Read A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann Online


It all began with a line of Persian poetry . . .Anna and Nouri, both studying in Chicago, fall in love despite their very different backgrounds. Anna, who has never been close to her parents, is more than happy to return with Nouri to his native Iran, to be embraced by his wealthy family. Beginning their married life together in 1978, their world is abruptly turned upsideIt all began with a line of Persian poetry . . .Anna and Nouri, both studying in Chicago, fall in love despite their very different backgrounds. Anna, who has never been close to her parents, is more than happy to return with Nouri to his native Iran, to be embraced by his wealthy family. Beginning their married life together in 1978, their world is abruptly turned upside down by the overthrow of the Shah, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.Under the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard, life becomes increasingly restricted and Anna must learn to exist in a transformed world, where none of the familiar Western rules apply. Random arrests and torture become the norm, women are required to wear hijab, and Anna discovers that she is no longer free to leave the country.As events reach a fevered pitch, Anna realizes that nothing is as she thought, and no one can be trusted…not even her husband....

Title : A Bitter Veil
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780983193814
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 314 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Bitter Veil Reviews

  • Janet Robel
    2018-10-31 20:02

    A terrifying thriller that will have your pulse pounding! Anna Schroder is a strong protagonist who readers will love immediately. You can tell the author did tons of research in crafting this and making it as real as possible and scary as hell.

  • Judith Starkston
    2018-11-03 01:14

    Iran is in the news these days and the issues are important to us all, so it was with interest that I picked up Libby Fischer Hellman’s new novel, A Bitter Veil, set in the midst of the Iranian revolution that brought Khomeini to power. In a viscerally effective tale she brings that key moment to life, and we see it in a nuanced way that we would do well to carry into our understanding of the current crisis. I certainly remembered the overthrow of the shah and the hostage crisis, but I can’t say I ever got inside that world until I read Hellman’s book. It is perhaps a cliché to say that some themes transcend time and stay central to the human experience throughout the ages. But it’s still a profound notion despite its common currency. A Bitter Veil develops two such universal themes (along with other lesser ones, of course). One of those themes Hellman succinctly identifies in her author notes:“I am drawn to stories about women whose choices have been taken away from them. How do they react? Do they simply surrender? Become victims? Or can some survive, even triumph over their travails?”Anna, Hellman’s main character, hangs in a delicate balance throughout the novel, and we don’t know how she’ll manage when extremist Islam traps her inside Iran under a veil. She’s no superhero, but she has to cope with extraordinary circumstances. When we meet her, she’s a college student in Chicago hunting down a copy of Rumi’s poetry. She meets Nouri, an Iranian engineering student, when he recites lines of Rumi to her at the bookstore. They are pretty typical college kids—sexual attraction, cultural exoticism, intelligent discussions, politics, all that heady brew draw them together. There are undercurrents of concern. They both seem in different ways too vulnerable for safety, too needy and dependent. The mama in me wanted to give them a lecture about strength of character and making decisions that are wise for you in the long run rather than decisions that feed into your weakest sides. Hellman has done a superb job of creating these two people. If I want to lecture an author’s characters, she’s clearly persuaded me they are real. But these are subtle problems that they suffer from, the sort most of us have in one way or another. If things had gone as planned, they’d have been fine. But instead they marry and go to Iran at the opening of its paroxysms. So what happens to a woman, and not an extraordinarily strong woman, when her freedoms are taken away, one by one, and her life is threatened multiple times and submission to extremism seems like the only way out? I’ll let you read and find out. It’s a good story.The other theme that Hellman gradually unfolds is best summed up by Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase “the banality of evil.” As Anna says at one point when describing Iran during the revolution, “It’s as if an entire country—an entire culture—slipped off its axis. Black became white. White became black. Kind people were unkind. Good people were bad.” Arendt’s notion that an ordinary person can be led to evil actions arose from her study of the Nazis, and Hellman has Nazis in this book. I won’t tell you how—it will spoil some of the plot—but she creates a subtle and effective parallel between the Iranian extremism and Germany under the Nazis. She shows willingness of “good” people in Iran to perform orgies of killing through the process of identifying the “other” and then vowing to eradicate that other in order to purify society. Hellman includes amongst the “good” villains those allied with the Islamic revolution and those just trying to survive. Isn’t that precisely why such villainy works? No need to be a true believer to become tangled in the darkness. There’s a hopeful message to this book and a deep cross-cultural sympathy. Both make it an uplifting read not a depressing one, despite the sadness. The good story and characters make it an engaging read. The subject matter and setting make it an illuminating one.

  • Sandra Heinzman
    2018-11-18 19:16

    I was sent this audio book for free by the author; thank you, Libby!I forgot, while reading this book, that it was fiction, as it felt like a real story. The book was obviously well- researched. I was only slightly older than Anna when all these events happened in Iran. It's about Anna, a college student in Chicago, the daughter of a German physicist father and a French mother (her parents were divorced and she lived with her father, mainly), who meets Nouri Samedi, a wealthy Iranian engineering grad student. They fall in love and after her graduation, they decide to go to Iran and get married, and start a life there. Anna is hoping for a wonderful family life, something she felt she never had with her own family. But political events are happening in Iran, and the setting is just prior to the Shah's fall. At first, her life in Iran is wonderful, her in-laws embrace her, her husband is loving and doting, and Anna starts to make friends with another American woman, also the wife of an Iranian. As all the political upheaval starts to happen, things change in the Samedi household and Nouri doesn't know how to cope with the change. He and his family turn against all things American, including Anna. My only complaint is how quickly Nouri changes for the worst, and without any explanation about why he suddenly falls out of love with Anna. He doesn't talk with her and I'm confused why everything is suddenly her fault, and, literally, it happens almost overnight. I was just as distressed as Anna was, over how horrible her life becomes. I was so angry with Nouri!The book is beautifully written and I feel like I learned so much about the time, the politics, and Iran as a country, and about the people. I was wary of Anna marrying Nouri and moving to Iran from the beginning, as I immediately thought about the book, Not Without My Daughter, and knew what dangers Anna would face once married and living in that society, and how her rights as a woman would be eroded.I highly recommend this book, and I loved the audio narration. I could hardly wait for my daily commute to/from work each day, just so I could listen! Kudos to the author for a wonderful, believable story about true events that I remember so well happening in my youth.

  • Book Concierge
    2018-10-20 20:16

    3.5***For this historical thriller, Hellmann has chosen the time frame of 1977-1980, during the Iranian Revolution. Anna Schroder meets fellow grad student Nouri Samedi in a Chicago bookstore. They share a love of poetry, which is what begins their relationship. Despite their different cultures, they find in each other qualities which complete them, and fall in love. But when they return to Nouri’s native Iran, Anna is confronted with a greater cultural and religious divide than she had anticipated. Hellmann has obviously done her research and she presents both sides of the many issues that resulted in the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini (at least in my opinion). I found the lead characters rather naïve, but I reminded myself of their youth and idealism and how each had been somewhat sheltered by his/her family, and went with the flow. I was completely caught up in the story of Anna’s increasing isolation, the limited (or lack of) options, and her resolve. In the Author Note at the end of the novel, Hellmann explains how the idea for the book came to her – her fascination with a story of one woman’s struggle against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But, she says, she felt stymied because the story had no crime, and she writes crime fiction. So, on the advice of a friend she invented a crime around which to build her plot. I have news for Hellmann – she does a fine job of writing fiction without the crime (which, in this case, I felt resolved a little too neatly). What I found most interesting about the book was Anna’s journey from a naïve college student to a strong and resourceful young woman. I’ve passed the book on to my husband, who loves reading about international issues and intrigue. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

  • Kate Policani
    2018-11-10 19:29

    Anna is in love. It is 1977 and Nouri Samedi is alluring and wonderful, sharing her beliefs about society and her passion for change. She is delighted to marry him and move with him to Iran to finally become part of a family. Leaving her Chicago home and her father, she travels to Iran with her new husband to learn a new way of life and a new culture. Anna and Nouri know that the nation is on the brink of revolution. But their fervent belief that the country is headed for a peaceful transition to parliamentary democracy prevents them from fearing the change. Unfortunately, their beliefs prove false. Will their relationship weather the violent changes to the country led by the Ayatollah Khomeini? Will they survive the new regime?Bitter Veil was a fascinating look into culture, preconceptions, power, belief, and the chaos that comes from revolution. Anna transitions from idealistic college student to undeceived prisoner of war. Her understanding of the world transforms as she faces the things she didn't understand before. The aspects of mystery Libby wove into the story brought excitement and suspense to an already tense story. I loved the way she handled the reader's gradual understanding of the truth to craft the mystery that trapped Anna in an Iranian prison.I love books about other cultures, and I wasn't disappointed in this one. Details about Iranian life and culture made the story sparkle. The subject also resonates with all of the current events that deal with that area of the world. I love to understand other points of view, and I appreciate the research and care taken with the subject.Libby didn't leave out the important gray areas of atrocity that make them real instead of just "good guys vs. bad guys" stories. The parallels to many other nations' revolutions and dark periods were not forgotten. This work was an excellent contemplation on turbulent political times and what they do to families and individuals.

  • Kathleen Hagen
    2018-10-26 18:13

    A Bitter Veil, by Libby Fischer Hellman, Narrated by Diane Pirone Gelman, Produced by Libby Fischer Hellman Publishing, downloaded from and Nouri, both college students studying in Chicago, fall in love despite their very different backgrounds.Anna grew up in strange circumstances. Her father was a scientist from Nazi Germany repatriated to the U.S. after the war because the government wanted his scientific knowledge. Her mother, a citizen from India, divorced her father after she learned of his war activities and moved to Paris, leaving Anna with her father in the U.S. Due to this background, where she never felt loved as a child, Anna is more than happy to return with Nouri to his native Iran, to be embraced by his wealthy family, with his father being a known supporter of the Shah of Iran. . Beginning theirmarried life together in 1978, their world is abruptly turned upside down by the overthrow of the Shah, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.Under theAyatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard, life becomes increasingly restricted and Anna must learn to exist in a transformed world, where none of thefamiliar Western rules apply. Random arrests and torture become the norm, women are required to wear hijab, and Anna discovers that she is no longer freeto leave the country. As events reach a fevered pitch, Anna realizes that nothing is as she thought, and no one can be trusted? Not even her husband. Then things get even worse when her husband is murdered, Anna is framed for the murder and thrown into the worst prison in Iran. This is an excellent book with Hellman’s expert touch of putting you right in the middle of political events, never letting the tension ease until the very end. This will be one of my best books of the year. It’s not really a murder mystery though. I consider it a novel.

  • Sheila
    2018-11-02 19:08

    American Anna meets Iranian Nouri in a bookstore in Chicago where they’re both students. Sensitive and artistic, Anna soon falls for Nouri’s reading of Iranian poetry. Meanwhile Nouri joins protests against the Shah of Iran. When Nouri decides to return home to a job, Anna agrees to marry and go with him, but the timing proves disastrous as Iran falls under anti-American leadership, the newly free venting their fury on the upper classes with random arrests and even torture.Author Libby Fischer Hellmann blends excellent research into convincing story-telling with her novel A Bitter Veil. Avoiding condemnation, she presents the tortuous mix of ideals and consequences through the eyes of a stranger to the world. Initially delighted to be welcomed into Nouri’s family, Anna falls in love with the countryside and people, only to find her hopes betrayed. Fragile friendships might save or destroy, and the darkness of Iran’s revolution becomes not only painfully clear but also rationally predictable.In another age, in another part of the world, a people fell apart. Anna’s horror at who her German father might have been provides a powerful background to who her new friends become, and this story is simultaneously enthralling, scarily real, and deeply thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down.Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel from World Literary Café in exchange for my honest review.

  • Melodie
    2018-11-04 22:06

    Iran before,during and after the fall of the Shah is the time period for this fast paced story.Anna and Nouri meet and fall in love in Chicago while attending college. So in love with one another, they move in together,then marry after graduation. For Anna, moving to Iran is a heady but nerve wracking experience.The vast differences in culture overwhelm her at times. But Nouri's family is welcoming and she finds the family she feels she has been denied in her own childhood.Nouri, returning to the bosom of his family,is confident that he will grow and prosper with Anna at his side. Even though he has given lip service to the need for change in Iranian society,he naively believes that his cultured,wealthy way of life will not be affected. The warning signs at first are subtle and easy for the couple to ignore.But the winds of change quickly escalate into the chaos that tornadoes bring.And there is no turning back.What was once would never be again. I could not stop reading this book. I understand that Ms. Hellman writes crime fiction, but I read this as historical fiction. And while I have lived through this time,I learned a lot about Iran's history and culture.Looking back at myself during that time, I realize now what a narrow view I had of this country back then. For those that remember this time, it is a fresh look back. For those too young to remember, it is a history lesson. And for all it is a vision of what happens when religion and politics mix.

  • Elyse
    2018-11-04 22:02

    I don't think I was prepared for "A Bitter Veil" to be such an ambitious, intelligent, emotionally-charged-(satisfying-page-turning), important mystery-fiction book! Libby Hellmann writes a gripping heart-rending incredible tale that feels like a true story. The best way to read this story, (IMO), is know little about it! I can't imagine ANYONE NOT taking to this book! It is damn hard to put down! EVEN if you think you know this story (know the history)---which I did ---(I was in Iran during the 70's before the 'fall'), it doesn't matter. Even if you have seen 'other' movies on this topic-- It won't matter. THIS book fills in the 'holes'.You become 'engaged' yourself. You want others to hurry up and read it ---(so you can talk with them more about it)Its an 'excellent' discussion book. Think 'our' country might ever move 'backward'? Are 'we' ever THAT sure? WHY would ANY country move BACKWARD -- Lost of freedom? Libby will leave you thinking, (maybe crying), ---[Such terrible acts men are capable of --yet they teach us lessons of humanity]"My enemy's enemy is my best friend"..... (great line you put in the book, *Libby* at such a touching-sensitive, moment).Magnificent Mystery Novel! I read this Kindle version....(but darn: I want a SIGNED COPY for KEEPS!) Isn't the cover beautiful? Draws ya in, huh? (perfect for the story)

  • Gayle
    2018-11-12 01:10

    A Story Poignant for the Times.I thoroughly enjoyed the book “A Bitter Veil” by Libby Fischer Hellmann. The story starts with a chance encounter in a college book store where Anna is looking for a book of poetry and meets Nouri. It doesn’t take long for them to fall in love. Anna and Nouri are caught up in the demonstrations that spark the Iranian Revolution. As history tells us the ouster of the Shah creates the power vacuum for the Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran.As their studies are concluding, Nouri proposes and they prepare to move to Tehran.Anna longs for a family to belong and welcomes the chance to make Iran her home with Nouri. It doesn’t take long for the events in Tehran to deteriorate and Anna’s life becomes difficult. Each page is filled with the tension that comes from the understanding of life in country of no rights. Even in light of the extreme political turmoil, Anna comes to recognize her inner strength that wills her to survive.As current events unfold across the news sources today, I enjoyed a story that made me more aware of the plight of women in the Middle East. Libby did a wonderful job of incorporating her extensive research on the Iranian Revolution into the life of Anna. It definitely was a page turner. I highly recommend this book.

  • Kate
    2018-11-01 18:05

    This book follows a young couple; Anna the American girl with a French mother and her father who had been a former Nazi scientist and Nouri who came from a wealthy Iranian family. Having met in University in America they move to Iran to get married at a time of political unrest over the Shahs rule, which ultimately led to a social revolution.The political and social unrest play a pivotal part in the book, showing the changes that these stressful times can bring about in people. For me though, it was Anna's journey that kept me hooked. Her ability to accept or fight the varius situations she was thrust into, her desire to be loved and part of a family and her love for Nouri all made her a wonderful character. By the end of the book I wanted to give her a big hug. I really enjoyed this book, the first one I've read by this author and I will be reading more. It was superbly written, had a good pace, great characterisation and kept me hooked. A recommended read.

  • Teri
    2018-11-12 00:01

    A Bitter Veil is fiction, but involved considerable research and, in the words of the author, "For better or worse, the Iranian Revolution is one of the most well documented periods of world history." It's a timely book, with all of the attention now focused on Argo and Iran. The book evoked mixed feelings in me while I was reading it and it reminded me again and again of how lucky I am to live in a country that isn't experiencing the chaos and destruction so many other countries deal with on a daily basis. And it's that upheaval that results in people becoming dark and suspicious and cruel, and it's that turmoil that destroys families and cultures. It's difficult, if not impossible, for most people to rise above their surroundings or circumstance. Our survival instinct is necessary, but it isn't often pretty.

  • John
    2018-10-21 18:11

    With Libby Fischer Hellmann's newest novel, A Bitter Veil, we are privileged to witness a quantum leap forward in the evolution of her already impressive story-telling chops. Following the lead of her fine period piece, Set The Night On Fire, Ms. Hellmann sets this story in a more recent period of tumult, turmoil, and violence: the transfer of control of Iran from the corrupt, secular reign of the Shah to the corrupt, nascent Islamic Republic. This story is the tale of two flawed individuals, of different cultures, drawn together by love, sundered by a perfect storm of sociopolitical upheaval and intrigue, and reconciled through death and redemption. A powerful and emotional tour de force by a writer who just keeps getting better. A winner, imho!

  • Juliabednar
    2018-10-26 01:19

    Excellent view into the life of an American married to an Iranian living in Iran when the Shah leaves and everything falls apart.

  • Miriam
    2018-10-20 22:14

    A fascinating story about an American girl and her Iranian husband who return to Iran right before the fall of the Shah. Full of social and political history, the book captures the changes and the fear of the times. A dramatic ending will leave you with chills and tears.If you want to read an older book on the topic, try Not Without My Daughter.

  • Sam Sattler
    2018-10-29 19:13

    Libby Fischer Hellman is best known for the mysteries featuring strong female leads she writes, but her latest is more like last year’s Set the Night on Fire in which Hellmann took a more literary approach to a specific period of American history (the radicalism of the 1960s). With A Bitter Veil, the author focuses on the series of events that would lead both to the rise to power in Iran of the infamous Ayatollah Khomeini and to the downfall of American president Jimmy Carter. What makes the novel such a compelling read is Hellmann’s skill at recounting this turning point in the relationship of the two countries through the eyes of a rather naïve young American woman who falls in love with an Iranian student she meets in Chicago. Similar stories have, sadly, happened all too often in the real world during the last three decades.Abby would like a family within which she can feel secure and protected, but she has the opposite. She is not particularly close to either of her parents; in fact, her mother has lived in her own native France for most of Abby’s life. Her physical and emotional response to Nouri, the young Iranian student she meets in a Chicago bookstore both surprises and pleases her. From almost the moment they meet, the two young people are inseparable and Anna dares to hope for a long future with Nouri. She is willing, almost eager, to follow him back to Iran to begin life there as a married woman. As fate would have it, the couple returns to Iran at precisely the moment the Shah’s power and his hold on the government are slipping away forever. So gradually that Anna fails to recognize the warning signs, Nouri changes from the religiously liberal man she married into a strict follower of Islam. Nouri, whose father is close to the Shah and has become wealthy through his political connections, makes the change largely to ensure his own economic survival. Anna can understand the necessity of wearing the veil in public but in reality she becomes her husband’s prisoner - never allowed to leave their home alone. Worse, she learns that because she married in Iran she cannot leave the country legally without her husband’s permission. Nouri swears he will never allow her to leave. The Bitter Veil is the story of a typical young American who finds herself tested in ways that the average, naïve American could not imagine in the late 1970s that they would ever be tested. The things that happen to her are simply not supposed to happen to an American – but when they do she must rise to the occasion if she hopes to survive long enough to escape Iran.I do have one warning about the novel’s ending: do not begin the final segment (you will recognize it when you get there) unless there is time to finish the rest of A Bitter Veil before bedtime. Consider yourself warned.

  • Teann
    2018-11-08 23:20

    A Bitter VeilLibby Fischer HellmanAllium PressApril 15, 2012PaperbackISBN: 978-0983193814$16.99316 pagesFor many of us growing up as children in the middle of the twentieth century, we expected to have our dreams fulfilled, love, marriage, education, a successful career, … Hindsight always gives a person an advantage. However, in A Bitter Veil, an American girl, Anna, meetsan Iranian boy, Nouri, who is studying engineering in Chicago. They meet in a bookstore and begin to discuss Persian poetry. This is the beginning of their loving relationship. It seemed like the perfect match even though she was blond and he had dark hair. Both had that Aryan look about their eyes.At that time not many people in this country had married someone from this area of the world. Being That in Iran at this time had about 46,000 Americans living there and appeared progressive with technology, styles, and habits, no one could have predicted how things could and would change in a very short time.Anna had never been close to her family so her love for Nouri fulfilled her and she eagerly anticipated having an extended family, even if it is in Iran. Fortunately, Nouri’s family was wealthy and greatly benefited from the Shah’s reign basically living a Western life in Tehran.As the couple begins their new life in the modern Iran of 1978, the southern section of Tehran is having demonstrations and riots due to the inequality of opportunities inside this country. The southern part of this city is poor, the northern section where this couple lives, appears not to even be aware of the problems.When the Shah leaves and the Ayatollah returns to the country, many people are eager for the change, this should fulfill their hopes and dreams. However, when the U.S. Embassy is attacked and those inside are held hostage, the attitude towards Americans and modernization quickly changes. This reversion to the old beliefs is difficult for those who were in favor with the previous governmental powers.In A Bitter Veil, the voice of Anna is realistic and believable. Libby Fischer Hellman extensively researched this time period, the changes in Iran, and those people who actually underwent this experience. This in-depth fictional story is well-organized, engaging, as well as informative of actual historical episodes and the effects on those Americans in Iran.A Bitter Veil is a true historical experience. Even though it is a romance at first, it is also a mystery, and definitely reflective to the changes within Iran.Hindsight always makes us reflect into a right or wrong situation. A Bitter Veil allows us to view the changes through the eyes of a naïve Westerner while also having the reader develop a deeper understanding of the people.

  • Nancy
    2018-10-30 23:24

    I read A BITTER VEIL, by Libby Fischer Hellmann, in practically one sitting. The novel begins in a frigid Chicago winter, when Anna Schroder and Nouri Samedi meet by chance in the Persian literature stacks of a local bookstore. Anna is buying books for her Middle Eastern literature class. It’s an instant attraction that’s sealed by Nouri reciting lines of Rumi to Anna.Both are students: Anna, from Virginia, is pursuing her master’s degree in English and Nouri has come to the U.S. from Iran to study engineering. Within a few months, they’ve fallen in love. Theirs is not an easy soft-focus Hallmark kind of love. It’s a desperate and needy love, where they can barely let each other out of their sight and cling to each other as if addicted. Neither of them seem to have the internal strength to navigate life on their own. The backdrop for the novel is the late 1970’s, during the unrest leading up to Iranian Revolution. Nouri joins the local student group protesting the Shah; Anna soon follows. When Anna finishes her degree, they marry and move to Tehran, where Nouri wants to help rebuild his country. Anna, ashamed of her own family secrets, is welcomed into Nouri’s with open arms. In spite of her discomfort with the opulence of the Iranian elite, Anna, at last, feels like she’s found a home. But, as Libby Fischer Hellman shows in chilling detail, the country soon slips off its axis. The Shah is overthrown and flees the country. Ayatollah Khomeini takes over and forms the Republican Guard. Women are relegated to second-class citizens, under the rule of their husband or closest male relative. Men are forced to conform. All traces of the Shah must be eradicated; the upper-class is especially vulnerable. Executions are common and anti-American sentiment is rampant. In a culture where family is all you’ve got, Anna quickly becomes a liability. I’m sure that Libby Fisher Hellman meticulously researched and plotted A BITTER VEIL before writing a single word. That shows: it’s a tight, seamless journey from the first words to the last. But her language also captivated me. The novel is literary, melodic, and seductive. We can feel Anna and Nouri falling in love. When Anna falls in love with her adopted country, we feel that too. And when life turns upside-down, we experience the repression, the isolation, and the terror.This book is a must-read on so many levels. It’s a standout work of historical fiction. In places, it reads like a first-hand account of the Iranian revolution. It’s also a page-turning thriller wrapped up in a love story. A BITTER VEIL is so compelling, you’ll have a hard time putting it down.

  • Gloria Feit
    2018-11-07 18:19

    In a departure from her popular Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis series, Libby Fischer Hellmann leaves Chicago with a fascinating and obviously well-researched novel set at the time of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970’s. Her protagonist, Anna Schroder, an English major at the University of Chicago, also leaves that town, in January of 1977, after a passionate romance with Nouri Samedi, a handsome engineering student who quotes poetry to her and sweeps her off her feet. The reader knows literally from the opening pages that things will not end well.Nouri is the only son whose parents are wealthy and well-connected. Anna longs for a loving family – her parents divorced when she was five, and her mother moved back to her native Paris; her German father, a scientist – with whom she hadn’t had contact in a long time - is in America. When she and Nouri decide to marry despite their apparent cultural differences, they move to Tehran, where unrest and demonstrations against the Shah are beginning. Within a few short months, the military government resigns, the Shah is forced out, and Ayatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard have taken over. They want nothing less than to purge Iran of all traces of the shah. The repercussions, for any opposed to the new rule of law, especially among those from America, the “Great Satan,” are profound. Anna is told by an Iranian bookseller, who is forced to keep hidden away any counter-revolutionary poetry or books by such as e.e. cummings or William Shakespeare not already confiscated, “We have been victims for years. Invaders, the shah, now the revolution. It is all the same.”The background of that area of the world and the “complicated history of Islam” provided by the author is extremely interesting. Nouri, discussing the volatile situation with his childhood friend, says “yes, we opposed the shah. But our goal was a democratic government, not an Islamist republic. Don’t you remember?” We are told that the people “long for Iran to create a parliamentary democracy. It would be a blessing for the people of Iran, the Middle East, the entire world. But Khomeini has made it clear that’s not his priority.” Things reach a fevered pitch, and Anna doesn’t know who can be trusted.Those looking for the mystery element usually found in this author’s books will not be disappointed, for there is a murder and a surrounding mystery along the way. The book is completely absorbing, and is recommended.

  • Caroline
    2018-10-25 01:01

    Historical fiction covering the unrest in the 1970s that led to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the overthrow of the Shah of Iran's dynasty and the establishment of an Islamic republic under the Ayatollah Khomeini . Anna, a young American woman falls in love with a Nouri, rich Iranian student who, despite his background, believes that Iran would benefit from democracy. They get married and move to Iran where his father, businessman in the oil industry and with links to the Shah, gets him a job with a French company. They continue to live in the lap of luxury even as tension continues to grow in Iran.Their lives and that of their family and friends are disrupted by the strikes, demonstrations and ultimate increasingly religious tone to the country. As Shariah law is established under this new government, Americans like Anna, are increasingly at risk of imprisonment for various crimes, some fictitious and some real. An American woman who marries an Iranian man has her passport surrendered to the Iranian government, and is unable to leave the country without the permission of her husband.As things continue to escalate out of control in the country, so does Anna and Nouri's marriage. What was once a loving relationship unravels in the confusion of those who were once the elite in the country, trying to make sense of the country they still loved but no longer understood, of those who had enjoyed religious freedom now being coerced into Islamic practices they did not previously believe in. In Anna and Nouri's case, that confusion leads to not just in the destruction of their marriage, but in tragedy.I wasn't terribly impressed with the book when I first started it, but as it progressed and especially when the author moved into the history of the revolution and the changes in the various characters, I was completely in her grip and couldn't put the book down until the conclusion.

  • Deana
    2018-11-03 18:31

    A Bitter Veil is a fantastic read and will grab you from the first chapter. I will start by saying that this isn’t typically a book that I would read but I am glad I did. I ignored my husband and kids for 2 nights because I couldn’t put it down.The story takes place in the late 70’s and follows a couple, Anna and Nouri, from, the beginning of their relationship when the pair is in college to marriage and a move to Iran where Anna enjoys the life of her dreams with her husband and his family. They enjoy a privileged life in Tehran until the downfall of the Shah and rise of the Ayatollah and the Republican Guard. Anna’s life goes from picturesque to terrifying. People are randomly imprisoned and tortured and women are forced to live under the control of their husbands. As the violence increases Anna finds herself trapped in Iran with no one to trust, imprisoned and with little hope of escape.Libby Fischer Hellmann was obviously well studied in the history of Iran. . I admit that I find the history of the middle east confusing to say the least. She wrote this book so knowledgably that I actually finished the book with some understanding of what happened in Iran and what life must have been like there. She contrasted life before and after the Shah beautifully She wrote characters that were relatable and drew you in immediately. I will definitely be reading more books by the lovely Libby Fischer Hellman in the future. If this isn’t your regular genre I would encourage you to give it a try. I know you will enjoy this engrossing story as much as I did. Read it! Read it! Read it!

  • Rachelle Ayala
    2018-11-08 01:08

    This was a 5 star book, a work of literary fiction, political thriller, near-current historical fiction. It had everything, drama, young love, revolutionary changes, iconic characters, and a reign of terror. But why??? oh why??? did the ending include a hokey murder mystery, stereotyped Scooby-Doo-like reveal of the villain with the last minute gunshot and the finger of blame pointed at our protag???I walked away feeling like the book was ruined. The young complicated character, the one I was interested in following to the next book, reduced to an "and if it hadn't been for you, I would have gotten away with it" stick figure.Okay, back to the first 91% of the book and the last 6%. It was lyrical, sweet, tragic, and pulsing with a mixture of romance, fantasy, and tension.Nouri was Anna's dream come true, a handsome, charming man she met at a Persian bookstore. Their torrid love affair ended in a fairy-tale wedding and inclusion into a wealthy, loving, and accepting family. Anna's own family was broken rather early, and in Nouri's family and country, pre-Khomeini Iran, she enjoyed a honeymoon with a culture, people, and land in transition.The book documents the way ordinary people adapt and are affected by traumatic change. There is denial, anger, bargaining, and stultifying acquiescence. Eventually, Anna's life is reduced to that of a Islamic wife hidden behind a chador, a virtual prisoner to her increasingly moody and fanatic husband. Her trials and escape were dramatic and filled with poignant detail. If I ignore the murder mystery subplot, I come away with a great sense of tragedy, sadness for Nouri's family and people, and hope for Anna, in that surviving, she would be stronger and able to forgive her husband for his weaknesses.

  • Krazykiwi
    2018-11-15 18:29

    Western woman marries handsome Iranian student and returns to his homeland with him, just in time for the revolution.This was a real 3 star for me. I liked it well enough, but not more. It's well written, clearly well researched, and it certainly kept me turning pages. It just felt like it went off the rails at some point, and devolved into an weird murder mystery with a slightly too deus ex machina ending. For me at least.Right up until then, I would have rated it somewhat higher probably. But since I can't unread that part, well, so be it.If you're interested in the Iranian revolution (it's really a fascinating time and place to read about) I can highly recommend Marjane Satrapi's The Complete Persepolis which, despite being non-fiction, a graphic novel and from the perspective of a child, is really rather spectacular. If you're interested in life as a western woman in the middle east (and particularly how one might extricate oneself from there, a perspective I was hoping would be covered in this book, but was instead almost ignored), well there's plenty of those, probably the most well known being Betty Mahmoody's Not Without My Daughter ´+(you may well have seen the film which I found a little bit hysterical, but the book is actually rather good).I'd consider reading more by this author though, as said, the writing is good and for most of the book she had me.

  • Tanja Berg
    2018-10-26 02:03

    Stupid woman! That was my predominant thought throughout this book. I finally decided on 4 stars, actual rating is more like 3.5. College student Anna meets and falls in love with Iranian engineering student Nouri. They marry and move to Iranian just before the revolution that deposed of the modernizing Shah and instituted the conservative Ayatollah instead. It couldn't go well, that much was obvious from the start. Poor Anna, who grew up only with her father - her mother haven taken off when she was little - was a loner at school. She is delighted to be swept up in the folds of her Iranian in-laws. The idyll doesn't last for long. The atomsphere sharpens and Nouri changes, making Anna's life hell. All I could keep thinking is that Anna should have known better. Marrying someone from another culture and religion AND moving to their country - that is playing against the odds. I know I'm judging harshly and that I have never been in that position myself. I have however, been madly in love and I know how that can grill your brain. I suppose love would have made Anna blind and deaf and dumb.The novel is clearly well-researched. The author's respect for the culture and the beauty of the surroundings is evident.

  • Kathy
    2018-10-29 22:20

    In full disclosure, I was given a copy of this book to read before publication date. And am I glad! This is one of the most exciting books I've read in awhile. The story begins in the late 1970's when Nouri, a flawed student from Iran, studying in Chicago, meets and falls in love with Anna, a damaged American student. Coming from two different worlds on many levels, the two fall in love and decide to marry once they go to Iran to begin their new life as a couple.What Anna finds in Iran is more than she bargains for. On the one hand she gains the love of a family for which she has always longed. On the other, she finds a country in political turmoil as a government is toppled and the entire Iranian world is turned upside down.The tension escalates as the political story unfolds, as the family falls apart, as murder is committed, as an escape from Iran is contemplated.Libby presents the sights and smells and sounds of Iran so vividly, I felt like I was right in the middle of the action. Thank you, Libby, for another great book!

  • Liz
    2018-10-29 21:07

    I loved this book. I picked it up as a loaner just looking for something different to read. Normally, this isn't really my genre, but I was after something different. This at the top of the "best books I've read this year" list. Anna gives up her life in America and moves to Iran with Nouri. Anna isn't very bothered by moving around the world, she's not very close to her parents, both divorced, one lives in America, the other in France. Almost as soon as she gets to Iran she begins to suspect Nouri isn't quite being up front and totally honest with her. Then revolution slams the country, leaving all sorts of hate and discontent in its path. The author really brings the characters and time period (late 70's to early 80's) to life. I found myself up until four in the morning because I just couldn't put it down. I found myself hoping there was a part two, but I think I'll content myself with picking up more by this author. Wonderfully done.

  • PopcornReads
    2018-10-26 20:22

    Book Giveaway & Review: Our giveaway for the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop is A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellman. When her publicist contacted me about A Bitter Veil, I was very excited. I had heard it was going to be released and already knew I wanted to read it. I had been looking for fiction about Iran, and was delighted to find this one takes place during the revolution when the Shah was ousted. That was a very pivotal period in Iran, as any Persian can tell you. Read the rest of my review & enter our giveaway at

  • Irma Montano
    2018-11-02 01:20

    Emotionally riveting from heartwarming to heartbreaking..I was taken in from the beginning. Through the sweet happiness to the bitter tears. I love your writing. I felt it all. I love it when I can see in MY head what you saw in yours when you wrote. I have never been to Iran but I fell like I have. Thank you for all the work that went into writing this book. enjoyed it very much.

  • Joan
    2018-10-27 23:07

    Libby Fischer Hellman has done it again - kept me up half the night because I could not put this book down. Suspenseful historical fiction with believable characters, A Bitter Veil is a real page turner well worth a good night's sleep.

  • Carol
    2018-11-03 20:18

    An interesting perspective on the Iranian revolution. There are some character flip-flops that are a bit too extreme to be realistic but the realities of being a foreign woman in a strict theocracy are honestly portrayed.