On Loving

A Novel

Romance - General
584 Pages
Reviewed on 04/28/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

On Loving is a work of fiction in the romance and drama sub-genres and was penned by author Lili Naghdi. Cross-cultural and powerfully emotive from the get-go, this novel begins in 1972 and takes us through the tumultuous life of protagonist Dr. Rose Hemmings. Encouraged by the blessing of her adopted father, Rose travels and explores Iran to uncover her Persian heritage, and there she finds a man who loves her with a passion she’s never known. The problem is, Rose already feels deeply connected with another man back in New York City, one whom tragedy brought to her and whom she feels her life will never be separate from.

This is a work that swallows you whole into its deep tapestry of cultural beauty, making you think about love, companionship and the human need for closeness from entirely new angles and viewpoints. In the story itself, Rose is a well-developed figure who gives us confidence as she heads out to explore her heritage, only to be very emotively shaken by what she finds. These peaks and troughs of emotion are brought to life consistently and realistically in author Lili Naghdi’s prose, weaving a plot which brings romantic turmoil to the fore alongside important issues of mental and physical health. On top of this is the conceptual layer with its poignant philosophy and the uncovering of the mythologies of love, which is the part that really stays with you long after you close the book. On Loving is a highly accomplished and recommended romance read.

Rabia Tanveer

On Loving: A Novel by Lili Naghdi is the story of a woman as she travels to the other side of the world and discovers that life has many beautiful gifts to offer. Rose Hemmings is alone in the world. She finished school and her general surgery residency, but with the death of her adoptive father, she is left floundering. She travels to Iran where she was born and finds a whole new world. She wants a family to love and be loved and she finds exactly that. She also finds that she is an heiress and soon, she realizes that this is a place where she feels the happiest. To make this place even more attractive, there is a man who loves her and is willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy. But she can’t stay here forever. She has a life in the USA and a career she worked hard for. Now she has to decide where she belongs.

On Loving: A Novel by Lili Naghdi is more than a romance novel. Rose is a wholesome character; she is real, believable and relatable. You will find yourself thinking of Rose as a friend as the story progresses. She is just trying to find a place in the world for herself where she belongs. Since she was alone, she was looking for a family and she found that in Iran. But her story is also very emotional and sensitive. I enjoyed her responses, how she grew and adapted. She never once thought of giving up. She was determined to live her life on her own terms, even if it meant she had to make some tough decisions. The narrative is exceptionally immersive; it is fast-paced yet gives you a lot of breathing space to get lost in Rose’s journey of self-discovery and love.

Christian Sia

On Loving: A Novel by Lili Naghdi is a romance for readers who enjoy stories that are multilayered with complex characters. With an international setting in 1972 New York and the period before the Iranian revolution, the story follows a woman torn between two men and explores the conflict between loyalty and desire. Dr. Rose Hemmings has just completed her residency in general surgery when a man is shot in front of her in Jen’s Bar in New York. Dean is intriguing, handsome, and with few stab-wound scars on his body. Their lives become linked in ways Rose never imagined. When her adoptive father allows her to travel to Iran, she uncovers secrets about her roots and shocking truths as well. It is here that she rediscovers her family and people and a man who loves her so deeply it hurts. When she goes back to the US, can life ever be the same again, and what about the love she left behind?

On Loving: A Novel is a novel that expertly explores the nuances of love and asks the question: Can one woman truly and equally love two men at the same time? The author develops a powerful conflict, allowing readers to feel the heart of the protagonist. Many readers will identify with Rose and why it is hard for her to choose. The setting is well-written - from the busy streets of an evening in New York to the nomadic alleys in Iran, the images are beautifully captured. The writing is crisp, evocative, and delectable. Lili Naghdi makes readers fall in love with her characters. A delightful and gorgeous read!

Romuald Dzemo

On Loving: A Novel by Lili Naghdi is a character-driven romance that follows the journey of Dr. Rose Hemmings as she navigates love fraught with challenges. She first encounters Dean Taylor, a man who gets shot in front of her, in a bar in New York City. Taking care of him leads to a strong connection between the two. But what secrets does he harbor and why would someone want him dead? Having grown up in New York City, Rose has the chance to return to her native Iran. It is in Iran that she learns about being an heiress and her roots. But there is more; a man loves her very deeply. Now, she finds herself in a very painful dilemma — choosing between two loves. One makes her feel secure and the other awakens strong emotions in her.

This is a well-written romance and I enjoyed the author’s handling of the setting and how she allows the elements of the cultures to come alive in the writing. There are very emotional and dramatic moments, like the shooting at the opening of the story and the discovery of Queen Soraya, who happened to be the protagonist’s distant relative. The connection between them is strong and as the protagonist digs into her memory, she can recall the beauty of her childhood. There is a unique lyricism running through the narrative and the first-person voice succinctly captures the point of view of the protagonist. The writing is insightful and there are strong references to culture and Iranian poetry. A powerful line to ponder is: “In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away...” On Loving: A Novel is gripping and delightful. The characters actually come alive on the pages.

Asher Syed

On Loving by Lili Naghdi is a work of historical literary romance fiction that encompasses the life of a single doctor who has lost her beloved father. To further complicate matters, Dr. Rose Hemmings becomes entangled in a violent brawl, and the victim is nursed by Rose in an event that begins to thread through every fiber of her soul. The narrative moves back and forth between Rose's past and the memories that are often evoked through seemingly innocuous moments. She follows these premonitions and the genealogical links to Iran, where she discovers more about herself, her past, and her destiny...without knowing which path and which man is meant to walk alongside her on it.

On Loving is a beautifully written novel that dances between two worlds and, really, two completely separate identities, as Lili Naghdi builds a character-driven story of one woman. The prose often feels almost poetic, balanced out with authentic, witty dialogue that pulls the first-person narrative together brilliantly. I love that the protagonist is a smart, articulate, and independent woman, forging her own way forward. Naghdi is a master of description, bringing to life the places Rose wanders, as well as the people who dwell in those places; Dean and Siyavash in particular. The literary references within the story and the sprinkling of poetry are also a nice touch. This book will do exceptionally well among readers who have enjoyed the likes of Amie Ali, Sejal Badani, and Amy Tan, particularly in how it carefully depicts the fragile, complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and the men those daughters choose for themselves. Very highly recommended.