Persian Nights
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Persian Nights

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  241 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Chloe Fowler is the most unliberated woman she knows: disarmingly delicate and pretty, and not averse to putting either attribute to its best use, married, young, and satisfied with her normal American life as wife and mother. Yet Chloe is about to be liberated from everything she has ever known—in a place where her ordinary notions of reason and reality will run headlong...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by Plume (first published March 1st 1996)
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Pulitzer Prize Finalists
28th out of 68 books — 43 voters
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Community Reviews

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John
This is another in a steady line up of novels that were recommended in appendix form at the end Francine Prose's book on reading and writing, and represents yet another author about whom I had previously heard nothing, but enjoyed. A nominee for Pulitzer Prize for fiction this work follows the travels of an american housewife (of a doctor) to pre-revolutionary Iran, who initially set off with her husband but wouln up alone. The barely alive embers of a cold marriage go out for the protagonist a...more
Helaine
Chloe Fowler is a thirty-something wife and mother with one foot in the 1950's and the other in the pre-HIV, sexually free 1970's (book takes place about 1979) who finds herself unexpectedly in an Iran on the verge of revolution sans husband. I expected some superb writing since this book was nominated for a Pulitzer. But I could not identify with Chloe (especially her lament at the end "to be good") or any other character in the book. I also found awkward the frequent change of perspective--esp...more
Les
The cover of this book screams "CHICK LIT", until you realize it was nominated for a Pulitzer in literature. Ms. Johnson is a master at plopping American characters in foreign countries, and showing the similarities and differences between two cultures. The ultimate lesson, I believe, is that nothing is what it seems on the news or on the surface, and you have to get to know people before you can make sweeping judgements. "You can't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes."
Anita
I know this book is more than a decade old but it is still relevant and really brilliant. Diane Johnson gets inside the mind of her heroine, Chloe Fowler, and creates a portrait of a woman that is lovely and poignant.
Jessica
Her best work I've read. It was fabulous. It has the whimsical Fitzgerald quality. The characters are all explored more by action than by thought. I truly loved this book.
Lauren
This book got off to a slow start, but the crescendo and denoument are certainly worth the wait. This is one of Johnson's most serious novels, delving into the condition of American doctors abroad and the Persian people at the dawn of the revolution in Iran. Although the action is witnessed mostly from behind the confines of a compound of intellectual elites by Chloe Fowler, Protagonist of Questionable Morals, Johnson manages to engender sympathy for and interest in her and the others' stories,...more
Saïdeh Pakravan
Diane Johnson has achieved a remarkable feat of describing a world far removed from that of the main protagonist in an tone neither patronizing nor spectacular. ChLoe Fowler finds herself alone in pre-revolutionary Iran, at a point o which the hinges of history are irretrievably creaking. Through the author's taut, crisp story-telling and sensuous, evocative imagery, we are taken on an unforgettable journey.
Sara
I feel kind of apathetic toward this book; it's interesting to read about pre-revolution Iran, but the characters are difficult to like -- and the only one I was able to warm to gets killed somewhat arbitrarily about 3/4s of the way in, to no real purpose. The writing is interesting, and I guess it says something that I actually finished it, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone.
Julia Cottrell
Jun 30, 2007 Julia Cottrell rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: No one
I really couldn't stand this book! I thought it was a misogynistic work by what only seems like a super ditzy author. It might be that it was written in 1986, but it just feels like the lead heroine is completely hard to respect and out of an out-dated era. She sort of floats around wondering which man to depend on next. Ick. OK, my rant is done!
Nicole
So not a big fan; I never felt connected to the characters and I also felt the author did not delve deeply into the background of the fall of Iran's shah and the implications it had for the ex-pats living in Shiraz. It was as if the main plot could have taken place anywhere - London, Miami, Hong Kong, etc. It felt very superficial and forced.
Betsy
I am not sure why I finished this book. I think I was hoping it would somehow get interesting, but it failed miserably. I had very little connection with the main character and did not find the extramarital affairs or justification of them very appealing. It was a weird book with little plot which dragged on forever!
Lynn
Chloe plans to travel with her doctor husband to pre-revolutionary Iran, but her husband was sidelined and she goes alone. Her lack of self knowledge, insight, common sense make her a weak main character and probably what ruined the novel for me.
Christy
Ughh... mediocre smut. Never really picks up. Story of a pampered, idiot, upper middle class, bored housewife who somehow ends up affair-ing her way across Iran. Read about half, paged through the rest and then chucked it.
Tatiana
enh. a kind of interesting story backdrop as it is set in Iran when the shah fell...but the story is marked culturally by when it was written (1970s woman perspective). the story is slow, and the ending is unsatisfactory.
K M
A fun, quick read, the setting of the novel is what really makes it interesting - late 1970s Iran, just prior to the Islamic Revolution. Kind of chick lit meets historical fiction.
Audrey
I tried getting through this book more than once, but it just didn't hold my attention enough. I was hoping it would get better, but I just couldn't read far enough to find out.
Kwesi 章英狮
Challenges:
Book #185 for 2011
Book #103 for Off the Shelf!
jen8998
I had trouble finishing this book, stopping and starting many times. I had trouble relating to the main character and eventually came to dislike her.
Wendy
Hard to believe this was written by a native English speaker but it was interesting if you can get past the weird style.
Niloofar
It was very Slllllllllllllloooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww read. I could have done without it.
Kelleyn
Oct 15, 2008 Kelleyn rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: women
Good but not as good as Le Divorce. A little predictable and forced.
Judy
Sep 14, 2007 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
I loved this - it gives a very realistic portrait of the expatriate experience.
Sara
Jul 29, 2011 Sara marked it as to-read
88 finalist-pulitzer prize
CharlieMaie Guzman
Awful. Awful. Awfuuuuul.
Carrie
Jan 05, 2010 Carrie marked it as to-read
Shelves: abandoned
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Julia
Julia marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2014
Mariaget
Mariaget is currently reading it
Apr 10, 2014
Marmariposa
Marmariposa marked it as to-read
Apr 04, 2014
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Diane Johnson is an American born novelist and essayist whose satirical novels often contain American heroines living abroad in contemporary France.

Born in Moline, Illinois, Johnson's recent books include L'Affaire (2004), Le Mariage (2000), and Le Divorce (1997) for which she was a National Book Award finalist and the winner of the California Book Awards gold medal for fiction.

More about Diane Johnson...
Le Divorce Le Mariage Lulu in Marrakech L'Affaire Into a Paris Quartier

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