Twenty-six-year-old college graduate, artist, and employee of the Ministry of Art and Culture, Hasti Nourian aspires to be a “new woman”—independent-minded, strong-willed, and in control of her own destiny. A destiny that includes Morad, an idealistic young architect and artist with whom Hasti is deeply in love. Morad is a sharp critic of Iran’s Westernized bourgeois class, the one that Hasti’s mother relishes. After Hasti’s father died, her mother had married a wealthy businessman and moved to an exclusive neighborhood of northern Tehran.
Socializing with a mixed group of Americans, English-speaking Iranians, and British expats, her mother’s life revolves around gym visits, hairdressers, and party planning. When her mother persuades Hasti to join her at the spa, she introduces her to Salim, an eligible young man from a wealthy family whose British education and proper comportment, as well as his economic status, make him an ideal suitor for Hasti in her mother’s eyes. Against her better judgment, Hasti finds herself attracted to Salim and tempted by her mother’s comfortable lifestyle. As the novel unfolds, Hasti is torn between her first love and the radical politics of her university friends, and her love for her mother and the freedom economic security can bring.
Set in Tehran in the mid-1970s, just a few years before the 1977–79 revolution, Daneshvar’s unforgettable novel depicts the tumultuous social, cultural, and economic changes of the day through the intimate story of a young woman’s struggle to find her identity.