Review: During the Reign of the Queen of Persia

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I don’t really know how to review this book because I don’t know how to evaluate it. For example, I can’t even really pinpoint the climax. Was it one of the several character deaths? When Gram sold the property? The attempted suicide? The fire? I really don’t know.

The story isn’t even linear. It begins after a major event, that is later retold about 3/4ths into the novel, then ends after the beginning. So the timeline is all over the place.

Was it interesting? Fairly. Some of the characters really came alive; the setting was vivid. Lots of interesting events happened. The writing was beautiful.

But what was the point of the novel?

The preamble before the book in my edition talks about the titular Queen of Persia (the matriarch grandmother) and also about the fever dream of childhood summers. I guess you could pinpoint those, but I didn’t really get much of a sense of either of those. The book is collectively narrated by 4 cousins, two sets of sisters, as the “we”. But not only do they describe things it was unlikely for them to know (for example, Gram’s early marriage to Grandad and their sex life), but they step back and describe some cousins as apart from and yet together with the “we”. If narrating as a collective, that collection should be fixed. Instead, the people in the “we” keep changing to suit the story.

Finally, the ending is pretty abrupt and unsatisfactory. Although since I can’t pinpoint a protagonist or a climax, I’m not sure what kind of ending could possibly work. The best way I can describe this novel is as a beautiful road to nowhere.

3 stars.

This book fulfills the female author, came out in the year you were born, and an author you’ve never read before requirements for the challenge.

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