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Official Review: On Loving by Lili Naghdi

27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Structure, Organization, and Pacing:   4/5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar:   5/5
Production Quality and Cover Design:   5/5
Plot and Story Appeal:   4/5
Character Appeal and Development:   4/5
Voice and Writing Style:  5/5

Judge’s Commentary:

The story opens with a mournful tone, as we approach the topic of Rose’s father dying; we get lovely background on her father and the things he loved, like poetry and literature. We’re getting depth of his character, which author wisely presents as a way for us to connect with Rose. It’s a natural narrative tool to convey essential information and how it influenced Rose. We then switch from gloomy recollections to feeling the warmth of familiarity and affection with Uncle Frankie. We see a youthful side of Rose, and so much dimension in her interactions. Well done. We’re getting some excellent sensory descriptions, such as the ‘celestial cologne’ that captivates in its description, but overall and as an enduring note throughout the book, I would have loved to see more setting description in great detail. For instance, author writes of a ‘huge, dark kitchen’ without giving us description and sense details such as any aromas, temperature, shadows, signs of use. A physical space can tell so much about characters. Bringing sensory details to all settings, inside and out, would elevate the story to a great degree, as we could then see where we are, characters can interplay with the space, and it becomes real. In the scenes about presenting gifts of jewels, silk and fabrics to the heir, sensory details would make those items realistic, sparkly. We could feel the cool smoothness of the silk. That’s what is needed here. Bring out your setting details and sensory descriptions everywhere. The pace succeeds, and we’re shaken by unexpected twists like the postpartum woman who seems fine upon release from the hospital, but ten minutes later throws herself under a truck. I loved that this detail seemed so out of character for the author, and wonderfully so. Now we have some dials turned way up. What’s this author going to do next? We’re on the edge of our seats. Inner dialogue matches well with inner thought, like wordlessly turning for a peck on the cheek when her inner thoughts are so against it. Well done. The wedding needs sensory details. ‘We sent invitations’ misses out on the chance to show the invitation design and what that says about the couple. Just a layer of description is all this needs to make the most out of the great storyline and structure.

The Prairies Book Review


Literary Titan Editorial Review




“Midwest Book Review”

Synopsis: In 1972, Dr. Rose Hemmings has just finished her general surgery residency when a haunted stranger is shot in front of her in a New York City bar, and their lives become forever intertwined. And when, having been given the blessing of her adoptive father on his deathbed, Rose travels to prerevolutionary Iran to discover the past her American family kept secret from her, she finds a true Pandora’s box. It is a world both foreign and familiar, in which her primary place is as the heiress to a great tribe. In Iran, Rose will find family she never dreamed of, her own people, and a man who loves her as passionately as he does the rare black roses of his garden. She will return to the United States carrying a new secret and torn between two men: the one she loves helplessly, and the one who loves her unconditionally. Woven throughout with Persian poetry ancient and modern, “On Loving” is the story of one woman’s lifetime of love and loss, of societal change in a nomadic people, and of overcoming personal challenges, including mental and physical health, to find true contentment. Above all, it is a story of love: its physiology, psychology and philosophy; the many forms it takes; its myths and truths; its challenges, its joys and its gifts.

Critique: The author of “On Loving”, novelist Lili Naghdi is an Iranian Canadian physician who was born and raised in Tehran. This personal background has endowed her saga of a novel with an authenticity and background detail that another writer would not be able to include. A deftly written and thoroughly engaging read from beginning to end, “On Loving” is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that “On Loving” is also available in a paperback edition (9781999497002, $18.80) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

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