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From the award-winning author of Together Tea—a debut novel hailed as “compassionate, funny, and wise” by Jill Davis, bestselling author of Girls’ Poker Night—comes a powerful love story exploring loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.
Roya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper.
When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—she loses her heart at once. And, as their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.
A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again.
Until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her?
The Stationery Shop is a beautiful and timely exploration of devastating loss, unbreakable family bonds, and the overwhelming power of love.
It’s not often that I consider a book “unputdownable” but that’s exactly how I would define The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali.
I’m a sucker for a tragic romance. I mean the rip your heart out and trample it kind of tragic romance. I love the books that leave you in tears when you turn the final page and I legit cried when I finished this book. I think the last time I felt that way about a book was when I finished reading Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen. If you enjoy emotional stories that tug at your heart strings and leave you a jumbled mess of tears (in the best possible way, of course) then The Stationery Shop absolutely must be on your reading list ASAP.
The Stationery Shop was on my 2019 summer reading list and I requested a digital galley through NetGalley so I could read it immediately. I’ve accumulated so many books over the years that I’ve stopped buying physical books unless I feel like it’s a book I must own and I know I’ll re-read. The Stationery Shop is definitely that kind of book which means I’ll be making a trip to the book store this weekend to buy a hard cover edition to display on my shelves.
The book though – guys, it’s SO GOOD! When you first meet Roya and Bahman they are young teenagers growing up in Iran. The country is full of political strife but they each find solace in the books and poetry found in the stationery shop run by Mr. Fakhri in Tehran. Mr. Fakhri subtly plays matchmaker and soon these two young lovers are swept up in a whirlwind of romance and love beyond anything they could have imagined. They get engaged and plan to meet at the square in town before running off to the Office of Marriage and Divorce to get married. Only, Bahman never shows up leaving 17-year old Roya alone to pick up the broken pieces of her heart and try to move forward with her life.
In the 60 years that follow that fateful day, both Roya and Bahman eventually move on before a chance encounter finally brings their stories full circle.
In the end, we readers are left with a story of overwhelming grief, the enduring power of love, and a warning lesson about meddling in the affairs of others.
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali is the first book I’ve read from my 2019 summer reading list and it was a huge hit! I finished it in only 3 days. The final night I stayed awake until 2:30am just because I couldn’t bear to put it down until I’d finished the entire story. This is absolutely a story I’ll remember.