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Rosewater and Soda Bread (Babylon Café #2)

3.42  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,069 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
“Mehran’s novel delights the senses on every page. The story pulses with life as three Iranian sisters struggle to make sense of matters of the heart and the spirit.”
–Elizabeth Cox, author of The Slow Moon

More than a year has passed since Marjan, Bahar, and Layla, the beautiful Iranian Aminpour sisters, sought refuge in the quaint Irish town of Ballinacroagh. Opening the
Paperback, 292 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2008)
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Chocolat by Joanne HarrisLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelThe School of Essential Ingredients by Erica BauermeisterJulie and Julia by Julie PowellFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Nouvelle Cuisine
45th out of 322 books — 211 voters
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Food-Related Fiction
79th out of 401 books — 497 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,992)
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Jun 04, 2009 Jennifer rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2009
When we were in first grade, my sister wrote a book about the sunflower and the very mean lady. The very mean lady kept trying to get rid of the sunflower, and the book ended with "And the sunflower did something to her..." This book reminds me a lot of my sisters book. Not because Marsha Mehran is my sister or six years old, but the book was filled with all kinds of starts but no ends. Layla wants to have sex... Something happened to Marjan in the detention center... The old biddies across the ...more
Jul 11, 2008 Anne rated it liked it
Mehran paints lovely word-pictures of places and foods, and she puts together a compelling cast of characters, but the story left this reader hungry for more depth. A good weekend or rainy day read. Goes well with tea.
Jan 08, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Three Iranian sister living in Ireland and eking out a living running a Persian cafe is interesting enough. But throw in a meddling neighbor, a deejay priest, an unconscious pregnant girl, a handsome young man returning to his Irish roots, secrets galore and you have an entertaining story!

I had not read Mehran's first story of the Aminpour sisters (Pomegranate Soup) but I didn't feel lost. It has been nearly ten years since the girls escaped Tehran in '78 and fled to London. They have made their
Ashley L
Oct 28, 2008 Ashley L rated it liked it
Rose Water and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran is a novel about three Iranian sisters who own a café in Ireland. Their lives are changed when a mysterious “mermaid” girl with a dark secret washes up on the beach. They have trouble fitting in their strict Catholic town, but the three sisters bring excitement to their sleepy little village. This story is similar to the authors own life. Marsha Mehran was born in Tehran and she escaped the Iranian revolution to live in the US, Argentina, and Australia ...more
Aug 06, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-gave-up, light
I gave up about two-thirds of the way in. I liked the first one in this series well enough. It was light and fluffy and maybe a bit of a relief from whatever I had been reading. This one isn't as good and it's context in my reading life wasn't as favorable. Enough of the three Iranian sisters in the little Irish village. I feel badly saying this, because they are three admirable women and the author is working very hard to engage us. Still, it didn't work for me. I'd still read the first one, bu ...more
The Library Lady
Nov 10, 2009 The Library Lady rated it it was ok
Maeve Binchy has a natural ear for "quaint" Irish characters. Understandably Mehran does not--and it shows.

Nor does she have an ear for Italian nonna types--Estelle feels more like a yenta from my Bronx neighborhood who wandered briefly into an ashram or something. And she's cloyingly precious.

The love scene with Our Heroine and Our Hero (who is pretty 2 dimensional) on the castle terrace has dialogue worthy of a cheap Harlequin paperback. Or perhaps Ms Mehran read "Twilight".

Lots of gratuitous
Feb 06, 2014 Arsala rated it did not like it
I really enjoyed the book that came before this, "Pomegranate Soup" but for some reason, found this one to be so boring! I really tried hard to get into it and not give up on it but the storyline just wasn't engaging enough for me. I didn't care about the mysterious woman who washed up on shore, I didn't really care for the potential romance plot line and I didn't care about the middle sister's spiritual reawakening. But I won't give up on this author just yet... I'll see what else she has to of ...more
K. Bird
Jan 10, 2014 K. Bird rated it really liked it
I wanted to give Rosewater and Soda Bread 5 stars. There is truly nothing better than a food-based, lyrical description of a culture mixed with young women healing or discovering themselves.

Three sisters who have escaped from Iran to live in a small town in Ireland open a cafe. They must contend with small-town prejudice, memories of the terrible events in Iran, and Catholic morals when their best friend, an elderly Italian widow, picks up an injured, young girl on the seaside who will not speak
Marty Adamson
Aug 13, 2014 Marty Adamson rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: magical-realism
This is the sequel to Pomegranate Soup and continues the stories of the 3 Iranian sisters living in Ireland, running a cafe. The three sisters are each becoming more comfortable in their new home and each is branching out towards love. Layla continues her romance with her Irish boyfriend and they consider taking their relationship to the next step. Marjan meets a local man recently returned home to his family's estate. He intrigues her with his knowledge of Iran, but also scares her because she ...more
Sep 12, 2011 Petersong rated it really liked it
This is simply a nice book. The descriptions of Persian cooking made me hungry.

It is the story of three sisters who fled Iran in the 1980s. They run a cafe in Ballinacrough, not too far from Croagh Patrick in the Irish west coast county of Mayo.

I was less interested in the story of the mysterious young woman found washed up on the beach than I was in Marjan finding happiness.

It was an amazing coincidence that the John Wayne movie set in Ireland, "The Quiet Man", is mentioned in the book on a num
Aug 10, 2008 Janet rated it liked it
**This now includes an "update" at the end!

Goodreads needs to have a system where you can award only a portion of a star. That way I would have been able to pick 3.5 stars. I find that I'm always putting 4 stars for everything. That's got to stop. Sorry I've chosen this author to start with. :-(

I very much enjoyed this book but am giving it 3.5 stars because it really kinda left me wanting. I didn't quite feel like everything was as neatly wrapped up as I would have liked. I actually would like
This is the sequel to Pomegrante Soup: A Novel by the same author. If you haven't read the previous book, you might be somewhat lost following this book. I loved Pomegrante Soup for its story and the delicious Persian recipes.

Rosewater and Soda Bread is very good, but I love the first book better. At times, this second book gets lost with too many characters and competing storylines. Rosewater is similar to books like Chocolat, Like Water For Chocolate, Baker's Apprentice. Food and the love of
Apr 01, 2009 Imogen rated it really liked it
The sequel to Pomegranate Soup, I loved this book JUST as much as Pomegranate Soup.
I had that sad feeling at the end when i knew i was leaving the characters behind. At least with Pomegranate Soup there was a sequel i could look forward to! But I dont know of a third book involoving the Aminpour sisters. If Marsha Mehran publishes another one, I will DEFINITELY be reading it :)
The book follows on just a bit after where Pomegranate Soup left off, with the three sisters running the Babylon Cafe in
Feb 14, 2009 Ladiibbug rated it really liked it
Best enjoyed as a sequel to the fabulous Pomegranate Soup, but can be read as a stand alone

A wonderful story of three Iranian women who flee the Revolution and finally settle in a quaint Irish town. The sisters' Persian cafe quickly becomes a bit hit with the locals, and the exotic foods are a nice part of the books (recipes included).

Each book weaves a tale of the sisters' individual lives, their lives together working at the cafe, and the friendships with the very colorful locals.

I like the ex
Saffron Rose
Jan 18, 2013 Saffron Rose rated it it was amazing
I am currently re-reading this book. Even now after having read it so many times long ago it still sucks me in and I can't put it down. Like having tea with an old friend.

A beautifully written story from a blend of the two best storytelling peoples on earth - Iranians and Irish with some Italian for good measure.

Together make for a beautifully written tale which drags you from cover to cover and feeds you at the end (with the recipes at the back of the book). Can't say if those are good recipe
Apr 13, 2008 Jessica rated it it was ok
After a very promising start, the book fizzled a bit because the author didn't resolve many of the storylines. As the title says, this is a novel about three sisters (Marjan, Bahar, and Layla), two countries (Ireland and Iran), and the language of food.

The author pulled off the language of food (including restorative and medicinal properties), and there are 8 tasty sounding recipes from Ireland or Iran at the end of the book. The portraits of Ireland and Iran while slightly incomplete were well
Jennifer (JC-S)
Mar 29, 2010 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it liked it
‘Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue.’

More than a year has passed since the three Aminpour sisters (Marjan, Bahar and Layla) sought refuge in the Irish town of Ballinacroagh. Since opening the Babylon Café, they have charmed the locals with both their Persian cuisine, and their warm hearts.

But their lives are turned upside down when a young woman with a dark secret is found on Clew Bay Beach sending the town into an uproar. At the same time, each of the sisters is dealing with he
Apr 29, 2009 Kerry rated it really liked it
Shelves: 9, library, 2009
I first saw this book in a bookshop while browsing. It was a bit expensive for a totally blind try at a new author, so I didn’t buy it, but I did file her name away in the back of my mind. Not long after, she was mentioned on a mailing list I’m on, and I discovered this is actually the second book of two. Of course, that meant I had to go and find the first one and read that first. I tracked it down easily (I used the search engine on the local library’s website!) and borrowed it. Pomegranate So ...more
Melissa Salce
Sep 09, 2015 Melissa Salce rated it did not like it
I could not read this book - and this is why: I had just finished Pomegranate Soup and tried to read this immediately after. I made it about 20 pages begrudgingly. This book not only just felt like a regurgitation of the first book, but the three main characters seemed off. Like they were slightly altered version from the first book. I decided not ruin it for myself by continuing to read it. I let P. Soup stand on its own. The author needs to create new characters, setting, etc. and move on to s ...more
It rarely happens that a sequel is equally good as the first book/movie. ‘Rosewater and Soda Bread’ is, however, a nice exception as it is as compelling and interesting as the ‘Pomegranate Soup’.

Having settled for good, the sisters are yet to discard the old feelings and memories to fully enjoy their new, peaceful lives. With an author’s thorough insight you will get to know the characters a bit more finding out their dreams and most dreadful nightmares. ‘Rosewater and Soda Bread’ is a charming
Feb 10, 2016 Chaynyth rated it it was ok
I loved Pomegranate Soup (the first book in this series), but I made it only 10% (kindle edition) before giving up on this one. So much dry, wall-of-text, recap that skimming became self defense. Every time I'd think it was going to pick up and show some of the more lyrical prose of the first book, it'd dive back into dry recap or stilted dialog. Sadly, I had to give up on it. I'll still keep an eye out for this author but I think I'm giving up on the Babylon Café.
I enjoyed this book better that Pomegranate Soup because it focuses less on sisters' inability to cope with their past trauma in Iran and more on the ways they are able to "find strength in what remains." There are a lot of likable secondary characters, too, like an older Italian widow named Estelle and the local Priest who also works as a discjokey (lol). The most interesting part, to me, was the storyline of the middle sister, Bahar, who decides to convert to Catholicism. I would have read an ...more
Nov 24, 2009 Gloria rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Women; people who have emigrated to the USA
Recommended to Gloria by: Book Group
Shelves: cozy-reads
There seem to be more and more stories that illustrate the experiences of contemporary immigrants and this is a good trend because it helps communicate the difficulties and joys of it all. This story, that especially celebrates the strength of young women, is warm and friendly, but does need a bit more depth to keep the rider hooked into the story and also connect with all of the characters. It seemed EVERY character had a personal drama going on; it would have been a bit better perhaps to simpl ...more
Jul 17, 2014 Lora rated it it was ok
I loved the idea of this book and wanted to be swept up in intriguing cultural juxtapositions and sensuous food descriptions. While I found the experience lovely overall, the stereotypes, obvious plot devices and many loose threads left me feeling thwarted in the end. I kept feeling like I had walked into a movie late, since the characters made references to things that had happened before without really filling in details. I am eager to try some of its recipes, though.
Joelle Anthony
May 17, 2014 Joelle Anthony rated it it was amazing
I liked this one even more than the first one. I'm not surprised that it's got a lower rating on GR though because no one seems to love what I love. Oh, well. I'm hoping the third book will still come out, even though the author's passed away.
Mar 12, 2014 Jan rated it it was ok
This book felt comfortable somehow, and while not a bad thing, it really wasn't a good thing either. I liked a few of the characters and loved the setting, but I would have liked more depth & more risk-taking from the author. A sweet story, but not much beyond that.
May 05, 2009 Maneesha rated it liked it
Shelves: food-lit
This book picks up where Pomegranate Soup left off...and as excited as I was to read it, I kind of wish I hadn't. It wasn't a terrible book by any means, it just did not live up to its predecessor, as is the case with most sequels.

Basically, it develops the sister's lives more and also includes a new mystery character. One great thing was that this book showed us a different side of Marjan.

I really liked how Pomegranate Soup opened up each chapter with a recipe...this book doesn't. It does, ho
Oct 24, 2013 Son rated it it was amazing
As #2 in the suggested 7 book series, this book proved to be just as page-turning as the 1st. I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter and was enthused as to the mermaids background. Who was she and why were her hands like that, how did Estelle become healed, etc. The fact that Mehran brought in a bit of fantasy won me over thoroughly. I am excited for her to finish book three, four, five, etc.... I love the characters, the way the three sisters are similar but ever so different. I love the new charac ...more
Sep 19, 2008 mgd rated it liked it
I liked this book, but found it very odd. It is almost more like a young adult novel, but clearly is not. It is almost like a romance novel, but includes elements--abortion, wife-beating, and Iranian revolution, which are not likely to appear in any romance novel. It is almost like a mystery--who is the strange young girl who washed up on the beach?--but is not. The idea of 3 Iranian sisters living in a small town in Ireland sounds like fun, and while this is probably chick lit, it is not as flu ...more
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Marsha Mehran escaped the upheaval of the Iranian revolution with her family. She grew up in the United States, Australia and Argentina, where her parents operated a Middle Eastern café. She lived in both Brooklyn and Ireland.
More about Marsha Mehran...

Other Books in the Series

Babylon Café (2 books)
  • Pomegranate Soup

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