Historical fiction

In the Palace of Flowers by Victoria Princewill

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When I started this book, I was dropped right into an opulent world where the darker emotions are more prevalent than happier ones. Every relationship is fraught with undercurrents. This is the Shah’s harem in Persia. At the end of the book, the author actually provided a poem by the real slave that the story is based on, and this adds an additional aura to the narration.
That said, I did not enjoy it. There were many political intrigues, and I learnt a lot about certain practices of the time that I would have otherwise no knowledge of. Despite all of that, the individual characters in this particular glimpse of the court did not seem to play out in any particular way. There are a lot of sections, one to do with the workings of the Harem/queens/concubines, another with the preferences of the people in the court and finally slaves and what life meant for all of them. Each section seemed historically significant but, as a story, did not come together. I am in the minority with regards to my reactions to the book, given the glowing reviews. It is just that to bolster my mood after reading the harrowing realities of the time, I wanted a plotline to go with it, and I did not think I got that from this book.
The author has put significant time and effort into bringing to life the history of the palace and the country’s politics, and it shows up well. It was just not the right book for me. I would recommend it to historical fiction readers looking for a new country/time to try as long as they are comfortable with darker overtones.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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