A woman I don't know recommended this at our last book group, and since it was about Persia I wanted to read it since I was probably the only person in the room who cares about Central Asia. After I got it from the library and quickly read a few reviews, I didn't think I'd like it much, but decided to try it anyway.
And I liked it. It wasn't amazing, but it definitely was better than I thought it would be. One of the things I hate most about a lot of historical fiction is that the main character always seems like she is plucked out of the 21st- (or whatever the modern time is) century and dropped into a new time and place with little understanding of the culture or the history or anything. Even when the author says she's done a lot of research to write the book, the characters just don't work. This book wasn't perfect in this regard, but it was much better than a lot of historical fiction. The main character (whose name we never know) doesn't feel completely out of place. She's reasonably believable.
And she's not even necessarily likeable. In fact, she seems like a teenager in the book, which she is. She makes some foolish decisions that have a negative impact on her family. Things don't work out beautifully for her, or as she planned, but she ends up happy with what she was able to do. But the misfortune isn't heaped on either, and some of the unusual bits about Persian society, especially the sigheh, were handled well.
A pleasant surprise.