As a child in Tehran, Shohreh Aghdashloo dreamed of a life as a famous actress; a dream made difficult by her parents' insistence that she follow a more practical path. After marrying an artist who supported her passion and taking steps toward building her career, Aghdashloo's world was shaken by the 1979 Iranian Revolution. With restrictions far worse than those her parents had imposed, Aghdashloo eventually chooses to escape Iran in hopes of creating a new life in Los Angeles. The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines is the story of a woman through dream, revolution and reality.
Though there have been numerous memoirs and stories written around the Iranian Revolution, several of which I have read, Shohreh Aghdashloo's appears to fill an untouched space. It seems very little has been written from the perspective of someone from an affluent background who had the means to leave the country. Seeing the revolution from these different points of view makes it clear that, although certain aspects of life may have been easier, very few in Iran were exempt from unjust treatment.
Just before picking up my copy of The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines to begin reading, I caught an interview with Shohreh Aghdashloo on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show. In the hour-long interview, Rehm and Aghdashloo discuss some of the same topics from the memoir, which made me quite excited to get reading. However, I was slightly disappointed by how much of Aghdashloo's spirit seemed to be missing when I was reading the book. Some of the language reads very formal and choppy, almost as if it were over-edited. The passion she had when discussing some of the same situations in the interview felt a little lost.
Still, I was surprised by how much I learned by reading The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines. For anyone who has enjoyed reading about the Iranian Revolution in the past, this will not simply be a replay of everything you have heard before. Shohreh Aghdashloo's story is a testament to the power of ambition and strength.