Featured Official Review: The Buried Secrets of Peonies

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NL Hartje
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Featured Official Review: The Buried Secrets of Peonies

Post by NL Hartje » 26 Feb 2018, 12:02

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Buried Secrets of Peonies" by Mernegar Dorgoly.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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In the late summer and early fall of 1988, over 4,500 Iranian political prisoners were massacred by the government of Iran. For not supporting the new regime of 1979, opponents of the new theocratic government were imprisoned, questioned, tortured and in 1988-murdered. To put this in perspective, one might compare this to the current American presidency executing voters who still supported the losing candidate. It is easily understood why this event would have caused uproar well into the 1990’s. What is difficult to understand, however, is why this butchery has never been acknowledged by the Iranian government or its supreme leader. It is guessed that because of the massive cover-up orchestrated by the supreme leader and his regime, the number of murdered citizens is closer to 30,000.

Approaching the 30th anniversary of this monstrosity, The Buried Secrets of Peonies by Mernegar Dorgoly sheds light on the emotional turmoil planted that summer in 1988 Iran and still festering in the hearts of its people today. The author reminisces about childhood when her mother would tell fantastic stories to keep her from recognizing the dark reality of their lives. Now an adult who has emigrated out of Iran, she translates for us a sampling of story-like letters she wrote for her parents to put words to the unspoken anguish.

The eight short stories found in the book offer glimpses into the lives of those affected by the massacre. Each is a breathtaking foray into the depths of the human heart. Each is shockingly gut-wrenching. Her stories follow prisoners waiting with hope for a release that will never come, a wife’s agonizing realization that her husband has been abducted, a daughter recognizing the awful truth of her parent’s deaths many years later, and excruciatingly-five more.

What is commendable about Dorgoly’s work is that all sides of the tragedy are captured, even that of the executioner. All faces of pain are laid bare in this book. The stunningly demonstrative use of metaphor leaves readers in bewildered silence as they experience the griefs of this tragedy. My favorite part about this book was the writing itself. It isn’t often that I am surprised by an author, and I can honestly say the strength and emotion in Dorgoly’s words both surprised and moved me.

If there were something I didn’t like about the book, it would have to be the brevity of each story. As I read, I wanted to know more, hear more, feel more. Each story was presented as if it were a polaroid capturing that one harrowing moment where a person’s soul is stripped of all its meaning. I suggest this book for any mature reader. Its contents are too intense to make any real landing on an undeveloped mind but packs more than a punch for those who have learned to live. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars and earnestly hope that Dorgoly’s words bring peace to those still suffering.

******
The Buried Secrets of Peonies
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Post by Sarah Tariq » 27 Feb 2018, 00:15

Such historical tragedies require great depth of impartial research and investigation, which is rare in today's world. It's good that the author has covered all sides of the aspect. Thanks for your comprehensive review.
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Post by NL Hartje » 27 Feb 2018, 01:27

Sarah Tariq wrote:
27 Feb 2018, 00:15
It's good that the author has covered all sides of the aspect.
I agree! It was one of the many pleasant surprises in this book! :D
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Post by kandscreeley » 27 Feb 2018, 08:24

Wow! This sounds quite powerful. I have not heard about the massacre that took place and would be interested to see how it affected these families. I can't even imagine! I'll look into this one. Thanks so much!
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Post by ashley_claire » 27 Feb 2018, 09:45

I am also ignorant to the circumstances surrounding this book. I can't even imagine the horror they faced, but it sounds like the author did a wonderful job capturing the emotions and translating them to paper.

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 27 Feb 2018, 20:30

I have heard of a quote: "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" I think this says of that. Not only in Iran certain crimes do take place that goes unpunished in other regions as well. I like the emotional touch by the author she certainly knows how to draw the audience by effective use of "pothos". This book seem to have the power to move people and I understand the writing style is exceptional. I would love to read a book that would rock my world. Thank you for this great review!
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Post by prettysmart » 27 Feb 2018, 20:42

Well you know what they say, "you go to Rome, you do what the Romans do", even though I didn't uphold with the inhumane actions against the prisoners who "disobeyed". Great Review!

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Post by Spirit Wandering » 27 Feb 2018, 21:08

Wow, I would have never expected the book's plot based on it's intriguing title. Great review!
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Post by NL Hartje » 27 Feb 2018, 23:21

kandscreeley wrote:
27 Feb 2018, 08:24
Wow! This sounds quite powerful. I have not heard about the massacre
It really was. I felt like the intensity built when I read it. I didn't feel a huge emotional pull in the first two stories but then as it continued and I started understanding the scope, I realized there was more emotion in the beginning than I originally attributed.

Also, I felt like a huge "western boob" for not knowing about this tragedy either. :cry2:
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Post by NL Hartje » 27 Feb 2018, 23:22

ashley_claire wrote:
27 Feb 2018, 09:45
I am also ignorant to the circumstances surrounding this book.
I felt so ignorant as I researched and found how impactful it was (and is). :cry2:
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Post by NL Hartje » 27 Feb 2018, 23:25

Sahani Nimandra wrote:
27 Feb 2018, 20:30
I have heard of a quote: "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" I think this says of that. Not only in Iran certain crimes do take place that goes unpunished in other regions as well. I like the emotional touch by the author she certainly knows how to draw the audience by effective use of "pothos".
It does seem that way, doesn't it? Certainly a wakeup call for me to count my blessings.

And yes, her pathos is remarkable.
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Post by NL Hartje » 27 Feb 2018, 23:26

prettysmart wrote:
27 Feb 2018, 20:42
Well you know what they say, "you go to Rome, you do what the Romans do", even though I didn't uphold with the inhumane actions against the prisoners who "disobeyed". Great Review!
Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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Post by NL Hartje » 27 Feb 2018, 23:27

Spirit Wandering wrote:
27 Feb 2018, 21:08
Wow, I would have never expected the book's plot based on it's intriguing title.
I agree. The author uses symbolism and metaphor to put a focus on inanimate objects in order to highlight the emotional changes around them. For example, in the first story prisoners plant peonies in the garden plot outside their cells as a way to cling to hope. (That is the only story referencing flowers though.)
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Post by Kat Berg » 03 Mar 2018, 22:53

Wow, I had completely forgotten about hearing little snippets about this on the news when it happened. The numbers are absolutely staggering. This would be a very hard read for me. Worth it, but very hard.

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Post by NL Hartje » 04 Mar 2018, 02:00

Kat Berg wrote:
03 Mar 2018, 22:53
Wow, I had completely forgotten about hearing little snippets about this on the news when it happened. The numbers are absolutely staggering. This would be a very hard read for me. Worth it, but very hard.
Definitely hard. I'm not too proud to admit I teared up during the last chapter, and that is VERY out of character for me.
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