The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
This novel follows the fate of a young woman (she's 14, but considering that she's considered old enough to marry, I think woman is more fitting than girl) in 17th century Iran (the author specifically says 1620s). The narrator is unnamed, though everyone else in the novel is not. In the beginning of the novel, the woman's father dies, and she and her mother discover the fate of women when the man of the house dies and there are no close living relatives. While they weren't poor to begin with, they were definitely working class, and with the father's death, it is hard for them to support themselves. Without a dowry, the narrator's marriage options are slim to none, and as a woman in this time period, there weren't many other choices. Fortunately, a rich but distant relative in the city takes them in, which allows the narrator to expand on her natural skills at carpet making. There is of course family drama, things get better only to get worse, the narrator learns about friendship, betrayal and sex, and the descriptions of carpets and carpet making are actually interesting. The author also intersperses older folk tales and fairy tales into her novel which illuminate certain themes of the story and draw parallels to the characters' lives. I've actually had this novel sitting in my apartment for a while but just never got around to reading it. The main reason for that was the format of the book itself - I'd picked it up in the PX in Iraq so instead of being a larger sized paperback, it's one of the small ones, like a James Patterson novel, for example. I prefer the feel of the taller, slimmer books to the short ones. I know, I'm weird, it's the words and the story that actually matter. Once I got started, it was easy to become immersed in this novel regardless of the formatting.