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Rosewater and Soda Bread: A Novelby Marsha Mehran
Synopses & Reviews
Much Ado About A Friar
MRS. DERVLA QUIGLEY, perpetual widow of James Ignatius Quigley, was the self-proclaimed arbiter of all that was decent and holy in the coastal village of Ballinacroagh.
By no sheer accident was her place of inhabitance situated over the Reek Relics shop, a musty amalgamation of cruciﬁxes, laminated prayer cards, bottled holy water, and any paraphernalia pertaining to Saint Patrick. The dark apartment she shared with her spinster sister afforded Dervla a steady view of Main Mall, a crooked, cobbled main street that, despite all her efforts, had been greatly altered in the last year and a half.
There was a time, Dervla bitterly recalled, when a respectable citizen could sit by her bedroom window and not be battered by the smells of strange lands; a day when the only problem confronting decent folk was whether they should take an umbrella on the way out or brave unprotected the cold, pricking rain that plagued the western plains of Ireland eleven out of twelve months.
But then, that was before those three in that cafŽ came along.
Casting her rheumy eyes out onto Main Mall, Dervla settled her gaze on the squat stone building across the street. Its bright red door and purple shutters were closed, but it was nearly half past six in the morning, and as Dervla knew quite well by now, they would soon be opened for another day of business.
Another day of enduring the licentious smells of strange spices, the heady vapor of dishes that drew regular crowds of gluttons to the cafe's windows and had prompted The Connaught Telegraph to declare it County Mayo's Best Kept Secret, a title that still eluded Dervla’s caustic sensibilities.
“Divine” and “delicious” were how some had praised the food served behind that crimson door, but she was rather more inclined toward the sobering adjectives debased and “detrimental” to describe the goings-on of the Babylon Cafe.
During weekly meetings of Ballinacroagh's Bible study group, held conveniently downstairs in the religious relics shop, Dervla Quigley was quick to remind her fellow members of the dangers of the Eastern-ﬂavored eatery: Let's not forget who was behind Thomas McGuire’s tragic accident, she would hiss, turning a portentous eye on the assembly of cobwebbed spinsters and whiskery matrons. Drove the poor man to near ruin, Dervla would say, referring to the colossal heart attack that had struck Thomas dead for a whole minute in the cafe.
As the proud proprietor of Ballinacroagh's three smoky pubs, a title that also qualiﬁed him as its most successful businessman, Thomas McGuire had kept a tight rein on the village's thin, and often precarious, economy. A workhorse of boundless stamina, he was rarely seen indulging in the drunken frivolities that passed as craic, or entertainment, in the small country town.
But for the heated caresses of his rotund wife, Cecilia, who enjoyed a nymphomania of epic proportions, Thomas had been a man devoted to the humorless world of stocktaking, proﬁt margins, and the legalized peddling of Ireland's favorite imbibed brew-thick, luscious stout. There were few who could have guessed, then, the fanciful desires that lurked in the bar owner’s congested heart.
Not even Dervla Quigley, Ballinacroagh's most scrupulous rumo
The arrival of a mysterious young woman in possession of a dark secret who has literally washed onto Ballinacroagh's shores has a profound impact on the lives of the inhabitants of the quaint Irish town, including the three Aminpour sisters, each of whom is going through her own transformation, in the sequel to Pomegranate Soup. Original. 25,000 first printing.
“Mehran’s novel delights the senses on every page. The story pulses with life as three Iranian sisters struggle to make sense of matters of the heart and the spirit.”
–Elizabeth Cox, author of The Slow Moon
More than a year has passed since Marjan, Bahar, and Layla, the beautiful Iranian Aminpour sisters, sought refuge in the quaint Irish town of Ballinacroagh. Opening the beguiling Babylon Café, they charmed the locals with their warm hearts and delectable Persian cuisine, bringing a saffron-scented spice to the once-sleepy village.
But when a young woman with a dark secret literally washes up on Clew Bay Beach, the sisters’ world is once again turned upside down. With pale skin and webbed hands, the girl is otherworldly, but her wounds tell a more earthly (and graver) story–one that sends the strict Catholic town into an uproar. The Aminpours rally around the newcomer, but each sister must also contend with her own transformation–Marjan tests her feelings for love with a dashing writer, Bahar takes on a new spiritual commitment with the help of Father Mahoney, and Layla matures into a young woman when she and her boyfriend, Malachy, step up their hot and heavy relationship.
Filled with mouthwatering recipes and enchanting details of life in Ireland, Rosewater and Soda Bread is infused with a lyrical warmth that radiates from the Aminpour family and their big-hearted Italian landlady, Estelle, to the whole of Ballinacroagh–and the world beyond.
Praise for Marsha Mehran’s Pomegranate Soup
“A mouthwatering tale with flavors of Chocolat and Under the Tuscan Sun . . . sinfully sweet and satisfying.”
“Glorious, daring, and delightful, filled with humor, hope, and possibility.”
–Adriana Trigiani, author of the Big Stone Gap novels
“An enchanting tale of love, family, and renewal.”
–Firoozeh Dumas, author of Laughing Without an Accent
About the Author
Born in Tehran, Iran, Marsha Mehran escaped the Revolution with her family. She has since lived in such diverse places as Buenos Aires, The United States, Australia and Ireland. Her first novel, Pomegranate Soup was an international bestseller. She lives in New York, where she is busy spinning more tales.
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