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Jennifer Klinec, the Temporary Bride, on inspiration and Iran

This month we’re delighted to publish The Temporary Bride in paperback, with a delicious new cover.

Jennifer Klinec has written an exclusive short piece about Yazd (the Iranian province which inspired her memoir), her first glimpses of the city, and what drove her there.

‘Yazd?!’ The couple who’d sat in front of me on the flight to Iran had looked at me as if it were the moon. Like most of my fellow passengers they shunned the provinces, preferring the tree-lined suburbs of northern Tehran.

But it wasn’t for monuments, tombs, the great ruins of Persepolis that I covered my hair and averted my gaze, stepping out alone beneath beneath the enormous, lifelike paintings of Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei with their unsmiling faces and long, white beards.

I had come to Iran for its food.

Since I was a student in Montreal eating my first Persian stew, tearing fibres of lamb between a metal spoon and fork, breathing in the scent of dried black limes, I had chartered a course to this place. It is for love I was willing to sit alone night after night, eating in the empty women’s dining rooms of the few restaurants that survived the revolution. It is for love I weaved through the men in crowded, ancient coffeehouses, tolerating the whispering and unashamed stares. It is love that drove me to visit a country ruled by fear, with a culture much overlooked and long forgotten.

I looked out and watched the women who hurried along the pavements in this city, wearing severe, black cloaks pulled forward to their eyebrows, with children scurrying close behind. Despite living in a city known for the sensuous curves of its adobe passages and romantically named alleyways, the occupants of Yazd – the Yazdi – were famous for being conservative and financially shrewd.The men dressed in peasant clothes and cheap plastic sandals but were secretly rich, renowned for their furious bargaining skills.Transactions at the market, at the rice seller, in the narrow archways of the gold bazaar, were belaboured exchanges of tuts and hisses, whispered offers with lowered eyes, counter-offers protested while patting empty wallets in pockets.

Above my head the windows of apartments were blacked out with amber adhesive panels, frayed and peeling around the edges. The balconies were concealed more vibrantly with colourful sheets – bright paisley patterns, elaborate equestrian scenes – generously strung from sagging lengths of twine and tightly wound around black iron railings: the miniature worlds behind them betrayed by faint glimpses of an upended mop or a haphazard clothesline, the swishing of rubber flip-flops, the scratching of a corn broom.

I heard women whispering ‘teflaki’ as I passed, an empathy used for people who are fragile. I knew I was vulnerable in their eyes because I was alone.

It was a long way from London to this place I longed for, where I could untangle myself from everything. To Iran I was taking all my romantic ideas. I was bringing the best, kindest version of myself. In turn I hoped the best, most beautiful parts of Iran might reveal themselves to me.

Jennifer Klinec

Have you read The Temporary Bride, or are you reading it now? We would love to hear from you, if so – you can get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, or via email.

We have already had lots of love from the book from reading groups up and down the country, as it was voted their favourite new book of the year via The Reading Agency’s poll! Food for thought, if you are in a reading group or book club and looking for your next read. Thanks to all the groups who have already sent us some lovely photos of themselves enjoying the book (in its previous, blue, incarnation).

NRGD A Good Read Book Group

NRGD Whitegrove Library Book Group

NRGD Wine Women and Words