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
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
The title of this novel is proudly chosen in honor of Forugh Farrokhzad, the popular contemporary Persian poet. Her famous poem by the same title “On Loving” or “Az
“On Loving”, A Novel, is dedicated to the memory of this bold, talented woman and all the women around the world who have been attesting the taboos and discrimination against women in any form by using their voices, artistic, constructive views, works of art and more importantly professional achievements.
“The Prairies Book Review”
“Naghdi’s razor-sharp account of the complex inner lives of her protagonists and her poetic rendering of the rich Persian literature make for an intense read …”
“That I can be with you, you, all of you,
And if life repeated a thousand times,
Still you, you, and again, you.”
Lili Naghdi’s debut novel is rich, emotionally urgent portrayal of a woman’s life and the two love stories that mark it along with the exploration of the rich Persian Literature. After completing her surgery residency, the narrator Dr. Rose Hemmings decides to travel to Iran to learn about her birth parents. Secretly in love with Dean, a damaged man who is struggling with chronic depression and unable to reciprocate her feelings, Rose meets handsome Siyavash, his cousin, in Iran and their lives become intertwined.
In a sure, accomplished prose, Naghdi parse the delicate feelings of being in love and beautifully describes the way love makesa person helpless. But more than that, Naghdi’s special gift to readers is her depiction of Rose’s life, especially the two love stories that mark it. Her description of the feverish period of Rose’s early life in New York and Paris and the restlessness, the trepidation, the hopelessness that accompany it, is both tender and sensual. The intrigue, the confusion, and the sweeping passion that eventually becomes a part of Rose’s stay in Iran are depicted beautifully.The years of Rose’s blissful, intense marriage are as impressive as the early heartbreaking years of her hopeless love.
With an eye for emotional and moral ambiguities, Naghdi successfully creates winning characters: Siyavash, the ultimate lover–dashing, charming, and incredibly sexy with a real hero’s demeanor, is endearing. He has more than charm and dash–he is as selfless as one can be;Dean is more an antihero than a hero (for the most part at least), but equally charming; Rose is impressive. Naghdi handles the book’s pacing and tone with accomplished skill. However, the intensity of Dean’s passion (in the last part)is an echo of Siyavash’s passion and seems a bit over the top considering the two men are entirely different people. But that’s a minor flaw.
The satisfying denouement is utterly beautiful and will make Rose’s love story stay in the reader’s heart for long. The inclusion of the English translations of the great ancient and modern Persian poetry will delight morally serious literature lovers. Naghdi has created a fascinating love story that seems both traditional and contemporary at the same time.
A beautifully written love story.
– The Prairies Book Review
“What a great book.”
“From an early age Rose Hemmings is asked to define love, a theme that isanalyzed throughout the book and truly encompasses On Loving. Whileat the time she cannot compose a definite response, a single turning point inRose’s life has her struggling to find the answer. She continues to questionwhat love means as she narrates the story of her life.
On Loving begins with the tragedy of Rose’s beloved father, a manshe attributes her love of literature, and who urges Rose to find the truth ofher birth parents resulting in a spontaneous trip to Iran in search of answers.Just before leaving Rose’s world is once again shaken to the core as she comesface to face with a stranger who instantly steals her heart away. In a twist offate, the two fly off to Iran resulting in a storm of emotional chaos involvingfamily, secrets revealed and another man to drastically change Rose’s lifeforever.
For blatantly being a romance novel, On Loving rarely rearsthe exotic scenes of lust and passion. Instead, Lili Naghdi illustrates a lovestory shrouded in poetic anecdotes and literary quotes through the eyes of anA-typical surgeon inquiring every aspect of her ever-changing life. The storyof Rose spans decades of heartache and misfortune, deep longing and joyousfulfillment.
However, I could never completely empathize with Rose. She shows all the signsof a well thought out main character, the author thoroughly explored the mindof Rose Hemming detailing all her faults and frustrations. I could tell Naghdiheld Rose close to her heart while writing this book. The story is written inthe first person, and like so, we are bound to watching Rose make decisions thereader might not completely agree with.
Overcoming these hiccups, I found steady glimpses of genuine understanding forseveral characters. Especially in the second half of the book, Naghdi beautifulvindicates the hurricane of emotions Rose has been building up throughout thestory. Those moments of Rose carefully weighing her judgments, decisions, andfeelings are true bliss. Moreover, the authors’ literary insight is phenomenaland while at times the call back to famous authors and poets is overdone, eachexample is carefully chosen perfectly matching the mood of the scene.
Any romantic or literary buff will wholeheartedly enjoy this book. Read thebook and you will understand.”
– Literary Titan