For awhile, however, the couple exists in a happy dream, as Anna, who had foundered all of her life, blossoms in the shelter of Nouri's love and in the affection of his family. She enjoys creating a luxurious abode for herself and her husband while shopping with her sister-in-law and going to elegant lunches and parties. The descriptions of Tehran in its glory days reminds me of similar stories of the last days of St. Petersburg before World War One or the summer of 1789 at Versailles, except that it occurs after I was born. What follows is to be expected, if one understands the history of revolutions, and how they are well-planned long before erupting, and yet for the tranquil life of the the Samedi family to be disturbed in any way seems obscenely outside the realm of possibility.
The debacles which turn the country upside down are a matter of public record which the author has keenly researched. Hellmann, however, gives us an inside look as only a good novelist can do. With Anna we enter the heart of darkness and despair, facing murder, betrayal, and a heartrending mystery. With her we also find the strength and the resourcefulness to survive. The novel captures a slice of recent history which many have already forgotten; it is a brilliant portrayal of existence in an Islamic dictatorship. I would recommend A Bitter Veil as a companion to such books as House of Sand and Fog and Reading Lolita in Tehran.
(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the author's representative in exchange for my honest opinion.)