Libby Fischer Hellmann has been writing professionally since 2002 and is well-known for her Ellie Foreman and Private Investigator Georgia Davis series of books. She is co-founder of Fischer Hellmann Communications, which specializes in video production, speech writing, and spokesperson training. In A BITTER VEIL, Libby’s prose flows, her characters breathe, and readers will find themselves flicking through the pages and spending more time than they had planned riveted to the book. A number of reviewers said A BITTER VEIL is a significant departure from Libby’s usual books, and it most certainly is.
A BITTER VEIL is a novel of love, revolution, and how culture can force people together and rip them apart with ruthless abandon. The book is well-researched, and the people and the geography come alive. Culture, religion and politics all feature heavily but only serve to impact characters’ views or actions.
The book introduces us to students Anna Schroder and Nouri Samedi. Anna meets Nouri while browsing a bookshop. The immediate magnetism between them flourishes over their next few years at college. While the author fleshes out her characters and we see their love blossom, we also get hints of the disintegration of the Shah’s regime in Iran. While we see two people very much in love, we are shown hints of their cultural differences. In between getting involved in meetings with other students regarding the changes in Iran, we see their relationship mature, rock a little and finally cement to the point that Nouri asks Anna to marry him and come to Iran.
Their lives begin in Iran in a wild flurry. Anna struggles to find her place in a new culture where her privileged position in Iranian society allows her to see only the sparkling veneer of the modern Iran. However, Iran is a country going through a tumultuous time. This is 1978, the Shah is deposed, and the Islamic Republic rises from the ashes of revolution. Soldiers walk the streets and demonstrations are ruthlessly dealt with.
Anna finds her life drastically changed as Ayatollah Khomeini comes to power. Her western ideals are stretched to their limit and her freedom is just one of the things she will lose. But that is not the worst surprise that will tear her life apart.