The Temporary Bride

A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran


By Jennifer Klinec

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For fans of Reading Lolita in Tehran, a true story of forbidden love set against the rich cultural and political backdrop of modern-day Iran.

Jennifer Klinec is fearless. In her thirties, she abandons her bland corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London apartment and travel the world in search of delicious recipes and obscure culinary traditions. Her journey takes her to Iran, where she seeks out a local woman to learn the secrets of Persian cuisine.

Vahid is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother’s kitchen. Unused to such a bold and independent woman, he is frustrated to find himself, the prized only son of the house, largely ignored for the first time. But when the two are thrown together on an unexpected adventure, they discover a mutual attraction that draws them irresistibly toward each other–but also pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs, which soon threaten to tear the unlikely lovers apart.

Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring, intricately woven story of being loved, being fed, and struggling to belong.


Chapter One

Growing up, my memories of the kitchen were of being chased out of it by my mother. Frazzled from a long day at work but committed to putting something homemade on our dinner table, she wanted no obstacles, no potential spillages, and certainly none of our eager curiosity in the way as she rushed to peel potatoes or slice raw onions into a cucumber salad. The consequence of her efficiency was that I didn't learn to cook a thing from my mother. Not a thing.

I was born in south-western Ontario to immigrant parents. The rural county road where we lived was little more than a gravel track and a kind of wild, pioneer lifestyle was in force. People burned their own garbage and showered in sulfur-smelling water pumped up from wells. They shot raccoons and occasionally each other's barn cats with hunting rifles. A big yellow bus collected my sister and me at the end of our driveway each morning for the hour-long journey to school. It didn't take long to figure out that we were a little weirder than the Anglo-Saxon kids in our neighborhood. Carcasses of lambs or pigs were roasted over a spit on our front lawn. Thermoses of stewed giblets and cabbage were put into our lunch boxes. My mom's sour-cherry strudel stood out at bake sales against the towering Jell-O molds and Rice Krispies squares. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts weren't part of our food vocabulary. In spite of my banishment, I was as voracious and eager a child as could be. My mother's forbidden kitchen with its meaty, paprika-dense scent captured my imagination and I devoured every drop of her sour-cream-thickened stews, her fluffy semolina dumplings and the vinegary cabbage salads she crushed between her fingers.

Our house was strict and mealtimes were sacred. Unlike my classmates who ate dinner at five-thirty from plates in their laps in their basement rec rooms or in front of the TV, we rarely ate before eight o'clock and always at the table. My mother, who frequently went back and forth to fetch cold beers for my father, sat nearest the kitchen. His place close to the window was marked by a dish of olives and an empty plate for bones. Bones of all shapes were a revered item in our house and we learned early to twist chicken wings in our mouths to snap them in two and scrape our teeth against pork ribs to seek out the satisfying tear of their tasty, paper-thin membranes.

My parents were part of a generation of strivers for whom money and gain meant everything. My father had arrived in Toronto in the late 1960s with twenty-one dollars in his pocket and not a word of English. He considered his thick Hungarian accent to be his biggest curse and vowed that his own children would speak perfectly. He kept us away from the groups of other Eastern Europeans who met frequently in halls and church basements to socialize and pine for "the old country." Instead he worked day and night shifts as an electrician, said yes to anything else that came up in between and built a New World cocoon around all of us. He never returned to the flatlands of northern Serbia where he was raised, not even when his father was dying of lung cancer.

My mother came to Canada on a boat with my grandmother when she was five, sailing from the Yugoslavian port of Rijeka to Montreal. My grandmother had become pregnant with her just after getting married. My mother remembers little of the journey to Canada, only that she was sick most of the way. My grandfather, like many of his generation, was fiercely patriotic and couldn't bear to see Croatia fall under the influence of communism. While my grandmother was pregnant, he went off to join one of Yugoslavia's many wars, then emigrated via Austria to Canada, leaving them behind. My mother was born on a bed of straw in a barn that had been cleared of livestock. For five years they ate little but dried bread moistened with salted water or bean broth. Eventually my grandfather was pressured to apply for visas for them and to send money for their boat passage. My grandparents slept in separate bedrooms for as long as I can remember

My grandmother, Baba Stanešič, learned her English mainly from watching television, which gave her an abrupt, stilted way of speaking. Combined with her humorless face and the violence of her gestures, she could scatter neighborhood children off her driveway in a matter of seconds. My grandmother was nothing like the mémés and nanas of my school friends who were all cuddles, home-baked shortbread and blind, unconditional love. Our baba preferred to fill our heads with talk of death, superstition and the curses of menopause. Her walls were hung with paintings of Jesus, and her drawers were filled with Kotex. Come winter or summer, she wore thick woolen tights.

When we took her to lunch at one of the nondescript chain restaurants that filled our city, she dismissed our offers to visit the salad bar, demanding loudly that she wanted to eat meat. She wore saggy purple sweatpants under a long, navy trench coat every day except Sundays, when she wore every stick of jewelry she owned to church. Bursting with her crocheted doilies, Croatian flags, photographs of Tito and religious icons, her house had an ornate, museum-like quality, full of things I was to look at but never touch. The only times I felt close to her were on the occasions we went there for lunch, when she cooked the food of a peasant childhood. Her golden chicken broth glistened with pools of fat and swam with tiny homemade egg noodles and her salty cabbage rolls were stewed with leather-like hunks of smoked sausage. I watched in awe as she grated cabbages on a wooden mandoline, her broad shoulders and man-like arms packing them with salt into glass jars, storing them to ferment in her eerie, spiderless cellar with walls so red my sister used to tell me they had been painted with pig's blood. Her desserts were neither light nor colorful but dense, dark and unflashy, bundt sponges infused with coffee or chocolate, cakes made with cornmeal and pulverized walnuts, hazelnut crescents rolled thickly in powdered sugar.

When my sister and I were ten and eleven, on the brink of becoming teenagers, our grandmother began a campaign of counsel and advice about men—how to catch them, how to keep them, and how she believed we should make them happy. She criticized our physical appearance—the cut-off jeans and plastic flip-flops we wore, and the combs we quickly dragged through our hair—insisting that "If you want to get married, you need to wear tight black dresses and lots of makeup!" Once we hit menstruating age, she chased us away from stone fireplace hearths and boulders in the garden, cold surfaces she believed would affect our ability to have children if sat upon, and she chastised me for my long, thrillingly fast bicycle rides, claiming they threatened my virginity. She told us that, once we were married, we had a duty to keep our houses clean and our fridges well stocked or our husbands were entitled to beat us until we were shades of blue and purple.

When my parents met I imagine they were perfect for each other. My mother, who had remained an only child, was then fifteen. Her childhood was primarily a solitary one and although she'd become an attractive teenager, she was shy and inexperienced. My father was twenty-one and just beginning to feel the pangs of exile. He drank, smoked, had long sideburns and was confidently handsome. My mother tells me he thought of himself as a bit of a ladies' man. Arriving in Canada to find that his electrician's qualifications meant nothing was hard on him. For two years he resorted to driving a taxi at night while he studied English and prepared to qualify for a Canadian certification. His new life was unexpectedly lonely. No one could pronounce or spell his name correctly. No one appreciated his dry sense of humor. One day when he was working on a construction site, he told the foreman's assistant that his name was "MacKlinec" after all the Scotsmen he'd encountered, and she punched the lettering into a piece of red adhesive tape that he wore on the front of his hard hat.

My mother gave my father somewhere to nest and put down roots. My father gave my mother the affection and sense of belonging she craved. They had in common both a language (Serbo-Croatian) and a strong urge to escape their pasts. After a three-year courtship which saw my father driving three hours each weekend to see her, sleeping on the couch in my grandparents' basement, they married, just weeks after my mother finished high school. My sister was born almost immediately and I came along thirteen months later. My parents became not just husband and wife but a team, in love with each other and with who they felt they could be. Their excesses of pride and showy, physical displays of affection often drove my sister and me to leave the room from an early age, feeling that we were trespassing.

By the time I was eight years old my parents had begun to realize their ambitions and in the process lost their taste for hands-on parenting. Though their love for us was never in question, it changed into a kind of benevolent neglect. They ran their automotive manufacturing business while we became feral, wealthy children. Our bedrooms were full of the latest gadgets—VCRs and Sony Walkmans—but our birthdays went unnoticed and our clothes unwashed. We were handed keys to the house on chains and told to let ourselves in after school. My mother woke us up in the morning with a telephone call.

We took advantage of our situation by playing hooky from our strict French-Catholic primary school. I'd inform the school secretary of our absence in my best nine-year-old adult voice and on cue my sister would produce a breakfast of grape ice cream and microwave popcorn. We'd spend the day playing Monopoly and watching terrifying reruns of Dark Shadows, a far more appealing alternative to spending it under the watchful eyes of the nuns at the École St. Joseph.

Hemmed in by my parents' hunger for money and their yearning to compensate for childhoods of eating maize and cabbage while owning nothing, we began eating sirloin steak three times a week. The other nights we ordered in pizza or picked up KFC. Our luscious, peasant evening meals began to disappear. My sister, who had loathed our family traditions, was delighted but I was devastated. Our dinner table became solemn and lifeless, my parents talking car parts and volumes and shipments, while my sister and I, as silent as ghosts, ate quickly and vanished into our bedrooms.

Our humble family ceremonies—eating salamis hung in the woodshed by my father; roasting slabs of bacon on sticks over the coals of the fireplace; cooking goulash in summer in a rusty pot hanging from a chain—became a distant memory. I longed for the times when we'd sit, my mother, father, sister and me, on cheap folding chairs in the garden, my father's gypsy music on the portable cassette player, my mother's chickens scratching for worms on the lawn. Saying little, we weren't an emotional family, we ate, complimented the meal, the warm evening, the good fortune of owning land and the property around us.

By the age of ten I possessed a sense of independence that astonished my friends' mothers. It was marked officially if unintentionally by silver when my mother dropped me off at school late from the dentist. Sliding my tongue tentatively over a mouthful of new metal fillings, I raced around the sharp contours of her Lincoln Continental, which were already crusted over with early summer flies. Her outstretched hand held a brown lunch bag of veal skewers breaded in crushed Ritz crackers. Her foot was already on the gas as she placed a warm, garlicky kiss on my forehead and I had to holler to remind her that I needed a note for my teacher to explain my lateness. She rummaged through her purse for a pen. "Can't you just write the note yourself?" she sighed. I nodded, eager as always to please her, yet stunned to be commissioned with an act of forgery. My mother handed me the pen, along with an empty McDonald's French-fries packet she'd found on the floor of the backseat, and sped off to work.

From that point on, I faithfully re-created my mother's unkempt script, effectively becoming my own signatory and acting guardian. I signed my report cards and letters of consent, even my registration for high school. Every August I was deposited at the mall with several hundred dollars in cash and told to buy my clothes for the new school year. With any other child it would have been a recipe for disaster but there was never any fear I would return home with short skirts or a punk wardrobe. I viewed this freedom and autonomy as something precious, something to safeguard, giving my parents the low-maintenance child they needed most.

Adults began to speak to me like an adult, mistaking me for a university student by the time I was thirteen. Instead of seeking to prolong my youth my parents continued to be exasperated by it, by the balancing act of keeping me occupied. Their pragmatism permitted me to assume more responsibility for myself, making choices about how I spent my summer holidays. I enrolled myself in swimming and gymnastics lessons, subsisted on chicken sandwiches and Fudgsicles at the local Y cafeteria. I traveled back and forth by taxi, paying for it all with money left in a special drawer in the hallway. At the end of each day my mother expressed little interest in my progress in front crawl or the parallel bars, insisting instead on an inventory of what I'd eaten that day, seeking peace of mind that my stomach hadn't gone empty.

Little by little I began to outgrow my parents. I decided if I was to be lonely under their roof, better still to be truly alone. For spring break, while my friends went off in vans with their families to Disneyland or Myrtle Beach, I asked my mother to drop me off at our summer cottage. She waded through the snow with me to ensure I could turn the key in the door, leaving me with enough groceries to last me the week. She knew I wouldn't be scared, didn't even need to ask me. By then, she trusted I knew what I was doing. I built fires, went for long snowy walks, past all the other cottages that stood vacant. The snow on their porches was uncleared, long, pointed icicles hanging from their eaves. I vacuumed, mopped and scrubbed the bathtub, savoring the responsibilities of looking after myself. I chose to sleep in my creaky wooden bed in the smallest room, even though my parents' double bed was available. For ten kilometers in any direction I was the only living person and I learned I could happily go for days without talking to another person.

Soon I thought nothing of covering great distances alone, craving the departure, the sense of breaking away. At sixteen, I was desperate to taste life outside of our industrial Ontario city, dominated by the smokestacks of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Financed by my father and mother, and fueled by my own sheer nerve, I enrolled myself in a Swiss boarding school. In the last, final stages in the car to the airport I itched to leave as soon as possible, discouraging my parents from seeing me to the gate. It meant everything to walk those last few hundred yards unaccompanied. As I turned a corner, leaving them behind, I felt myself cry out in relief. For the first time in my life I felt truly free.

At school I made friends, staying up past curfew to gossip with my two roommates, sharing tables in the dining hall and eating lunch off trays, but I continued to crave solitude and escape. I telephoned my mother and asked her to lie about a family relative in Switzerland so I could spend American Thanksgiving alone. I booked myself a couchette to Vienna while my classmates went in small groups to Paris and Florence. With two months of German lessons, I arrived at the Westbahnhof, angering taxi drivers who didn't know the address of the tiny pension I'd written down on a piece of paper. Exasperated, they drove in circles, searching for Kirchengasse, frustrated by my pronunciation, causing me nearly to break down in tears. It reduced me to wondering what had possessed me to undertake such a thing alone, refusing to go out again that night, sitting on my narrow bed, listening to the unfamiliar sound of trams rolling past. Yet by the next morning the city felt less unfriendly, the streets more forgiving. I began to enjoy the first moments of walking through a new place, having to decipher how things worked: the structure and layout of the streets, the way to order a coffee.

For Easter and summer breaks I sought places that felt increasingly uncomfortable, looking to push myself further into unfamiliar territories. I went alone to Corsica, Iceland and Bosnia, returning each time to boarding school feeling capable and alive. Among my classmates, who whispered and flashed me looks of disdain, I developed a reputation for being aloof, but younger teachers admired my willfulness and sense of calm, inviting me for coffee and glasses of wine, or to share grown-up dinners of Brie and pâté in the small apartments they lived in off campus.

Going away alone let me retreat into something innocent and unsure—a kind of rebellion, after having become an adult so early. I learned to identify the environments I preferred: lunchrooms with oppressive wooden furniture decorated in plastic tablecloths; corner tobacconists offering muddy espressos and salami and raw-onion sandwiches; workers' canteens where the cutlery on each table stood in a single glass. Eventually I grew confident enough to enter even all-male taverns, where red-faced patrons often ate standing up at counters, smoking. I rented cheap rooms in the homes of pensioners reached by creaky tram carriages, snacking on meat fried on street corners in front of graffiti-covered apartment blocks.

I started to change how I dressed, aspiring to look less North American. I gave away my frayed jeans and moccasins, my clothes covered with logos bought at the mall. Instead I chose muted colors, knee-length skirts with boots; I wore my hair simply—tied back or cut into a bob. People asked if I was Scandinavian or addressed me in French, presuming less and less that I was a foreigner or a tourist. I enjoyed sitting alone in railway carriages, relishing my first taste of alcohol in bars, feeling mysterious and flattered when men began to stare at me for the first time. I learned I had a knack for languages, overcoming any shyness, feeling resourceful enough to speak broken Italian in Romania or to piece together scraps of Portuguese. I was soon able to decipher signs written in Cyrillic and understand everything written on packets in Dutch.

It was a sense of motion that thrilled me, that sustained my sense of progress and reminded me I had come a long way from home. The ultimate satisfaction came in airports, seeing my name printed on boarding passes, handling the increasingly worn pages of my passport as if I'd always been destined for travel. Rarely did I stuff my documents back in my pocket without pausing to contemplate my strange, distorted, Hungarian name. A name that in principle should never have strayed from the flatland villages my parents came from, that was never intended to travel further away than thirty kilometers by train.

After a year of boarding school, considering myself too old for its rules and restrictions, I transferred to a school in Dublin. I was ready to live on my own and had decided that it would be easier to do so for the first time in an English-speaking country. I rented a cheap attic apartment in a Georgian terrace on the south side of the city, overlooking Dublin Bay, and there I found the love of my life: I began to teach myself to cook.

As a seventeen-year-old living alone, away from her parents—going to a school full of O'Connells and Donnellys—I was an anomaly, probably even illegal, but thanks to a greediness for my school fees we pretended not to notice. I studied Joyce, Yeats, calculus and Russian against a backdrop of whispered theories about my perceived orphanhood. I compensated for any loneliness by attempting meals from my first cookbook, a hardcover edition called Foods of the World I'd pulled from a two-pound bargain bin during a trip to London.

I became engrossed in its descriptions of foods I'd never heard of or tasted: Iraqi polo, Szechuan hot-pot, fish roasted in banana leaves. In my primitive kitchen with its scratched linoleum floor and two-ring electric stove, I made Irish approximations of exotic recipes, using whatever ingredients I could lay my hands on. I shelled prawns and boiled couscous, chopped coriander and aubergines with my Swiss army knife. I became fond of pasta with garlic, chili and olive oil, and Moroccan lamb and chickpea stew. By the end of the school year I'd both established my culinary foothold and lost my virginity; the latter with one of my classmates, made possible by a visit to the Well Woman Clinic and its doctor who shoved me back into the street with a paper bag of illegal (in Ireland) birth control pills.

During this time my mother had imagined I'd subsisted on spaghetti and tuna fish. When I returned to Canada at the end of the year, she was shocked to see my tall, skinny frame had gained two kilos. Instead of being shunted out of the kitchen, I now took my rightful place beside her, forming a partnership as tender and sturdy as the fingerprints we pressed into the chestnut-flour dumplings that we scattered on soft tea towels. She taught me my favorite childhood recipes—crisp, pencil-thin schnitzel, fat egg noodles with blackened fried onions, a savory summer concoction of beans in paprika and sour cream that as children we'd dubbed "bean mush"—and in return I taught her gazpacho, seared tuna and spinach with chilies and mustard seeds. Through our collaboration we remedied our ill-defined mother–daughter relationship and declared culinary war on my father who was otherwise determined to eat steak at least four times a week. Sometimes, perhaps regretful that I had once been chased away from the space I now inhabited with such confidence, my mother would smile wistfully and touch my cheek with her floury, sweet-smelling hands. When I left for school we spoke on the phone almost daily and our first question to each other was always the same: "What are you having for dinner tonight?"

Throughout university in Montreal I continued to cook, discovering markets, fishmongers and the fascinating, musty shops of Chinatown. Braving the long six-month winters and regular temperatures of minus thirty-five degrees, I trudged through the snow to buy still-warm baguettes and to shop for defiantly unpasteurized fromage made by rogue Québécois farmers. My surrogate kitchen parents—Alice Waters, Hugh Carpenter and Biba Caggiano—nudged me into the culinary wilderness of raw fish, fennel, mussels and lemongrass, and in between lectures I made Shanghai noodles with black beans and clams, or fresh ravioli stuffed with pumpkin.

My moving to Britain was sudden and unexpected. I'd been out walking my dog when a man visiting from New Zealand asked me for directions. He was wearing flip-flops even though it was nearly November. We had a cup of coffee that lasted three days. Four months later we were on a plane to Glasgow with Commonwealth work visas stamped in our passports. My father was furious. He hadn't immigrated to the New World, he insisted, only for his children to turn round and go back to the old one. His expectation was that I might find a job in Chicago or eventually take over the family factory. My romance fizzled out after six months, but I chose to stay on in the UK, landing my first real job, in a large investment bank in London.

At first, I'd marveled at my new sense of importance. I had a desk. A digital phone. Not one, but three flat-screen monitors. The restrooms sparkled with marble and granite, and the walls of the meeting rooms were hung with art that cost more than the tiny Chelsea apartment I rented by the week. Corporate life brought me financial independence beyond my wildest dreams. I took elaborate holidays, I spent a fortune on clothes. I bought an apartment in an old shoe factory, relieving it of its rusting fixtures, adding glass and stainless steel. By day I rustled paper and helped the rich get richer, and by night I retreated, barefoot, into my new, perfect kitchen, cooking quasi-peasant food and feeling grateful for my luck.

Morning in, morning out, the months became years. As I found myself washed across marble foyers on a sea of polished shoes and gray overcoats, I started to itch with unease, even boredom. I craved an honest pride I rarely felt in banks where I was too straight, too reared on old-fashioned honor to thrive. I cringed at the sameness of it all; the people who had groomed themselves, gone to the right schools, mouthed the right phrases in their interviews, only to spend the next thirty years doing the minimum required to stay afloat. It was a lost, meaningless, immeasurable kind of work. Every morning I steeled myself, I dressed and combed my hair, and walked through the revolving doors into a living PR campaign. I slowly began to hate what I did. One of the best things about my adopted city was the ease of leaving it—London was the hub of the universe and there was nowhere you couldn't fly to. I sought fulfillment through the airways.

At first it was once or twice a month, and the occasional three-day weekend. Soon I was traveling five weekends out of every six and the trips became further and more severe. A 5:38 flight on Friday night would have me eating tripe in Naples by 9 p.m. The first ferry of the day back from an island in Sweden would allow time for a breakfast of crayfish and an icy swim on the way to catch my plane. Polish agritourism farms, Swiss "sleep on straw" alpine barns, a backstreet apartment in a grubby quarter of Lisbon: all became second, weekend homes. Come Monday morning, I reported to my desk straight from the airport with my hair still damp with foreign water and my shoes packed with sand and clay. I became proficient in commuting from the most authentic, distant places I could get to and an expert in living for the promise of the weekend.

I went home to Canada to visit my parents. I saw how, in the years since I'd moved to Britain, a huge gulf had grown between us. I was salaried, desk-bound and lax while they toiled in their factory, stacking parts, pouring chemicals and overseeing two long, exhausting shifts per day. My mother's hands were cracked and raw while mine were smooth and rosy. I felt shamefully reminded of the ease and meaninglessness of my life, and humbled by the pride and austerity of theirs. After five days, I landed back at Heathrow with a plan. The next day, I quit my job. A week later the carpenters arrived. They built a large oak table that seated twelve and plumbed in an industrial dishwasher. Six weeks later I had my first class. My new life, my new business, "Eat Drink Talk," was born.

Four months later I flew home again to see my mother. It was a week before Christmas and I'd been working flat out for months: sixty-hour weeks, long days on my feet, the lugging home of heavy groceries from the market. Our first evening together, we stayed up late and sat in the kitchen. She warmed up a soup of chicken and dumplings. Rubbing my eyes that were still dry from the flight, I felt my mom reach for one of my hands, tracing it with her fingers. It was chapped and sore from hours spent scrubbing pots and pans, and wiping surfaces with rags soaked in bleach. Studying it carefully, she looked back at me and I saw tears in her eyes.

"Jen," she said tenderly, raising my hand and kissing it. "You have laborer's hands. Just like your father and me."

Chapter Two

The digital clock on the front of the oven shows almost midnight when I sit on the wide, short step that leads to the kitchen. It's the usual place that I mop myself to, while I wait for the floors to dry. The scent of orange-oil soap, one capful per bucket, has come to signify the end of the day.


  • "Danger and intrigue seem more the ingredients of a novel than a memoir; Klinec's book has both, though, and combined with the smells and tastes of Middle Eastern cooking, this is an addictive and romantic read."—Booklist
  • "By turns unsentimental and tender, Klinec's book offers insight into the delicious world of Persian cuisine as well as the surprising twists and turns of the human heart. An unexpectedly moving memoir."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "A cross-cultural romance with a backdrop of Middle Eastern cuisine. Conveys the fear and excitement experienced by a couple trying to get to know each other in a strictly controlled society."—The Herald, Scotland
  • "THE TEMPORARY BRIDE is a beautifully written window into a world few of us have ever entered: contemporary Iran in all its complexity.
    Its sprawling cities and street-side eateries come to life, but most vivid is the portrait of ordinary Iranians: cooking, sharing, living, in a world where Westerners are unwelcome. A book for travellers - of the world and the senses."—The Irish Examiner
  • "This is amour sans frontiers. An adventure in a globalised world. Love laughs at rigorously controlled borders."—The Times
  • "The writing is vivid and sensual, the city of Yazd where she stays comes alive - the people, the streets, the scents, and her description of, among other things, a slaughterhouse is powerful. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a film."—Sydney Morning Herald
  • "A moving memoir about love against the odds."—Good Housekeeping's "10 best books to read this October"
  • "Klinec offers an insightful take on the status of Iranian women in a complex culture. She fills the pages with the tastes and scents of Iran. Most of all, Klinec illustrates that what we eat is about more than what we put into our mouths - it's a window into history and culture."—Chatelaine
  • "Easy-to-read, enjoyable and down to earth, THE TEMPORARY BRIDE: A memoir of love and food in Iran gives an inside look into the harsh laws of Iran and interlaces it with fantastic imagery of food, culture and love."—Glamour, South Africa
  • "Her descriptions of food are remarkable. She has a wonderful eye for domestic detail. They develop an intimacy against the odds. A forbidden love affair. They pursue this relationship in this really oppressive environment. The atmosphere is brooding. There is a lot of tension. I was really worried for them but there is a twist at the end. I think you'll have a very happy time reading this book."—Radio New Zealand, Nine to Noon Book Review
  • "The descriptions of food, aromas and places are exquisite. The characters are immensely real - flaws and imperfections intermingle with raw emotion and at times the irrational behaviour that surrounds new love. This is a memoir written with passion and honesty.
    I was left feeling as if it was a novel and I was waiting for the sequel to be written and released. I eagerly wanted to hear what happens next to these two interesting main characters."—New Zealand Booklovers
  • "Jennifer Klinec went to Iran looking for food and found forbidden love. She writes about both with equal eloquence and panache. An absorbing, page-turning tale of one strong woman's curiosity and daring that ventures behind Iran's closed doors."—Anya Von Bremzen, author of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
  • "The way the society functions comes across beautifully.. The book delves into the complexities of a non-Western society and how someone who doesn't belong strives for acceptance. If you love food and the memories built around it, this book is for you."—Earthen Lamp Journal
  • "The flavours and rituals of Persian cooking, the family's rhythms and routines, life under an oppressive regime - all is acutely observed. Although no rose-tinted vision, it does shine a light on aspects of Iran we don't see in the news - the warm hospitality, the poetic wit in everyday language. A moving meditation on love across cultures and the evocative power of food. "—The Lady
  • "Sophisticated and precocious...careful and vivid...[Jennifer Klinec's] story is far from what we expect to be reading, and all the better for it."—New York Times Book Review

On Sale
Feb 14, 2017
Page Count
240 pages

Jennifer Klinec

About the Author

Born in Canada, Jennifer Klinec lives and works in London.

Learn more about this author