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BOOK CLUB BUNDLES

Hi, I’m Lauren. The Library will provide books for your book club. Our book club bundles include 10 copies of the same title, along with a discussion guide. Check out available bundles when visiting the Library, or fill out the form below! Patrons can reserve book club bundles up to six months in advance. Our book club bundles are stored on the second floor for the public to browse and check out. Contact us at bookclub@gpld.org or call us at 630-232-0780 if you have questions.



The Stationery Shop

by Marjan Kamali

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Romance

A sweeping tale of thwarted love set against the backdrop of political unrest in 1953 Tehran. When Roya meets Bahman in a charming stationery shop, it is love at first sight. But when Bahman goes missing on the eve of their wedding, Roya is forced to move on with her life without him. Many years later, the two meet again, and Bahman reveals secrets he has kept hidden for years.

Download Discussion Guide

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author biography

Marjan Kamali, born in Turkey to Iranian parents, spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran, and the United States. She studied English Literature at UC Berkeley and received her MBA from Columbia University and her MFA from New York University. She is the author of two novels: The Stationery Shop (Gallery/Simon&Schuster) and Together Tea (Ecco/HarperCollins).

The Stationery Shop, a Boston Globe best-seller, was a Real Simple magazine Top Editor’s Pick, an Indie Next Pick, one of Newsweek’s 30 Best Summer Books, and an excerpt was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. It is being translated into several languages.

Marjan’s debut novel, Together Tea, was a Massachusetts Book Award Finalist, an NPR WBUR Good Read, and a Target Emerging Author Selection and has been translated into several languages and adapted for the stage.

Marjan’s work has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in two anthologies.

Marjan teaches writing at GrubStreet and lives with her husband and two children in the Boston area.  - Author's website

More titles by this author.

reviews

Publisher's Weekly

In this tender story of lifelong love, Kamali (Together Tea) moves from 2013 New England to violence in 1953 Tehran as citizens, a new Prime Minister, and the Shah of Iran clash. In 2013, Roya is 77 years old, nearing the end of her life with her American husband, when she discovers her fiancé from when she was growing up in Tehran is living in a retirement home nearby. She begins to relive her first meeting with young Bahman 60 years earlier in a small Tehran stationery shop. As is true with Roya’s father, Bahman is an avid supporter of the new Prime Minister Mossadegh, but Bahman takes it further with dangerous activism. The love that blossoms between the two 17-year-olds is intense and true, but Bahman’s mother is determined to direct her son’s interests away from Roya. It’s only with the help of Mr. Fahkri, who allows the young lovers privacy in his stationery shop, that the romance continues until a final misunderstanding; the couple is separated by expectations that they enter arranged marriages, as well as the violence that erupts in the streets when Mossadegh is overthrown. The loss of love and changing worlds is vividly captured by Kamali; time and circumstances kept these lovers apart, but nothing diminishes their connection. Readers will be swept away. (June) --Staff (Reviewed 08/05/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 31, p).

Library Journal

Roya Kayhani meets Bahman Aslan in a stationery shop in Tehran in 1953; both are 17. The owner, Mr. Fakhri, dispenses foreign-language books as well as antimonarchist polemics along with the poetry of Rumi. Sharing the poetry and letters passed between them by Mr. Fakhri inside the books, the couple fall in love and become engaged. Iran is moving toward democracy and modernization in 1953, but a coup by the forces of the Shah shuts down those hopes. Now, 60 years later, Roya is married to Walter Archer and lives outside Boston; Bahman is in a nursing home not far away. What happened to their love and the future of their country? Slowly moving through the budding love story, readers unearth secrets about those close to the pair and how, as Iranian belief dictates, one's destiny is already inscribed on one's forehead at birth. VERDICT The unfurling stories in Kamali's sophomore novel (after Together Tea) will stun readers as the aromas of Persian cooking wafting throughout convince us that love can last a lifetime. For those who enjoy getting caught up in romance while discovering unfamiliar history of another country. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.] --Bette-Lee Fox (Reviewed 04/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 3, p80).

Kirkus Reviews

Sixty years after her first love failed to meet her in a market square, Roya Khanom Archer finally has the chance to see him. But will he break her heart again? Back in 1953, she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl, raised in a progressive home in Tehran, where her father encouraged Roya and her sister, Zari, to take advantage of the recent reforms that allowed women to go to university. While he hoped she might become a chemist, Roya loved escaping into novels, which sent her to Mr. Fakhri's stationery and book store every Tuesday afternoon. There she first sees Bahman Aslan, a breathless young man already well-known as a political activist. Kamali (Together Tea, 2013) sets Roya and Bahman's love against the tumultuous days of Mohammad Mossadegh's rise and fall as prime minister of Iran, infusing their affair with political passion and an increasingly frantic sense of the shortness of time. Tuesday after Tuesday, the couple falls more deeply in love, and Bahman soon proposes marriage to Roya. While Roya's family welcomes Bahman—although Zari warns Roya that his heart cannot be trusted—Bahman's emotionally volatile mother refuses to accept the engagement, because she has already chosen Shahla, the daughter of a man closely allied with the shah, for her son. Roya determines to weather her future mother-in-law's storms, but when Bahman and his family disappear, she can only turn to Mr. Fakhri for help. Although he cannot tell Roya where Bahman has gone, Mr. Fakhri offers to exchange secret letters between the lovers. The plan works, and the two even plan to elope, but Bahman does not show up in Sepah Square. Sixty years later, Bahman's confession will finally expose the secrets that cast shadows over the lovers so long ago. A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love. (Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2019).

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