Reviews||

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec

21st Jan 2015

★★★★
The Temporary Bride Book Cover
Jennifer Klinec’s memoir, The Temporary Bride, is a treat for the senses. It’s a wonderful piece of writing which throws open the door to a much misunderstood culture, and its attitude towards women in particular.

Klinec’s life began in Ontario with an unconventional upbringing, mainly due to her parents’ having “lost their taste for hands-on parenting.” Klinec and her sister took full advantage of the resulting freedom. Thankfully, mature beyond her years Klinec admits, “by the age of ten I possessed a sense of independence that astonished my friends’ mothers.” The seeds were sown for a thirst for adventure.

After years of running a Time Out recommended cooking school from her London apartment, she suffered from wanderlust and a dead-end relationship. The solution? Klinec packed up and headed to Iran to “untangle” herself with the intention of searching for “the best, most beautiful parts of Iran.”

Klinec’s journey to Iran was spurred on by her love of food, and her desire to discover that enticing link between food and culture. Whilst her descriptions may not sit comfortably with staunch vegetarians, she does have the uncanny ability to make some quite unusual offerings (including tripe, tongue and brains) sound surprisingly appetising, especially when they come “sprinkled with cinnamon and lemon juice.” You’ll certainly be left Googling Iranian rice recipes.

The true gift of Klinec’s memoir emerges from her ability to prise open the door to a culture few of us have truly experienced. As a woman who falls in love with a young Iranian, Klinec comes up against many barriers, unfamiliar cultural views and values. The huge risks taken by Klinec and her partner, Vahid to spend small amounts of time together, create a fascinating and unnerving read.

The intimate narrative voice has a honesty to it which is more than addictive. Klinec's confusion as she tries to make sense of the unexpected emotional journey she has found herself on is acutely captured as we are whisked off with her in a new environment, new rules and new emotions.The intimate narrative voice has a honesty to it which is more than addictive. Klinec’s confusion as she tries to make sense of the unexpected emotional journey she has found herself on is acutely captured as we are whisked off with her in a new environment, new rules and new emotions.

At times The Temporary Bride feels like Iranian equivalent of Joanne Harris’ Chocolatwith its evocative descriptions of food running parallel with a personal story of great intrigue. Her narrative evolves with a calm, laid-back tone which reflects an intriguing aspect of the culture she has become immersed in, whilst also jarring sharply against the tension and passion as Klinec and Vahid seek to find a path for their relationship without breaking the law. It is this aspect which really drives you through her writing, in addition to feeling truly immersed in the sights and smells of Iranian culture.