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Pomegranate Soup (Babylon Café #1)

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,375 Ratings  ·  508 Reviews
Beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small, sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of “crazed sheep and dizzying ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Random House (first published January 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Pixietweet Clip
Oct 03, 2008 Pixietweet Clip rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated every second of this pseudo magic realist ouevre. The writing is trying so hard to be eloquent and poetic but it's totally Hallmark. The writer graduated from the adjective school of writing. Yuck. Then again it's an easy read if you're in bed with the flu.

on the plus side: great recipes. little glimpse into both Iranian and Irish life.
Rebecca
Nov 15, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love to cook and read
Recommended to Rebecca by: Holyn
This book was very wonderful for what it was--a delicious mixture of food and the personal journeys of three sisters who escape Iran on the eve of the revolution and eventually make their way to Ireland. This book pleasantly reminded me of another book about the magic of food from another culture--The Mistress of Spices.

We learn of the sisters' experiences in Iran through flashbacks throughout the book, and I really appreciated Mehran's light touch in her descriptions of the sisters' painful me
...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Sep 09, 2008 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
Sometimes it is good to suspend belief and surrender your imagination to a form of magical realism which can transcend cultural barriers.
Three orphaned sisters, who fled Iran seven years earlier, have found their way to a small town in Ireland where they hope to make a home. They bring with them their heritage, their demons and their hopes for a better future. Marjan, Bahar and Layla open the Babylon Cafe in the heart of Ballinacroagh’s Main Mall. The smell of traditional Persian cooking wafting
...more
Lisa
Aug 22, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a delicious summer read. Part "Journey from the Land of No", part "The Taste of Chocolate", Marsha Mehran tells a magical tale of 3 sisters who change the village of Ballinacroagh, Ireland when they move to town after fleeing the Iranian revolution. In the process of becoming part of the community and influencing the people who live there, they begin to come to terms with their own painful past. Each chapter starts with a recipe for a Persian delicacy which is incorporated into the stor ...more
Lilisa
Set in the fictitious village of Ballinacroagh of County Mayo in western Ireland, the book opens with three sisters working feverishly as they count down the minutes to the opening of their new café – the Babylon Café. It’s here that Marjan, Berhar and Layla are planting their roots after having fled Iran during the Iranian revolution of 1979 via Pakistan to the safe shores of London. Having toiled in the U.K. for a while, they have found solace in the beautiful country of Ireland, where they fe ...more
Tina
Aug 04, 2008 Tina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love to cook and read
Journey with the Aminpour sisters as they embark on a new chapter of their lives in Marsha Mehran’s novel, Pomegranate Soup. Marjan, Bahar and Layla escape amidst the Iran Revolution and open up the Babylon Café in a small Irish village where they awaken sleeping dreams and ignite new possibilities. Anyone who has been an outsider in a close-knit community can relate to the sisters who are faced with suspicion and discrimination in their new home. Moreover, they continue to be haunted by the pas ...more
Nicole
Feb 25, 2008 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: For fans of Chocolat or Like Water for Chocolate
Set in the 1980s, three Iranian sisters set up a cafe in an Irish village to escape demons from the Iranian Revolution. First viewed with suspicion by most of the village, the sisters slowly carve a place for themselves. Lush descriptions of food and sympathetic characters make this an enjoyable and quick read. I am pleased to see that the author's second book is coming out in May 2008.
Cynthia
Jan 16, 2008 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Fabulous story of Iranian women fleeing the revolution who land in a small Irish town. Food figures in it similar to the way it does in"Like Water for Chocolate". It borders on magical realism (Irish-Iranian magical realism?)The moral of the story is that we all must change and move on in our lives. the past is always behind us and the future ahead.
Jodi
Nov 17, 2008 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This charming book is set in small-town Ireland in the 1980s. It centers around a trio of sisters who have made their way from Iran after the revolution. They're haunted by their pasts, but they're also blazing a trail for a new, more cosmopolitan Ireland as they open a restaurant and broaden the horizons of the townspeople. It's reminiscent of Maeve Binchy, but with a more exotic flair (complete with recipes). A light read.
Lara
Jan 26, 2008 Lara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an easy to read, enjoyable book. I loved the food/recipe tie-ins and found myself wanting to learn more about Persian culture and cuisine when I was finished. I like to author's gentle approach to the story and I felt like the characters were real, with the exception of the bad guy, who seemed too bitter and hateful to me. Very pleasant overall!
Emmarella
I do feel I'm being a bit harsh here. There was such lot to like about this book - I'm a sucker for a cozy novel about food, initially it seemed a lightweight derivative of "Like water for chocolate" - which is brilliant & of course you can't expect every novel to invent a new genre. There is quite a bit of interesting and quite dark material about fleeing from Iran & then her sometimes insightful & sometimes rather dismissive view of Oirland. However ultimately I found this novel re ...more
Katri
Sep 13, 2009 Katri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a lovely book. A charming story full of life, about three Iranian sisters who move to an Irish village in the 1980s and start up a café of Iranian food, creating irritation in some villagers and enthusiasm in many others. The story is warm and human, and the description of the foods and the spices almost makes me smell and taste them myself! They also sounded so delicious that I had to scan all the recipes in the beginning of the chapters so that I might try some of them mysel ...more
Imogen
Mar 28, 2009 Imogen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was on the waiting list at the library to borrow this book for AGES, weeks and weeks, and when i finally got the chance to read it, i knocked it over in a couple of days. Its a quick, simple read, but i really enjoyed it. Ive recently discovered what is known as 'food fiction', which this book falls under, and i really love the concept.

The story of three Iranian girls who escape the Iranian revolution in the 1970s and move to Ireland to set up a cafe, i loved every second of this book. I wasn
...more
Arsala
May 30, 2013 Arsala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable read that I would definitely recommend. How do three sisters from Iran end up in an Irish village? You'll have to read it to find out. The storyline kept me pulled in and although I felt the middle sister's story was left a bit unresolved, I still liked it. The descriptive prose that the author uses to describe food kind of made me hungry for something different other than the usual koobideh kabobs I order when I have Persian food hehe. Sometimes, though, the author was *so* descriptiv ...more
Toni
Mar 29, 2008 Toni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book would be great to add to the global perpectives curriculum at school. Interesting book in that it shows the culture of people in a different country. Three sisters flee from the revolution in Iran in the late 70s. They settle in Ireland which I thought was a most unlikely place for them. But they open the Bombay Cafe and try to start a new life. The most interesting parts of the book for me were the flashbacks to their life in Iran and the escape to Ireland, although their start in lif ...more
Jenny Macdonald
Light and easy reading this is a tale of 3 sisters who escape the brutal and terrorising effects of the Iranian revolution and one of their sadistic husbands. Arriving at a small town in Ireland they set up Babylon Café making sumptuous and exotic Persian foods and soon the town is seduced by such delights as fresh herb kuku, lamb abgusht and elephant ear fritters washed down with jasmine tea from a samovar. Braving the bullying and catty locals they win over the majority of the town and soon lo ...more
Heather
Mar 15, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another pleasant surprise! Picked this up off the shelf at the library and thought it was my kind of book. And boy was I right. This book is kind of Maeve Binchy meets The Kite Runner. On first glance it looks like a sweet book about three Iranian sisters who move into a tiny Irish town and open a cafe. But the flashbacks to Iran a the time of the revolution, the glimpses into the sister's lives and why they fled Iran make this a much deeper, richer book. It is also full of wonderful description ...more
Gail
Lovely story. I was looking for a book to meet a challenge requirement - a book with food in the title - and came across this one. Young Iranian sisters now living in Ireland with a restaurant. Hmm, bit fanciful, but it sounded fun. It was more than fun (a bit fanciful, yes. But I really like that!) It was a smart read. Each chapter has a recipe for a Persian dish. Each chapter had the memory of the role that dish played in their younger lives when Iran was not ruled by extremists and the law of ...more
Book Concierge
Three sisters flee Tehran for a small town in Ireland. When Marjan, Behar and Layla take over the former Papa’s Pastries to open Ballinacroagh’s first “foreign” restaurant, they are met with curious gazes and even hostility. Tom McGuire, their next-door neighbor, is furious that his big plans have been thwarted by these “Arabs” and he is determined to bully everyone in town until they girls are run off. But he doesn’t count on the magical powers of the Marjan’s exotic recipes, and the intoxicati ...more
Bibi Rose
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adrienne
Oct 26, 2015 Adrienne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults
I really enjoyed this book and its insight to both the Persian and Irish cultures. The author presents very interesting and entertaining character descriptions, although sometimes I wondered why she went into such depth on descriptions of minor characters, but overall I really appreciated the character descriptions. The food was another character, and that was very well described -- I already had an appreciation for Persian cuisine, and these descriptions made me want to hurry to my favorite Per ...more
Mel
Aug 21, 2009 Mel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story involves 3 Iranian sisters who have fled to Ireland after the revolution. They try to rebuild their lives opening a cafe in a small town. Small town life gives them the hiding place they need, but also brings on tensions between themselves and the residents.

The story starts a bit slow, but soon picks up. The characters are wonderful and a bit quirky, which I like. Their is a bit of mysticism mixed in with the culinary delights. The story reminded me a bit of Chocolat by Joanne Harris
...more
Amanda
Jun 06, 2007 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies, cooks, and anyone who likes a little magical realism.
Shelves: food-and-cooking
If you liked Chocolat, Like Water for Chocolate or Under the Tuscan Sun, all books where the sensual pleasures of cooking and food are celebrated, you will like Pomegratate Soup.
It's the story of three Iranian expatriate sisters who move to a tiny town in Ireland after spending years in England. They open a restaurant featuring the foods of their native land. Some residents of the village welcome them, while others, for a variety of reasons, distrust and dislike them.
I understand a sequel is be
...more
Noel
I just finished the book a few minutes ago and absolutely loved it. It started off a bit slow, but quickly picked up and was reminiscent of Chocolat, as the story revolves around cooking and a cafe set up in a small town by 3 out-of-towners. I especially was interested in the parts that took place in Iran and wished it had gone more in depth; also the relations between the townspeople and the 3 foreign women were interesting. The book was lovely and I'm going to copy the recipes and give a coupl ...more
Bachyboy
I had the feeling I have read so many stories like this; displaced cooks trying to make their way in a foreign country (Iranians in Ireland) and of course everyone hates them... Eventually someone softens and then gradually it all comes right.Lots of descriptions of food aromas!
Nicole
A lovely lighthearted read about a family of three Iranian sisters who move to a small town in Ireland. They set up a cafe selling Persian food and the sights, smells and tastes of the food they prepare permeates the book. THe obvious issues of 'fitting in' are explored and some of the small minded townspeople do their best to ostracise the sisters. Structurally this book isn't a masterpiece but it achieves its purpose. Best of all each chapter starts with a recipe of the dish that the sisters m ...more
Carol
Aug 05, 2008 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. The history of the Aminpour sisters' experiences and escape from Iran during the revolution and the Persian recipes woven into the story were both very interesting. The narrator's opinions about Ireland, where the sisters eventually settle and open a cafe, seemed tainted with narrow mindedness, possibly the author's own prejudices. And the conclusion of the novel seemed slapped together. Still, I did root for the Aminpour sisters and the success of their Ba ...more
Anna Hepworth
Apr 18, 2015 Anna Hepworth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Interesting story of outsiders and a small country town, with three Iranian born sisters setting up shop in a small Irish town. Beautifully written, although I found some of the characters to be a bit on the caricature/stereotypical side, particularly the more bigotted of the locals.

There was a somewhat subtle urban fantasy tinge, focusing on the elder and younger of the sisters - the middle one seemed to get the darkest of the storylines without any reflection on what her 'special nature' migh
...more
Luke Sherwood
Not everyone in Marsha Mehran’s Pomegranate Soup is sweet-tempered, but the story itself bursts with the sweetness of family, charity, and excellent food. Capturing the harrowing history of three Iranian sisters who just manage to escape the country during the revolution of 1979, the narrative finds them, seven years on, in what seems like their last chance at refuge, on the west coast of Ireland.

The citizens of this town fit into some fairly straightforward types: the town magnate/bully; an old
...more
Bunnychip9
Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran is an infectious, witty, humane story of magic realism. Set in a quaint Irish village called Ballinacroagh, it revolves around three sisters who have escaped the revolution in Iran - Bahar, Layla, and Marjan. Haunted by a violent past, the three foreigners treat Ballinacroagh as the refuge they long for in their life - with a restaurant called Babylon cafe that serves exotic Persian food.

There is nothing thought-provoking about Pomegranate Soup. The writing is f
...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...

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