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Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,085 ratings  ·  133 reviews
To go beyond the legacy of revolution, religious fundamentalism and veiled women and find the real people of Iran, a young Canadian dons the cloak of Islam. The result of Alison Wearing's journey is a warm, funny and shocking collection of riveting portraits and stories about the generous, irrepressible people she met. With a novelist's love of language and eye for detail, ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 13th 2001 by Vintage Canada (first published January 1st 2000)
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3.86  · 
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 ·  1,085 ratings  ·  133 reviews

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Petal Eggs
Yet another book I read that is missing from my shelves. I don't think I reviewed it though as I read it probably in 2008/9. I have the book sitting in front of me. Why wouldn't I have listed it? I wish now I had kept all the .csv files of the bookshelves instead of the newest one replacing the last. However, since I started to notice books missing in June 2014, I've been keeping all the files.

It's really distressing the number of bug affecting the books right now. GR say they can't trace the b
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is absolutely one of the most unbiased, open-minded "outsider" views on modern-day Iran that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Alison Wearing went into Iran with an open mind and an open heart, and a double dollop of tenacity and courage. She emerges a person who has viewed the country the news media doesn't want us to see. This is the country of total strangers who invite you to stay and dine at their house; of people who are concerned with whether you find the restrictions of their ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently in post revolutionary Iran it is possible to rely on the kindness of strangers. Posing as husband and wife on their honeymoon, Alison Wearing and her unrelated male companion explored modern day Iran. They had only a few words of Farsi and she was weighted down with feminine garments designed to conceal her hair and her body from the male gaze. Ordinary people who they encountered on the street offered food, companionship, and lodging. The travelers were overwhelmed with kindness, int ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This book was recommended to me by someone who shares similar reading tastes as myself - despite that this book was not very good. (I am surprised, on entering this, at the number of positive entries for this book. I did laugh at it being listed with: Travelogs of people who should get their head examined, since this is what I was thinking the entire time I was reading this book.)

I am not a fan of memoirs (or travelogs) - especially those that try to dress themselves up as something else, as thi
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Knowing very little essential about Iranian culture prior to this travel account, for me this was a compelling and informative read. I love that Wearing spends most of her writing painting pictures of the lives of those she encountered rather than blathering on about herself. My chief objection to 'The Songlines' is that I never get past the first chapter of what I've been told is a very good read, because Chatwin won't just shut up already about the exact make of his pen, and how his leather-bo ...more
Hey, let's pretend to be married, so we can go to Iran! This is not a thought I've ever had, but apparently this lady did. And I'm glad she did, it was a worthwhile read. I had read another woman-in-Iran book about a decade ago, but it was a journalist, and she didn't have a fake-husband, and it was way harder. (Aha! After about half an hour of googling I think it's Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran. I remember liking it.)

The weird part is that she kept getting invited to people's houses
Michelle Wallace
Excellent book. Shows all the beautiful, wonderful people of Iran that we don't otherwise get to see.
Rock Angel
u wouldn't realize that she's totally insane until about 2/3 of the way into her tale -- clarity is overrated! She pulls you in w/o even trying.

I for one, would like to hear what her travel companion has to say about all this. I wouldn't mind, for example, to share a strong cup of tea to get the dirt!

On an unrelated note (2012 mar):

A movie "My Tehran for Sale (2009)" presented the modern cityscape of Tehran, visually and acoustically. It's a story loosely based on real events & i think I
This book coupled with a few others I have read about Iran has really whetted my appetite to travel in this beautiful country but the likelihood of that ever happening is pretty slim. Although I only live one thousand miles away my country of Israel is seen as an enemy at least by the pariah government that continues to exist there.
This particular book was published in 2000 so the travel was a year\s before that date and a lot has developed since then mostly negative from what I can see.
This bo
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in Iran
Posing as newlyweds on their honeymoon, Canadian Alison Wearing and a male friend make a five-month clockwise tour of Iran. Wearing's travelogue describes her experiences wearing the hijab and chador, but mostly her encounters with the Iranian people, recorded in their English. What I enjoyed most about the book was the vicarious experience of meeting such kind, excited, generous people, many of them random strangers inviting the foreign couple to their homes, showing them around town, or offeri ...more
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-reads
I LOVED this book. Alison Wearing was able to bring humour to her travels around Iran. Through her narration we were introduced to kind, lovely people who opened their homes to these honeymooners and who through their stories brought a humanity and beauty to a country that often gets the short end of the stick. I particularly enjoyed the fact that this book, unlike to many other travel memoirs, was more about the people met, rather than the traveler. It wasn't about Alison's reaction to meeting ...more
Set in the early 2000s, before 9/11 and the wars in Afganistan and Iraq, this book tells of how a woman travels through Iran and the people she meets. Even though this book is categorized as a travel book, she doesn't tell you much, hardly anything about the places she sees in Iran. This is a story-- a series of stories actually -- about people. How we are the same and how we are different. Extremely engaging and well done.
Sean Howard
Dec 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most wonderful books on Persian culture. It took my breath away and gave me a different view into Iran. It was recommended to me by the most beautiful man who used to run a persian restaurant in Kensington Market. He said it would "show me his country through the eyes of one who loves it." And he was right.
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this ages ago but just discovered Alison Wearing has a new book out. This travel memoir was one of my favorites-- not just travel books--but books.
Apr 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set of travelogues about author's travels through Iran disguised as a honeymooning couple with her gay friend.
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Interesting story, but I wouldve liked to hear more from her "husband" Ian on his observations of the country, from the point of view of a gay male. ...more
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Unfortunately, I don't remember enough specifics about this to write a good review. I remember bits and pieces, like her description of her hijab, and passing out because she got so hot in it. I also specifically remember thinking this author is a kook. (She describes getting lost in China because she was so absorbed in the book she was reading that she got on the wrong train. Who does that???) I liked the stories, but didn't care for the author. She seemed rather brash and a "typical American." ...more
Ladyce West
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book shows why travel writing is alive: we are able to lead an adventurous life without having to subject ourselves to the rigors and stress of decyphering a foreign culture, a strange land, different habits or even having to mimic a language unknown to us.
Ms. Wearing's sensitive rendition of the people she met in Iran and her willingness to put herself in their care, allowed her to sketch an intimate portrait of the people: sensitive, humorous and captivating.
This book is not only informat
Caroline Cottom
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved seeing inside Iran from the point of view of a young Canadian woman who donned a chador for her trip around the country. I was able to see how kind and generous the Iranian people are. I love the practice of putting your hand over your heart when you part from someone. Wearing writes with a light touch, and parts are very humorous. Her struggle with the manteau (coat), scarf, and chador was painfully evident in every chapter. Iranians apparently have such a different view of this and con ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Refreshing account of one part of the Islamic world that is less explored, mysterious and less liked -being the representative Government of the Islamic minority. World as it was before 9/11, it definitely was a better place to live.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, it is a real pleasure to read. I think it's more of a 3.5, but I can't really give it 4. If you've been reading some heavy-hitting books and need to read something a bit lighter, but still very interesting and well-written... give this one try.
Fiona Szabo
What an amazing journey, truly insightful; the book presented a rolling stock of soulful connections showing the wonderment and struggles amid faith and humilty of Iran's everyday people.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is wonderful travel writing with all the hardship and all the heart. The author met so many generous people in Iran. Even though the book is getting old, it is still definitely worth reading.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the true story of a young Canadian woman traveling in Iran in the 1990’s. (I don’t believe the exact year of her travels is mentioned, but I vaguely remember a reference to Clinton as the US President, and the book’s copyright is 2000.)

The back of my copy of the book includes the huge spoiler of how this woman is able to travel extensively in Iran. (I HATE it when the back of a book tells me something I would rather not know before I start reading.)

I appreciate how Wearing manages t
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
"Honeymoon in Purdah" opened up a whole new world and a fascinating view of the middle east as it was before 9/11. This novel follows Wearing and her friend Ian as they travel around Iran. Wearing seems to fully embrace the Iranian way of life - taking in the sights, sounds, foods, culture, religion and people. This travel diary isn't about sights so much as it is about the people of Iran. I walked away from this novel feeling as though Iranians are some of the most generous and friendly people. ...more
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest some times a book comes along and changes your perceptions ..this was one such book.
We have all seen Iran on the T.V and within the papers and it seems just to be a wasteland overwrought by religious fundamentalism and hatred of the west...this book lifts a lid on the real Iran and although the above negatives are present within they are but a small part of the journey and within the book instead we see the generous nature of the people and far more liberalism than legend suggests.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
I picked this book up in a charity shop some time ago and it has been waiting on the shelf for my attention. This is the story of a Canadian woman travelling Iran with her "husband" It details the places and the people, and gives a little thought to the attitudes of the West towards Iran and some of the customs that draw the most attention, such as the wearing of the hijab.

This book in now 11 years old and much has happened to that country in the meantime but it was still shed an interesting li
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond its entertainment value (good - see below,) the author spent her time in Iran interacting very closely with the many different people she happened to meet. Then she impartially reports exactly how they see their world. Surprise! Like people everywhere, they don't all see things the same way. One thing that struck me was that several Iranians reported to her that they had supported the revolution, but then were, uh, **surprised** by the government they ended up with. This confirms the unde ...more
Ms. Wearing’s book is an exhaustive tale of traveling to a foreign country, one that is known for its repressive attitude towards women and foreign religions. For reasons I couldn’t quite understand even after reading them, Ms. Wearing chose Iran when almost any other choice would have been better. In order to do so, she pretended to be married to her gay fellow traveler and don a hejab, a heavy stifling garment that covered her from head to toe.

While she found it difficult navigating in the ga
An interesting travel journey across Iran, written by a young woman who pretended to be married to her male friend. Lovely to read how welcomed they were virtually everywhere they went. My one complaint is her insistence on quoting the Iranians, who showed them such hospitality, in the pigeon English they spoke to her. It makes them sound uneducated and stupid, when in reality that they encountered so many Iranians who could converse so easily in English is a testament to their education level. ...more
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Alison Wearing is the author of the internationally acclaimed travel memoir Honeymoon in Purdah – an Iranian journey and the writer/performer of two award-winning one-woman plays. Her newest book, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, is forthcoming with Alfred A. Knopf (Random House) in May 2013.


A wanderer since the age of seventeen, Alison has travelled and lived throughout Europ
“In Europe they think it is a bit barbaric, this way to look for a wife," Mohammad says to his hands, which have not stopped fidgeting since we sat down. [...] "Sometimes I believe it is barbaric how do people meet each other in Europe, you know, so often through alcohol or some kind of superficial meeting, parties or someplace other. It is so easy to… how do you call it… act as some other person. I had one German girlfriend, for two years were we together and only have I seen some sides of her, very good and kind, but only the outside, fun and happy, I could not see who was she in earnest. It was always something for showing other people.” 0 likes
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