Chicken With Plums in one sitting, excitedly expecting another Satrapi book I could cherish and wish I'd bought instead of getting it out of the library. That's... Not exactly what happened, and there are a few reasons for that I can pinpoint. But we'll talk about the book itself first.
Embroideries takes place over the course of one afternoon- after lunch while the men are napping, the women of the household get together over tea and talk. So, even though the whole thing would theoretically take place over a few hours, the book spans years and thousands of miles and the stories of a number of different women, giving one meaning to 'Embroideries'. There is another one, but we're not going to discuss that, in case you want to read this and totally raise your eyebrows a lot when you do.
So. Embroideries is good in the sense that I read it in about an hour (graphic novels, yo) and it held my attention for all that time and all that good stuff. Graphic novel-wise, it's interesting in the sense that it doesn't follow the conventions of having separate boxes on the page, and it's a lot more free-flow. I read a thing that said that that showed confidence and also energy or something, so let's go with that as a good explanation for it. Anyway, I liked the way it looked.
But. My main problem with this book is that it barely passes the Bechdel Test. I mean, the entire thing is women having a conversation, but pretty much all they talk about is men. Their husbands, women they knew who married this guy, vaginas and their state of use/non-use... It all gets to be a little bit tiring. I mean, I get that this is Iran, and so who you marry, and being married is all very important, being 'pure' is even more important, and being a single, independent woman is practically a crime. But... Just one story that involved politics, maybe? Or something about someone's cat or whatever? I don't know, it was just a bit... Jolted my feminist bone a little bit.
I might be overstating this a tiny bit. I don't want to make it sound like the women just sit around talking about men in a fawning, disgusting, subservient way, because it's not like that at all. There are stories about affairs (both pre- and extra-marital), about advising women how to fake virginity, about fighting against forced marriages... These are no angels, and they're not supposed to be angels, and it's refreshing to see Iranian women presented in such a way. But, at the same time, plastic surgery is talked about like it's a necessary evil, and they still basically just talk about men.
So. I don't really know where I end up on this. I enjoyed Embroideries fine while I was reading it, even if it left me a bit hollow afterwards, and it really seems like an accurate depiction of what Iranian women talk about when there are no men around. That doesn't mean I have to like it, but that's the way that is. But still, just... Maybe read Persepolis instead? Yeah, do that.