Susan’s Book Talk: Veil of Roses


I’ve got a confession to make. While reading my book club’s latest selection, Laura Fitzgerald’s Veil of Roses, I got SO crazy with what was going on that …

I skipped to the end of the book to see what happened.

Yep. I peeked. I cheated. I couldn’t take being left to dangle in the story. I couldn’t trust the author to take me — and her characters — in the direction I really wanted them to go.

I haven’t done this in years.

Oh, sometimes I’ll look at the last sentence, or the last page — usually if I’m bored for some reason. Sometimes, I’ll keep referring to that last page to get the final number of pages in the book, and sometimes, I’ll catch a sentence here or there. I try to avoid anything that’ll give the ending away.

Not this time. I HAD to know. So… I peeked. Knowing the outcome took the edge away; you know that edge, the one where you can’t stand not knowing if the Happily Ever After is going to come or not. The one that actually hurts and keeps you from reading. Instead, you skim and, in this case, miss out on some incredibly poignant writing. I couldn’t let myself do that. I had to absorb all of this book.

I’ve spent a lot of time the past few days trying to figure out why I had to do this. Why the temptation to look was so absolutely overriding. And this is what I came up with:

Fitzgerald’s protagonist, Tami, comes from Iran. She’s been repressed and she knows it. Coming to America is her chance to escape all that, to reconnect with the fuzzy memories of the time her family spent here when she was young. She comes seeking the answers of who her mother had been back then, a woman who wore a pink bikini. The mother Tami knows… she can’t wear things like pink bikinis. And if she could, Tami’s not sure she would. Who is this mother in the picture? Tami needs to know.

Tami feels the pain of her repression. She says things like “Freedom means not even being aware you’re free” (p. 62). and “Feeling the sun on one’s body should be a basic human right afforded to all” (p. 185).

Such sweet sentences. Poignant. Piercing. Holding a weight of truth beyond much of anything I’ve read of late.

This is a woman who is fully aware of the horrors of the life she lives. When she doesn’t understand a free sample at Starbucks and coincidentally a pair of cops show up to feed their addiction, she panics, convinced she’s going to be arrested. Time and again, she compares the ease of life in America with the repression in Iran.

Her scars from this lifestyle, if one can call it that, are palpable. And Tami is so very likeable, we want to see her rise above this repression she came from. We need her to. This isn’t merely a story of a woman coming to America to find a husband. (In fact, when the idea of mail-order brides is raised, it’s quickly dropped.)

No, this is a story of good versus evil. Of the freedoms of democracy versus the evil oppressors of the world.

No wonder I had to peek.

(Stupid FTC shit since I suppose this is a review: I got this book through so my book club can read it. I had no intentions of doing anything other than discussing it with those great ladies and adding it to the list of books we’ve read on the HBC page here. But the book demanded some exposure here on the Meet and Greet, and I’m all too glad to provide it. Oh, yeah. The buy links here and elsewhere on West of Mars? They all go to so I can hopefully make a few bucks and buy books to give away. To you guys. My readers, not the FTC, who ought to read this book.)

(Another side note: I usually agree with Publisher’s Weekly reviews. That’s why I read them. However, I don’t agree that this book has a disposable plot — because for me, the plot becomes secondary to what’s really going on. I’m disappointed the reviewer couldn’t see that.)



  1. Rene

    October 17, 2009 12:01 pm

    Great review. I would never have thought to pick up this book. I’ll keep an eye out for it.
    .-= Rene´s last blog ..Body Image =-.

  2. Laura @ ImBookingIt

    October 17, 2009 12:21 pm

    The book sounds great, but your timing is terrible 🙂 ! I think one of my book clubs would love it, but we’re voting on our next set of books NOW, and I won’t get a chance to suggest it for another 6 months or so.

    I’ve added it to my list of books to read. Thanks for the review.
    .-= Laura @ ImBookingIt´s last blog ..Review: Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell =-.

  3. Thomma Lyn

    October 17, 2009 8:23 pm

    Wow, excellent and thought-provoking review. Veil of Roses sounds like a great read, and I’m going to put it on my wish list.
    .-= Thomma Lyn´s last blog ..Working Hard =-.

  4. Shelley Munro

    October 18, 2009 4:05 am

    Do you know I don’t think I’ve ever read the end of a book first. A book that grabs you like this has to be excellent. Veil of Roses sounds like a really emotional read.
    .-= Shelley Munro´s last blog ..Ningaloo Nights with Tracy Cooper-Posey =-.

  5. Laura Fitzgerald

    October 19, 2009 9:26 am

    Susan! You skipped ahead to the end!?!?!?!? Bad girl. 🙂

    Thanks for this great review. You’ll be happy to know a sequel is in the works for sometime next year and deals with what comes after Tami’s alleged Happy Ever After.

    Best, Laura

  6. Wylie Kinson

    October 19, 2009 9:35 am

    Sounds like a powerful book, Susan, and I can’t say I blame you for reading the end (not that I would ever, oh no, could’t do *wink*)

    I liked this line “Freedom means not even being aware you’re free” Wow – well said! Should be on a billboard somewhere.

    Have you read Brick Road by Monica… Monica… dang – can’t remember her last name, but your review of Veil of Roses brought it to mind… the theme of immigrant struggle with new freedoms, etc.

  7. carol

    October 20, 2009 12:30 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful book. I have to admit I’m a peeker. If I really care about the characters, I can’t stand the suspense. If I couldn’t care less, I want to see if it’s worth making my way through the whole thing.

  8. Alice Audrey

    October 26, 2009 11:15 am

    Maybe the FTC should read this book. 🙂

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