois (US shipping preferred)
JenKazoo of Louisiana (US shipping)
daniellechonody of Texas (International shipping) <----- book is here
spaceystacey of New Jersey (US shipping)
Llednyl of Ohio (US/Canada shipping)
Kimmi of Canada (Canada shipping preferred)
kobie03 of Newfoundland (International shipping)
Wandering-B of Hong Kong (International shipping)
deadendmind of Greece (International shipping)
vampirequeen of United Kingdon (Europe shipping)
arturogrande of United Kingdom (International shipping)
ana-b of Netherlands (International shipping)
Tinchen2205 of Germany (?)
lunacia of Norway (International shipping)
RalieghDog of Arizona (International shipping) *request to be last
Bluestocking88 of Washington (US shipping) *request to be last
pammykn of Alabama (will hand-off in person) *request to be last

Back to me... Bibliocrates of Alabama

Journal Entry 2 by Bibliocrates at Lake Worth, Florida USA on Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Released 15 yrs ago (11/5/2008 UTC) at Lake Worth, Florida USA



This book is on its way to the first participant, Pashmack. I'm sorry it took me so long to kick-off the ring, hope everyone enjoys it :)

Journal Entry 3 by pashmack from Lake Worth, Florida USA on Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The book arrived in today's mail, along with the cranberry-pomegranate tea and sweetener. I've taken my tea bag and sweetener out of the bag, and will enjoy them when I start reading the book later today. Thank you for sharing, Bibliocrates. I'm really looking forward to reading this.

Journal Entry 4 by pashmack from Lake Worth, Florida USA on Saturday, March 28, 2009
I have rather mixed feelings about this book. I did enjoy reading it, but was bothered by some things. First, it seemed unoriginal - too similar to Chocolat in many ways (I refer to the movie - I haven't read the book.) Second, the inhabitants of the Irish village were portrayed in a rather demeaning, stereotypical way. To me they always seemed like characters - or almost caricatures- not real people. Last, the author's attempts at magical realism just didn't work for me. Though lovely, the magical realism parts just seemed really out of place in the context of the rest of the book. These three things were somewhat disappointing to me. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the story for anyone.

And now, on to what I loved about the book! I did enjoy the parts that focused on Marjan and her sisters, the cafe, and the cooking. The impact of the revolution in Iran on the three women's lives was nicely woven into the story. But the highlight of the book, for me, was the food. The Persian cuisine almost becomes a main character. I think the author did a good job conveying that preparing this food is a labor of love- almost a spiritual experience. My husband of nearly 30 years is Iranian, and this cooking is very much a part of our lives. Each time Marjan cooked something, the book came alive for me - my mind tricked me into thinking that I was actually smelling the aromatic scents. I have cooked most of the dishes that are mentioned in the book - I think the elephant ears and the pomegranate soup are the only two that I haven't attempted yet. Oh, and the migraine remedy - I've not made that. I make abghust quite frequently, as my husband and son love it. And fesenjoon (or fesenjan)? Oh, my, is that delicious! The recipe we use calls for cinnamon and saffron, though, while the one in this book does not. Fesenjan smells and tastes heavenly!

The author clearly illustrated how memories and sensory input are related - the scents of certain foods catapulted the women back in time, reviving memories both pleasant and unpleasant. While I was reading about the "torshi", I was reminded that, for me, the smell of vinegar is forever linked to a lovely memory. Years ago, my in-laws from Iran were visiting us for the first time. While I was at work, my mother-in-law had begun to make torshi - chopped, pickled vegetables. She was sitting on the floor in her chador (covering) among plates of cut vegetables, jars, etc. as the smell of vinegar wafted through the house. Since she did not speak English, she held up a vegetable, showing me that she needed more. I walked up the street to a vegetable stand, and bought what she needed. When I got back, she held up another vegetable and shrugged apologetically. This went on for awhile - on into the next day. As she mixed one vegetable in, she would discover that her concoction needed more of another. It got to be a joke, and we would laugh together. Finally, the mixture met with her approval, and the many large jars were filled. The house smelled like vinegar for days and days, but that was the best torshi I've ever tasted. I've never been able to replicate her recipe - she had brought her own herbs and spices from Iran. The book brought back this wonderful memory. It was also heartwarming to read about "sard and garm" foods, and to remember the first time my husband (then boyfriend) tried to explain this in English, his second language. I didn't quite get it that first time, but later, after hearing more about it, was able to grasp the concept. The book also reminded me of all of the wonderful times (and meals!) we had with my husband's family when we visited Iran a few years ago. I hope the other readers will try some of the recipes from this book, or from another Persian cookbook. They'll be in for a real treat! Nush-e jan!

All in all, I did enjoy the book, and am glad I got a chance to read it. Thank you, Bibliocrates, for sharing the book and the yummy tea. And sorry I got so long-winded with my journal entry! I will be sending the book on its way to the next reader this afternoon.

Journal Entry 5 by mssaver from Chicago, Illinois USA on Tuesday, March 31, 2009
When it reads, it pours! (Yes, I did mean "reads".) I signed up for several BookRays or Rings, and almost forgot some of them because the list was so long. Suddenly, I'm receiving one after another!

Anyway, I'll get to this one as soon as I finish the one that arrived a few days ago! And to tempt myself to hurry, I'll save the tea for the day I start to read the book.

Journal Entry 6 by mssaver from Chicago, Illinois USA on Sunday, April 12, 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and there's hardly more I can say than pashmack's fabulous review. It's the kind of book that can make you amused, anxious, and comforted, all in a few minutes. I'll be moving it along shortly.

Journal Entry 7 by mssaver from Chicago, Illinois USA on Saturday, April 25, 2009
My most abject apologies! My workload has been so full, and with chorus and choir rehearsals a couple of nights a week, I just haven't gotten the book wrapped up and taken to the post office until today. JenKazoo was not up to receiving another book now, but this book is finally on its way to daniellechonody.

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention how wonderful the tea was! Instead of drinking it on the day I began reading the book, I drank it on the day the main character was brewing some pomegranate!

Journal Entry 8 by daniellechonody from Dallas, Texas USA on Thursday, May 28, 2009
Got the book in the mail a couple of weeks ago and thanks for the tea! Look forward to getting into it soon after I complete another book ring

Journal Entry 9 by daniellechonody from Dallas, Texas USA on Thursday, June 18, 2009
It's taken me a while to start this book but took it on vacation to Maine with me this week and finished it in 5 days. I loved how the story was interwoven with the food from Iran and how the author slowly revealed the history of the characters. A fun and quick read!

Journal Entry 10 by daniellechonody at Euless, Texas USA on Sunday, June 21, 2009

Released 14 yrs ago (6/20/2009 UTC) at Euless, Texas USA



Sent to next reader on the ring via media mail

Journal Entry 11 by spaceystacey from Bridgeton, New Jersey USA on Sunday, August 30, 2009
Read last evening in basically one sittting (with just a few nod-offs). I loved this read. Absolutely one of my top 5 books read so far this year.

In the flavor of Chocolat, but yet for me more aromatic. I loved the way each chapter was prefaced by a recipe. I can hardly wait to try some of these.

I will be looking for other books by this same author to read in the future, as this was her first novel.

As I already have the address for the next reader (I had pmed her for it once I knew that this read was on the way to me), this read will be in the post tomorrow a.m.

I hope the rest of the participant list enjoys the read as much as I did.

Journal Entry 12 by Llednyl from Marysville, Ohio USA on Thursday, September 3, 2009
Was waiting for me when I got home today - such cheery wrapping paper, I never thought of mailing something in giftwrap, thanks! I can't wait to read this one. I love me some good foodie fiction... yum yum.

Journal Entry 13 by Llednyl from Marysville, Ohio USA on Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Finished this scrumptious read this morning. Many people have mentioned a comparison to Chocolat, which I can definitely detect, however I also found a lot of similarity to Like Water for Chocolate. I enjoyed the book, particularly for the Persian culture and recipes (many of which I am copying down to try later!); they made my mouth water just reading about them. However, I can only echo some of what has been said before by pashmack: the Irish characters were more like caricatures and the instances of magical realism were so few and far between that they didn't really work in the novel. What I did like though, was the personal journey of Bahar throughout the book. I didn't really see that as a main theme until the end, but I was quite pleased to discover it. I liked the sisters' revelations that they were each independent and unique, and that sometimes one just needs to let things go and they will work out in the end.

I have the next participant's address and will be sending this off within the next few days. Thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 14 by Llednyl at -- BookRing, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- USA on Friday, October 2, 2009

Released 14 yrs ago (10/2/2009 UTC) at -- BookRing, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- USA



Sent off to kimmi this afternoon. I happened to have some pomegranate tea so I included a few bags - enjoy!

Journal Entry 15 by Kimmi from Kelowna, British Columbia Canada on Wednesday, October 14, 2009
This arrived in my box today with some yummy tea. Thank you! I will read it next.

Journal Entry 16 by Kimmi from Kelowna, British Columbia Canada on Monday, October 26, 2009
This was a quick read! While I enjoyed the story, I found the swearing, the racial slurs and the sexual references to be unnecessary. I felt at times that the author was trying to make her story more shocking or even that it might be taken more seriously with those elements added in. I think the same message could have been conveyed without these elements.

Thanks for sending it to me. I will get it into the mail to kobie03 this week. I have enjoyed the tea that Llednyl sent and I have bought my own pomegranate tea to add to the book when it continues its trip. I am even making the red lentil soup as I write this! It's simmering on my stove-top. Smells great!

Thanks Bibliocrates for sharing this book!

Journal Entry 17 by kobie03 from Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Book arrived today with some teas, even pomegranate tea. Thanks.

Journal Entry 18 by kobie03 at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Enyoyed this book, reading about the sisters struggles and their determinitation to overcome difficulties and suceed. The recipes and Marjan's skill in making them and drawing on her Persian culture for the effects these foods have on consuming the. Their Cafe must smell wonderful. I liked the Irish characters coming to adjust to having these sisters in their community. I'm looking forward to reading Rosewater and Soda Bread to follow their journey.


mailed to Wandering-B, next participant.

Journal Entry 19 by wandering-B from Tai Po, Tai Po Hong Kong on Thursday, January 7, 2010
Received this one in the post today - thanks to Bibliocrates for sharing with us all and to Kobie03 for sending it to me. Will be away from HK until the end of the month but will move it along then.

Journal Entry 20 by wandering-B from Tai Po, Tai Po Hong Kong on Thursday, January 28, 2010
Thoroughly enjoyed this book - I liked watching the girls evolve and establish themselves in their new homeland. I enjoyed the information on Persian culture and cuisine and would love to try some of the recipes.

Will be mailing along to deadendmind in Greece on Monday, 1 February.

Journal Entry 21 by wandering-B from Tai Po, Tai Po Hong Kong on Sunday, January 31, 2010
posting out to deadendmind 01 February - thanks again for sharing!

Journal Entry 22 by deadendmind from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Thursday, February 11, 2010
I just received the book today and will get to it at once, as I recently finished the book I was reading.

Thank you so much Wandering-b for the postcard, bookmark and teabags. They are lovely!

Also thank you to Bibliocrates for including me in the bookring. :-)

Journal Entry 23 by deadendmind from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Monday, March 1, 2010
The book was lovely and very enjoyable. I like the way the two cultures intertwined, Iran and Ireland. It's interesting how the two countries share their first two letters.
I've photocopied a few recipes I'd like to try and I've contacted the next person on the list.

Journal Entry 24 by vampirequeen from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Received in the post last week, apparently I forgot to say so.
Looking forward to this, had a quick peak at the recipes and I may try some of them

Sent it off to autogrande yesterday.

A very enjoyable book, with some nice food to try. I thinks I need me some abghust, I need to work out what I should be doing.

Journal Entry 25 by arturogrande from Coalville, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Friday, April 23, 2010
Arrived safe and sound - thanks very much. I've got a couple of ring books ahead of it, but I'm planning on getting to it quickly, so as not to hold the ring up.

Journal Entry 26 by arturogrande at Coalville, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I quite enjoyed this book, but I agree that it was too similar to Chocolat to be considered original. The bits which concentrated on food were lovely, and the sections dealing with the revolution in Iran and the terrible things the sisters had endured were well done. The only thing that really grated on me, though, was the use througout the novel of Americanisms, especially when they were coming out of the mouths of Irish characters.
Thanks for sharing, and I'm sorry to have held onto this book for so long.
It's now on its way to ana-b in the Netherlands.

Journal Entry 27 by ana-b at Gouda, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Monday, July 26, 2010
Found this book after returning from my holidays.

Journal Entry 28 by ana-b at Gouda, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Thursday, August 19, 2010
I really enjoyed this book and its recipes. It is a mixture of a feel-good story and a view on the Iranian Revolution and what impact it had on people.
I'll try to contact the next person.

On its way to Norway!

Journal Entry 30 by winglunaciawing at Hammerfest, Finnmark fylke Norway on Friday, September 10, 2010
The book has safely arrived, and is now with me! I must put it at the end of the queue of books on my TBR list. I have some other books that I have to read first, and hope nobody gets too disappointed. But we're all bookcrossers, so I think there will be an understanding, and I don't think anyone would mind too much. :)

Looking forward to read it, though!

Journal Entry 31 by winglunaciawing at Hammerfest, Finnmark fylke Norway on Monday, December 13, 2010
Finally started reading this book...

Journal Entry 32 by winglunaciawing at Hammerfest, Finnmark fylke Norway on Sunday, January 23, 2011
I really liked this book. Need to wrap my head around and make a review of it for my blog, but now I'm too tired after a week end of hours of dancing... ;-)

I have PMed RalieghDog for their address.

EDIT 5 February 2011 RalieghDog replied today. Not active anymore, and wanted to be skipped. PMing Bluestocking88 today.

EDIT 8 February 2011 I now have Bluestocking88's address, and will send it when I get back home. I'm currently out of town.

Journal Entry 33 by winglunaciawing at Hammerfest, Finnmark fylke Norway on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Released 13 yrs ago (2/16/2011 UTC) at Hammerfest, Finnmark fylke Norway


Mailed off to Bluestocking88 today!

Journal Entry 34 by Bluestocking88 at Longview, Washington USA on Monday, February 28, 2011
The book has arrived safe and sound. The weather here is cold and nasty--snow and rain take turns keeping us indoors. I thought I'd just read the first page, and find I've already reached chapter 3--lovely writing and and the recipes look delicious.

Thank you for giving me a turn, this book looks like a real treat.

Journal Entry 35 by Bluestocking88 at Longview, Washington USA on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I really enjoyed reading this book. The sisters and their shop fascinated me, as did the town and how Mehran wove everything together. The first 2/3 were well paced and a lovely read, but to me the end seemed rather hurried--which I found disjointed. It was a smooth lazy read, then I felt it was a rush to the finish.

I liked the ending, I just would have liked it more had it followed the same pace as the first part of the book. Some of the sisters' history in Iran seemed rushed--I would have liked more back story. Without giving anything away, I might have liked a different ending for a certain male character--but that was the author's choice and it did work. Like other readers mentioned, I felt the connection between this book and Like Water For Chocolate.

That being said, it's a book I would like to own, for the recipes alone. I will copy a few before I mail it along. I will pm pammykn tonight.

Journal Entry 36 by Bluestocking88 at Longview, Washington USA on Friday, July 8, 2011
I made a few copies, reread the book, misplaced pammykn's address, found pammykn's address, and am now finally mailing out this book. Apologies for having it so long, I did not realize I had had it so long.

Journal Entry 37 by pammykn at Decatur, Alabama USA on Thursday, July 21, 2011
received today -- thank you.

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