From TLC book tours:
Enchanted by the movies she watched while growing up in affluent Tehran in the 1950s and ’60s, Shohreh Aghdashloo dreamed of becoming an actress despite her parents’ more practical plans. When she fell in love and married her husband, Aydin, a painter twelve years her senior, she made him promise he’d allow her to follow her passion.
The first years of her marriage were magical. As Shohreh began to build a promising career, Aydin worked at the royal offices as an art director while exhibiting his paintings in Tehran. But in 1979 revolution swept Iran, toppling the Shah and installing an Islamic republic under the Ayatollah Khomeini. Alarmed by the stifling new restrictions on women and art, Shohreh made the bold and dangerous decision to escape the new regime and her home country. Leaving her family and the man she loved behind, she fled in a covert journey to Europe and eventually to Los Angeles.
In this moving, deeply personal memoir, Shohreh shares her story: it is a tale of privilege and affluence, pain and prejudice, tenacity and success. She writes poignantly about her struggles as an outsider in a for- eign culture—as a woman, a Muslim, and an Iranian—adapting to a new land and a new language. She shares behind-the-scenes stories about what it’s really like to be a Hollywood actress—including being snubbed by two of Tinseltown’s biggest names on Oscar night.
Pages: 288 Hardcover
Publisher: Harper (June 4, 2013)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Source: Received copy for participation in TLC book tour
Date Completed: July 10, 2013
When I was asked to read and review Shohreh Aghdashloo's memoir, The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines, I was very excited. In particular, I was looking forward to reading an account of an actress of color who is also an immigrant managing the American film industry. I first remember seeing her in the movie House of Sand and Fog which I enjoyed.
The first chapter of the book drew me in; reading about the Oscar night prep and experience was fun. Her experience with Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger showed that not everyone can be gracious at all times. In spite of that knowledge, I was annoyed that they did not even smile or nod at Aghdashloo. For the record, I did not enjoy Cold Mountain and would have preferred if Aghdashloo had won.
Anyway, I loved the lyrical descriptions of Iran and her childhood. The description of her family and the ways she tried to hide her modeling from her dad made me smile. Her courtship and marriage to her first husband was sweet. Some of the political events in Iran made my jaw drop. Some of the chapters were choppy and I found myself wanting more details of the specifics of how she became involved in the demonstrations. The pace of the book made it seem like her decision to leave Iran was sudden. The way she came to her decision to divorce her husband was also surprising and sad.
I also wanted more details on her breaking into the Hollywood scene. In particular, I wanted to learn more about her transition from performing to mostly Iranian audience to a broader base. From other things I have read and heard, I know that there is a tendency to type cast women of color. I was hoping to get more of Aghdashloo's perspective on finding substantive roles and balancing acting with her passion for politics.
More tour information can be found here.