The author of Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi, returns with a light collection of stories involving the sex lives of her female relatives, Embroideries. After a family meal, as the women clean up, they discuss the history of their loves and relationships.

There’s a certain amount of prurient interest involved in hearing these respectable foreign women talk about their most intimate secrets. The introduction reveals the grandmother, the instigator of the discussion, to be a thrice-married opium addict, setting the stage. The following tales involve arranged marriages, faking virginity, affairs, and gossip.


Satrapi has a simple, flat, primitive style that contrasts with the maturity of the subjects being discussed. That’s not a bad thing; the children’s book look keeps the reader from getting too caught up in the more disturbing aspects of the subject, such as the surgery that gives the book its title. These women laugh about tricking men, but they’re part of a culture where a non-virgin claiming “My father will kill me [if he finds out]!” could really mean it.

The characters are as flat as the art. With nine women telling stories and under 150 pages, there’s not much room for development beyond what they report about themselves. At times, I got some of the nine women confused visually, as well. This is a brief read that’s entertaining enough, but I recommend waiting for the paperback and its hopefully reduced price.

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