I usually only review "J" books, especially picture books and illustrated stories. "Seven Daughters...", however, is exceptional in that it shows that a female can be smart, learned, clever, wise, loving, self-sacrificing, etc. I enjoyed this book very much and feel it serves us all well. Enable women and you improve the entire world.
Why I didn't like this:
- It started off well, but then there is a huge time-skip between when Buran set off and when she got rich. We don't get to read about the trials and tribulations that help shape her into a successful business person. A huge loss of opportunity, I think.
- A similar situation happened with the relationship between Buran and the prince. We don't really get to see them becoming friends. They just are, after a few mentions of hanging out. Show don't tell!
- The prince is shallow, callous, and selfish. Why would a strong-minded and unique woman like Buran fall for a man like that?
This story comes from an 11th-century Iraqian folktale and deals with one clever girl’s rise from adversity and poverty to becoming one of the richest women of her generation. Artfully weaving historical fact with rich local color, “Seven Daughters and Seven Sons” is a terrific addition to stories about strong-willed, powerful and intelligent women.
Stories about women who don men’s clothing in order to succeed in a man’s world are rife throughout fiction (think of Disney’s “Mulan”, “Victor, Victoria” and any number of Shakespearean plays, e.g.). What makes Buran’s tale so gripping is her absolute conviction that she comes from a history of women who were prominent in the arts, warfare and politics. She’s not doing this to make a name for herself or simply to escape a prospect of an unhappy marriage but because she knows deep in her heart that she can do it and that her whole family’s future rests on her success.
This story also shows how Buran’s decision and actions have far-reaching consequences not just for her but the people (mainly men) who come into contact with her. It is frustrating to see that her mother feels her actions are merely behaviors that can be cast aside once she returns home so that Buran can settle down to the serious business of getting married. But change in thought, especially in older generations, is always slow to arrive. What matters is that Buran succeeds in her own way and, surprisingly, is able to continue once she doffs her disguise.
This novel is one of the finest I’ve ever read about cunning women and deserves widespread reading for a contemporary generation.
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