Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/12)
It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read the first of Dodie Cross’ memoirs, an extremely funny book called “A Broad Abroad in Thailand,” and have been rather impatiently waiting on the next one, which Ms. Cross sort of promised back then. Five years is a long time to wait, but I am so glad that I have. Just like the first one, “A Broad Abroad in Iran” by Dodie Cross is effortlessly funny, which is truly an accomplishment considering the time period that it is set in.
The author’s family relocated to Iran in 1977, shortly before the Islamic revolution there forever changed the country, and in many ways the world we live in. So you can imagine that things were not exactly rosy, yet Ms. Cross managed to find a spark of humor in just about anything. It started with her misadventures in the months before the actual departure to Iran, when she was left alone in the U.S. with four children, trying to pack their entire life in boxes and rent or sell the house before joining her husband in Esfahan. If there is something that could possibly go wrong, you can bet that it will, and that period was no exception.
But her American troubles paled in comparison with the culture shock awaiting her in Iran, a male-dominated country even back then. Yet Ms. Cross dealt with it all in her usual can-do style. Reading about the day-to-day life in Iran made me realize, yet again, how lucky we are to be living where we are living. There certainly are no public stonings held here, and I hope there never will be. Luckily the descriptions of such horrors in Ms. Cross’ books are wonderfully balanced out by much more fun experiences, be it getting a really good Dorothy Hamill haircut or something that probably wasn’t much fun for her at the time, but certainly made me laugh out loud – her shopping experiences, particularly trying to shop for groceries.
I was completely enthralled by the stories, and I felt like I was actually sitting in a coffee shop somewhere, talking to a friend. Ms. Cross’ writing style is so nicely chatty that one tends to forget that she’s not an actual friend whom you’ve known your entire life. I marveled at her downright infectious enthusiasm and wonder, laughed at the charming way she described her many… let’s call them “adventures,” and I also felt her terror when things became really scary and the “Death to Amrikins” signs took the country over. I held my breath when their plane was sitting on the hot tarmac, and I actually shed a few tears when I read the very last chapter in this book. This was armchair travel at its best – it truly made me feel like I was there right along Ms. Cross and her family.
Do yourself a favor and get “A Broad Abroad in Iran” by Dodie Cross. You won’t regret it. 2