Veil of Roses
is a romantic novel by Laura Fitzgerald, published in 2007. The story follows pretty, former schoolteacher Tamila Soroush as she travels from Iran to America to find a husband. A fish out of water, Tami is thrilled and amazed at the new freedoms she experiences. Tami’s naïve, first-person narration allows the reader to see everyday events from a fresh perspective. As Tami searches for a husband before her tourist visa runs out, her self-confidence and independence grow, and she learns to follow her heart.
By her twenty-seventh birthday, Tami has given up on her dreams. She is unmarried and unemployed and living with her parents. She has delayed an arranged marriage by pursuing a college education and becoming a teacher. But Tami resigns her position at a girl’s school after four years. Part of her job included preparing nine-year-old girls for a religious ceremony that severely restricts their freedom. Tami could no longer handle the feeling that she was smothering the girls’ hopes and dreams. Realizing Tami is depressed her parents give her a one-way plane ticket to America. She will have three months to find a suitable Iranian husband with American citizenship. Her mother makes Tami promise to “go and wake up her luck.”
Though Tami knows she will miss her parents terribly, she is excited to go to America. She will be staying with her sister Maryam, whom she has not seen in fifteen years, and Maryam’s husband, Ardishir. On the plane leaving Iran, Tami sees other women removing their headscarves and she removes her own, realizing that “she wants it all,” everything life has to offer.
Maryam has lived in Tucson, Arizona, for almost fifteen years, and Tami sees that she has all the things Tami never had: freedom, a beautiful home, even a boob job. Maryam meets Tami at the airport and swiftly helps Tami change into a red dress and heels, does her makeup, and takes her home to a waiting party. There, Tami meets the first of her suitors, only to find that Mohammed is already engaged to an American woman and has no desire to marry Tami.
Although occasionally homesick and overwhelmed by cultural differences, Tami happily embraces new experiences in America that would be forbidden to her in Iran, such as lingerie shopping with Maryam and walking alone, uncovered down the street. Tami has a passion for photography and begins taking pictures of things she sees every day that would be impossible in Iran, like fearless girls laughing and teasing each other in a schoolyard. Tami realizes she is “trying to capture freedom.”
Tami starts English conversation classes at the local library. It is her first outing without Maryam and Tami wants to walk by herself. She stops at a Starbucks where she meets Ike, a friendly barista. After a cultural misunderstanding over a free sample, Ike and Tami hit it off, but Tami knows that romance is impossible, because Ike is not Iranian.
At her English class, Tami meets a diverse group of immigrants who welcome her enthusiastically, and who eventually become close friends. There is Eva, the sexy, opinionated, German who married an American soldier; Josef, a gracious older Czech; Nadia, a Russian mail-order bride who Tami feels is either sad or shy; Agata, an elderly Polish lady and Josef’s romantic interest; Edgard from Peru; and Danny the kindly class instructor. In her first session, the group sings a song, and Tami is amazed that she can sing in public. In Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini made it illegal for women to sing in public, although now women can sing to a female audience. On the way back from class, Tami again meets Ike, who gives her a ride back to Maryam’s home on his motor scooter.
Maryam searches for suitable husbands for Tami and finds Haroun, a good-looking engineer. At an introductory dinner, however, Haroun proves to be an obsessive-compulsive clean freak: washing his hands excessively, seeing insects on the ceiling where there are none, and asking about Tami’s health. Ardishir says Tami can’t marry Haroun because “he’s a nut job!” But time is running out on Tami’s visa. Tami continues her friendship with Ike, who cares for her deeply.
Eva doesn’t want Tami to marry Haroun either. Without Tami knowing, Eva posts an internet dating ad on her behalf. Masoud responds to the ad, and Tami and Eva meet him in a restaurant. Masoud also wants a marriage of convenience. He is gay, but his elderly parents don’t know this and want to see him married with children before they die. Masoud offers to marry Tami, saying she would have her own room and they would just be good friends. In public, they would act married but otherwise, have their independence. Tami is fine with this arrangement since it means she could remain in America.
Plans move ahead for Tami and Masoud’s wedding. On her wedding day, Tami invites her friends from English class to make a wishing soup. When everyone adds an ingredient to the soup their wishes will all come true. Masoud arrives with an unpleasant surprise. He wants Tami to sign a restrictive prenuptial agreement, taking away many of Tami’s rights in the event of divorce. Tami realizes she cannot marry Masoud, and the wedding is off.
With only a few days left in America, Tami travels with her classmates to Las Vegas to see Agata and Josef get married at an Elvis wedding chapel. In her hotel room, Tami is surprised when Ike shows up. Ike declares his love for Tami and proposes. Tami loves him too, but has conditions for the marriage: at first, she wants to live alone, make her own money, and continue to date Ike, then move in together when they are ready, even though they will be married the whole time. Ike agrees, and the two are married by the Elvis impersonator that night.Veil of Roses
is followed by a sequel, Dreaming in English