Review: The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan

I found The Girl from the Garden to be an at times engrossing at other times frustrating novel. The glimpse into the lives of a Jewish family in Iran in the early parts of the 20th century is captivating: fear, obsession, jealousy, loyalty, faith and violence all mix together in the cloistered environment of the family enclave. It is a glimpse into a seemingly lost world full of mystery and joy, tragedy and love, faith and superstition.

But the jumping back and forth in time and the complex way this is narrated undermines much of the story. Whenever the story comes back to the present it slows down and loses its punch. The flashbacks carry all the power.

An interesting and promising debut novel but one I am of mixed feelings about.

My Goodreads rating: 3 of 5 stars (View all my Goodread reviews)

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. But Kevin, the point was to disorient you, to allow you to feel the slowing down of time, the loss of identity, the total obliteration of self- after all, the narrator is going through dementia, for pete’s sake. And that says something about the entirety of the story, as the prologue indicates, too- that history, the telling of it, is subject to the fallibility of memory.
    But if you didn’t see this, and so many other readers failed to notice this point, then I guess it’s back to the drawing board. I’m glad you enjoyed the parts you did enjoy.

    1. Hmm, I guess I didn’t connect those aspects in quite that way. Perhaps I Was impatient and failed to slow down enough to see how it all connected (wouldn’t be the first time). I did really enjoy the story and am glad I read the book.

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