Embroideries (Pantheon Graphic Library)

by Marjane Satrapi

Paperback, 2006




Pantheon, (2006)


From the best-selling author of Persepolis comes this gloriously entertaining and enlightening look into the sex lives of Iranian women. Embroideries gathers together Marjane's tough-talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. Naturally, the subject turns to love, sex and the vagaries of men. As the afternoon progresses, these vibrant women share their secrets, their regrets and their often outrageous stories about, among other things, how to fake one's virginity, how to escape an arranged marriage, how to enjoy the miracles of plastic surgery and how to delight in being a mistress. By turns revealing and hilarious, these are stories about the lengths to which some women will go to find a man, keep a man or, most important, keep up appearances. Full of surprises, this introduction to the private lives of some fascinating women, whose life stories and lovers will strike us as at once deeply familiar and profoundly different from our own, is sure to bring smiles of recognition to the faces of women everywhere--and to teach us all a thing or two.… (more)

Media reviews

The characters are as flat as the art. With nine women telling stories and under 150 pages, there’s not much room for development beyond what they report about themselves.
1 more
...at no point does Marjane Satrapi feel compelled to spell out why she chose to turn this graphic gossipfest into a graphic novella - or how she wants us to respond to it. It speaks for itself and, to a large degree, to itself, and therein lies its subversive charm. But it is at the same time a daring and brilliantly calculated illumination of a secret space.

User reviews

LibraryThing member allison.sivak
I enjoyed Persepolis a great deal, and enjoyed this also; but in this book, I really noticed how little I though Satrapi used particularly graphic ways of storytelling. That is, this read more like an illustrated book than something which integrated image and text in a more fluid or balanced way. It actually made me want to re-read Persepolis to see if I observed the same thing.

When I read comic books, I find that while the art is the first thing to attract me to the book, I tend to read the text more than I 'read' the pictures -- at least on the first reading. Even though I read Embroideries very quickly, that I felt a little "bored" with the art made me wonder: is the novelty of words and pictures "for adults" overriding content in comics? Or in the case of Persepolis, does a powerful autobiography override the need for equally powerful art? Here, I think of David B.'s Epileptic, in which the drawing pulls the text farther than words could be alone. Satrapi creates less of a visual "world" in this book.

All that being said, it's an interesting group of stories, which speak about sex in diverse ways. It combats stereotypes of passivity that many westerners have of Iranian women. Overall, a light, quick and enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member sorchah
Her worst so far, but it's pretty good and very interesting. I feel like she didn't spend a lot of time on it, at least not as much she did with Persepolis 1 & 2 and Chicken With Plums, which are very good.

About Iranian women who discuss sexuality and their sex lives.
LibraryThing member melissarecords
Bawdy, funny and intimate. Reminds me of hanging out with the ladies in my quilt guild (husbands DO NOT want to know what gets discussed) or with my friend's large, extended family during the holidays. Curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy as the multigenerational group of women in Marjane Satrapi's book regale us with tales of love, sexuality, and relationships.
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LibraryThing member kimlesliewu
Very quick read. I thought the stories were fascinating, but I didn't think the illustrations -- although entertaining -- added much. I would have preferred more descriptive storytelling. I am interested to read Persepolis and see how it works as a movie.
LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
Very cute, although come on, it takes half an hour to read - these stories could have easily filled out Persepolis and given it more "What it means to be a woman in Iran" punch. But they are adorable, and would make me feel so good about my gender if I was - you know - a broad.
LibraryThing member name99
The same sort of deal as Persepolis, but less political and, therefore, less interesting.
LibraryThing member candidcass
Full disclosure: I'm a little sentimental when it comes to Satrapi's work. Persepolis, an assignment for a class in college (for which class, I don't remember) was the first graphic novel I ever read and I loved it. I even declared that I was going to read every graphic novel, ever (still working on that).

In this edition to the series, Marjane is sitting with her female relatives after dinner, drinking tea and telling stories about love and relationships. At 144 pages, it's definitely a quick read, I especially enjoyed the reason for the title--it's not as innocent as it seems!… (more)
LibraryThing member duck2ducks
This graphic novella tells the story of a midday samovar, and the stories the women tell after all the men have kicked off for a nap. The stories are fascinating, funny, infuriating and stunning; the true meaning of the title of the book is somewhat horrifying, but most of the women speaking of it laugh at the idea. As ever, Marjane provides us with a window into a culture where so much is completely alien and different to the Western viewpoint, and yet so much remains the same.… (more)
LibraryThing member wandering_star
Embroideries takes us through an afternoon of gossip about life, love, men and marriage. It may seem a pretty insubstantial subject, but there is a lot to like about the book. Apart from anything else, it's pretty remarkable to be able to make an entertaining graphic novel about something which is essentially a group of women sitting round drinking tea. But Satrapi achieves this - often through her ability to convey vivid gestures and facial expressions in only a few lines.

The ribald gossip of the women is lots of fun. Some of the problems they come up with are pretty specific to Iran, but the tone is so familiar that you feel as if you could be sitting there, with any of your friends, joining in the same conversation.

Friend: "It's true that I had four kids. Four!! But I still have never seen the male organ. He came into the bedroom, he turned off the light, and then Bam! Bam! Bam! And voilà, I was pregnant! What is more, I was granted four girls. So I've never seen penises!"

Grandmother (waves hand dismissively): "Quite honestly, you haven't missed anything."
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LibraryThing member Mind_Booster_Noori
Good book from Marjane Satrapi, not as good as Persepolis, but in the same style.
LibraryThing member frizero
It is fascinanting how Marjana Satapri was able to return to the same universe from her worldwide famous series "Persepolis" and present us such a wonderfully fresh and funny piece of art such as this "Embroderies". It is impossible not to identify someone of your relations in the stories and little secrets of those female characters, although they are all so much linked to the recent (and unique) story of Iranian women.… (more)
LibraryThing member pattijean
I enjoyed (The Complete) Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, so was excited to read this. I'll admit, I didn't know why it was called Embroideries...I was surprised!! This was a really interesting look at the sex lives of several Iranian women. It was really funny, but fascinating to hear about how marriage in their society works, and how women are often exploited.… (more)
LibraryThing member ChicGeekGirl21
Satrapi's sparse follow-up to her Persepolis books is entertaining, but not very substantial. In it, Satrapi and her older female relatives and friends discuss men, sex, and relationships--their stories ranging from tragic (a 13 year old forcibly engaged to a 69 year old man) to hilariously absurd (one women uses a bit of "white magic" to get her lover to propose to her). Tellingly, none of the stories are about relationships that are entirely fulfilling. While Embroideries is a fun, quick read, it definitely lacks the meat of Persepolis.… (more)
LibraryThing member chibiju
This book was funny and charming. Full of tales from the strong and lively women of Satrapi's family, this book is endearing and you will find yourself going back to it just to reread these stories.
LibraryThing member debnance
seem to be warming a little to graphic novels, mainly through my reading of this author. Her books aren't quite as jarring to me as most graphic novels I've read and the conversation bubbles are so strikingly inane. While this may not seem to be a hearty recommendation, this is my strongest endorsement of a graphic novel to date.… (more)
LibraryThing member Shopoholic
This book stands alone from the Persepolis books, but I'm still glad I read them first. The art is even more detailed in this book. There is more humor, and the content is much more adult. If you could be the fly on a wall while many women talk about their marriages, and their first sexual experiences, this might be what you would overhear. I love the voice, the pacing, and the jokes are international!… (more)
LibraryThing member mjmbecky
Embroideries is an interesting, and often funny look into a group of Iranian women chattering about their lives, loves, and sexual histories. Taken from some of the characters we know from Persepolis, there is a feeling of already knowing some of the characters introduced in the story, and there is a sense of irony and satire built into the stories they tell, as the women go around the circle, bemoaning their lost loves, nagging husbands, and sexual dissatisfaction. One key theme that ran through many of the stories was that of lost virginity. I thought that the paranoia and anger, in most cases, that these women felt about their lost virginity to be an interesting theme, as modern plastic surgery has found ways of reversing virginity and making a woman appear whole again. While some of the women felt their stories of bitter love or anxiety over lost virginity to be tragic, others within the group laughed and waved away the cultural expectations placed on them, expressing how Iranian women needed to be more like "western" women. Overall, I thought the adult issues surrounding women, especially in the Iranian culture shown in the book were quite interesting to consider. Out of the two graphic novels I read this week, this was definitely my favorite of the two, if for no other reason than the camaraderie that was built between these women.… (more)
LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Marjane, her mother, her grandmother, her aunt, and their friends gather for an afternoon of tea and conversation, and, as groups of women are wont to do, they wind up discussing men, love, sex, and marriage both in and out of Iran, and swapping stories of faked virginities, infidelities, plastic surgeries, and arranged marriages.

Review: Graphic novels work because they strike a balance between text and picture, with each complementing the other, and the combination adding something more than the sum of their parts. There's a delicate balance between what parts of the story you tell through words, and what parts through pictures, but when a graphic novel is done right, that balancing act should be invisible. In Embroideries, there's a distinct imbalance between the words and the pictures, and the words are clearly winning. It's a very text-heavy book, but just enough is told through the pictures that I can't really call it an illustrated story, either, and this imbalance wasn't what I was expecting, and didn't sit quite comfortably with me as I read it. The stories themselves were interesting enough, although not particularly meaty. It sort of seemed like the take-home message was "Iranian women talk about sex, too," which... I think I already knew that from reading Reading Lolita in Tehran. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It was cute and fast-reading and interesting enough, but it's not nearly up to the standard Satrapi set for herself with Persepolis.
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LibraryThing member melydia
This was my first graphic novel in quite a while. The art style was very simple, like it had been drawn with black Sharpie, yet amazingly expressive. The framework is of a group of women (the author and her relatives) sharing tales of past relationships. Some of them are funny, some are sad, but all are memorable. It's also a very quick read; I finished it in a single sitting. I'm not sure so sure it needed to be a graphic novel - most of the drawings are just of women's faces speaking - but it worked well in this format all the same. I'll be on the lookout for Satrapi's more famous work, Persepolis.… (more)
LibraryThing member sdunford
This graphic novel from the author of Persepolis, focuses around proper Irani matrons talking amongst themselves about their husbands, their lovers, and their lives. It is marvelously saucy and a little bit naughty while still being real, warm, and oddly comfortable. My only problem was that it was way too short. I would have liked to visit with these ladies for a much longer time.… (more)
LibraryThing member PhoebeReading
Cute. I enjoyed this more than Satrapi's memoir Persepolis, which I felt was a bit uneven, especially in light of the glowing praise I'd heard of it. Sometimes, I feel like her simplistic style--in both story telling and drawing--does what might be her central themes a little injustice. She's more of a reporter than a really creative writer. She might glaze the tops of controversial or deep topics, but she rarely delves below the surface. This frustrates me, especially in her longer work! But here, the casual reporting fits the chattiness of the hen party pretty well.… (more)
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
Embroideries, I think. Maybe they just talk embroidery while discussing other things, I think. Cause that would be me. Nope, this is all about the sex livexs and complications of the lives of Iranian women and their different experiences of sex, marriage and love in Iran.This is not a continuation of Persopolis, but a side story, a combined story of many sessions over tea with her grandmother and other women and their gossip about sex, love, marriage and dilemmas. It's funny and tender and a lot of fun, though there were a few moments I squirmed, particularly when I realised what the title referred to.… (more)
LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
By far one of the best graphic novels I have read this year. Marjane and the women of her family regularly gather to have tea and gossip. Through the gossip of her elders Marjane and the readers find out about the heartbreaks of both marriage for love and marriage for convenience. The stories are funny and heartfelt. Since the tales all revolve around love gone wrong, the reader can see the strength in all of the woman who survive these heartbreaks and are still able to raise families and become strong independent people.… (more)
LibraryThing member periwinklejane
I read this book in about 1/2 an hour ... liked it a lot but perhaps I didn't give it much of a chance. I picked it up immediately after finishing Persepolis, and by comparison, Embroideries is a bit of fluff. Good fluff! Shocking and funny fluff, but the premise (a group of Iranian women talking sex and girl-stuff at tea one afternoon) didn't allow the stories to be as moving as they could have been. They came rapid-fire, with little character development, so none of the stories took hold the way they could have for me.

Still, a nice little, "Oh, how small the world is - we all have the same worries" kind of book, mixed with some examples of what's expected of women in Iran.
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LibraryThing member BenjaminHahn
An interesting little family conversation via graphic novel form into the private lives of Iranian women. A few cultural anecdotes are thrown in to keep the story interesting. I would have preferred more creative illustrations like that of Persepolis, but the story was still fun to read. Every time I read a new Satrapi book, it feels like I'm getting another chapter of her family's history. It's a unique and enjoyable experience.… (more)


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