Alley of Scented Roses

Fiction - Womens
288 Pages
Reviewed on 03/20/2024
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I was not lucky to be born to highly educated, cultured parents surrounded by books, arts, and music. I was born to illiterate parents in a small mud brick house in a remote, dry town in Iran. My parents were poor and humble but had a fantastic memory for Scheherazade stories, Persian proverbs, and folk poetry, some of which I still remember. I was not a reading nerd with books tucked under my arm or loaded in my backpack, but wandering around on farms and orchids, up hills and mountains with childish imaginations.
My reading journey began at age seventeen, diving into a four-volume Western Philosophy, then rushing to motivational books such as Dale Carnegie’s. I was ignorant, and I needed them. My first novel to read was Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck at nineteen. Reading, writing, and speaking in foreign languages – Spanish and English – has always been challenging, but I have loved and cherished the challenge and the difficulty.
I became aware of my talent for storytelling late in my life when I began to paint seriously at forty-seven. All my artworks are stories, carrying the yearning for writing in words. I began to write late, and late is better than never.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha for Readers' Favorite

Abbas Mehran's Alley of Scented Roses is a fascinating and thought-provoking work that blends satire, society, and compassion with the captivating beauty of Australian flora and the alluring scent of Persian rose attar. The narrative follows Mitra Johnson, a successful writer living in New York with her husband Benjamin. She visits her mother's flower shop in Dandenong, Melbourne, in the Alley of Scented Roses. However, Mitra's real reason for the visit is to help Rana, a childhood friend, escape from an unwanted marriage arranged by her family, as she is already in love with someone else. Amidst the wedding preparations, several events are happening in Mitra's personal life, uncovering tales of friendship, family, trauma, and triumph.

The narrative is intriguing and captivating, revealing the pivotal roles played by the flowers in the storyline. The author effectively portrays Mitra's grief and dilemma when she visits her mother and her conflict regarding her husband's departure, which he tries to set right by asking for forgiveness. Mitra realizes that although people want to help her, no one can truly understand her situation. The story skillfully interweaves exquisite metaphors of flower petals and their fragrance, symbolizing human life and interactions. The author's impressive writing skills and artistic knowledge are evident throughout the narrative. With vivid imagination, the author incorporates an understanding of culture and society into the story. The writing style is balanced, supported by rich vocabulary and a firm hold on the main character's personality. Overall, the story is a poignant reminder of the vitality of relationships and captivates readers with its enchanting plot. Alley of Scented Roses by Abbas Mehran is a highly satisfying read for anyone seeking an excellent novel.

Doreen Chombu

Alley of Scented Roses by Abbas Mehran is a heartwarming story about Mitra Johnson, a woman who travels from New York to Melbourne, Australia to attend her friend's wedding. She keeps two secrets from her mother, Noosha, who owns a flower garden in Australia. The first is that she is suffering from writer's block, and the second is that her husband has left their home due to her constant complaining about her book. Upon reaching Melbourne, Mitra realizes that her friend Rana's wedding is not a consensual union. Rana is in love with someone else, but her mother is forcing her to marry someone she does not love for social status. Mitra decides to help her friend, becomes more courageous through this experience, and gains the inspiration she needs to write again after confronting her mother about the past.

Alley of Scented Roses stands out because Abbas Mehran wrote it as a tribute to his late daughter Marsha Mehran, who was working on her third book before her untimely death. The book explores various aspects of life, including love, family, and friendship, and most of the characters are of Iranian descent, so the book seamlessly incorporates Persian culture and arts into the narrative. The writing style is engaging, with a conversational tone and beautiful floral designs that make it visually appealing to read. The characters in the story share their views on happiness, inspiration, and freedom, making it a book filled with valuable life lessons. I enjoyed reading this book which is why I recommend it to anyone looking for an inspiring story with relatable characters.

Risah Salazar

In Alley of Scented Roses by Abbas Mehran, Mitra Johnson travels from New York to Melbourne to reunite with her mom, Noosha, and to attend a friend’s wedding. Mitra works as a writer, while her husband, Benjamin, is a web designer. Recently, their marriage and social life have been greatly affected by Mitra’s writer’s block. Despite Benjamin’s support, she finds herself suffering in front of her screen daily, neglecting to take a break. Eventually, Benjamin left. Noosha owns a flower shop and garden named the Alley of Scented Roses, reminiscent of her family's garden in Kashan. Now in Melbourne, she manages it with the help of her friends: Boshra, Narguess, Bibi, Laleh, and Pari. With her mom and these nosy friends around her, Mitra faces the challenge of explaining what’s happening in her life. It's becoming difficult for Mitra to continue hiding. Meanwhile, Rana, Mitra’s friend, is facing a less-than-ideal wedding situation as she loves another man and asks Mitra for help. Can Mitra, despite her problems, save her friend?

The opening of Alley of Scented Roses resembles the anticipation of watching a movie. As the proverbial curtain rises, it ignites excitement in the audience, offering a glimpse into the life of the protagonist, Mitra, as she enters a taxi. Abbas Mehran skillfully crafts the characters, breathing life into them; their diverse experiences are all relatable. Bibi stands out as a personal favorite with her theatrical personality. The inclusion of flowers goes beyond mere decoration; it is deeply intertwined with the story, adding a touch of magic. The narrative, told from multiple perspectives in the third person, unfolds at a leisurely pace and takes a while to progress. The Alley of Scented Roses delves into the cultural aspect, depicting the lives of Iranians in Melbourne and beyond. Mehran writes with painstaking detail and heartfelt emotion, evoking tenderness in every scene.

Luwi Nyakansaila

To many, Mitra is the epitome of success. She lives in New York with her loving husband, Benjamin, and is a successful author. However, the truth is far from this facade as Mitra has been struggling with writer's block for the past two years. This has caused a rift in her marriage, leading to Benjamin leaving her. She feels lost and hopeless until her childhood friend Rana invites her to Melbourne, Australia, to be her bridesmaid and to help Rana escape her arranged marriage. While there, Mitra reconnects with her mother Noosha, who owns a beautiful rose garden and flower shop where the lively members of the Iranian Australian community normally gather to tell their stories and share invaluable lessons. Through this, Mitra regains her confidence and finds inspiration. Join Mitra on her journey in Alley of Scented Roses by Abbas Mehran, a story about love and truth.

Alley of Scented Roses is a touching story that takes inspiration from the late Marsha Mehran, daughter of Abbas Mehran, who was working on her third book before she passed away. The author pays tribute to Marsha's writing and achievements with a tale of love, friendship, family, and reconciliation, woven with rich themes of Persian culture, history, art, and poetry. The book does a great job of introducing the characters and giving their backgrounds and personalities. I found the relationship between Mitra and her mother Noosha to be the highlight of the story. Despite the strain caused by the secrets they were keeping from each other, their love and respect for one another were admirable. This is a must-read that will inspire many women to live their truth and fight for love. Overall, I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to all readers who will appreciate its valuable lessons.

Zahid Sheikh

Alley of Scented Roses by Abbas Mehran is an enchanting work of women’s fiction that thoughtfully connects the lives of Mitra and her mother Noosha against the background of the Melbourne Persian community. The novel narrates the story of Mitra Johnson, an exceptional writer traveling the path of self-awareness and self-reliance. It begins with Mitra's arrival from New York at her mother Noosha's flower shop in Melbourne, Australia. The story revolves around the themes of identity, family, and self-discovery. Noosha's quest for rose attar, Mitra's challenges in writing, and the intersecting characters showcase the cultural intricacies and complexities of personal challenges like love and independence. As Mitra struggles to discover the mysteries of the past and her mother's secrets, the novel provides a very touching and thought-provoking view of love and resilience.

Abbas Mehran's writing style is vivid and detailed, evoking the smells and sounds of Persian culture. The description of roses is quite appealing and creates a sensory experience I could feel myself. The author skilfully deals with the themes of cultural identity, the struggle for achievement, and the interplay between tradition and modernity. The internal fights of the characters are presented with a delicate touch, which helps provide a realistic understanding of their complexities. The author’s incorporation of Persian customs, family dynamics, and personal progress uplifts the novel. Alley of Scented Roses is an incredible work of literature that depicts the strength and endurance of women, the potency of storytelling, and the beauty of Persian culture.