Ashley Dartnell's mother was a glamorous American, her father a dashing Englishman, each trying to slough off their past and upgrade to a more romantic and exotic present in Iran. As the story starts, Ashley is eight years old and living in Tehran in the 1960s: the Shah was in power, life for Westerners was rich and privileged. But somehow it didn't all add up to a fairytale. There were bankruptcies and prisons, betrayals and lovers, lies and evasions. And throughout it all, Ashley's passionate and strong-willed mother, Genie.
Stories of mothers and daughters are some of the most compelling in contemporary memoir, from The Liar's Club and The Glass Castle to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and Bad Blood. Farangi Girl deserves to be in their company. It's an honest and endlessly recognisable portrait of a mother by a daughter who loved her (and was loved in return).
Against this extraordinary background, Ashley's journey into adulthood was more helter-skelter than most and this portrait of a bewitching and endlessly inventive mother is surprising and deeply moving.
Ashley Dartnell was born in 1960s Tehran to an American mother and an English father. Educated in Tehran, she later graduated from Bryn Mawr and earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. This is her first book.
Ashley lives in London with her husband and three children.
'Crazy, colourful, shocking, compelling. You'll read it straight through once you start.' — Susan Elderkin, author of Sunset over Chocolate Mountains and The Voices
'a vivid, gripping memoir of childhood in little-known pre-revolutionary Iran.' — Maggie Gee, author of The White Family
'Ashley Dartnell's memoir evokes 1960s Iran in all its beauty and turmoil and conjures a wilful, passionate, fascinating woman in its depiction of her mother. This is a vivid, compelling story woven from both politics and desire.' — Maura Dooley, author of Life Under Water
'captures the violence of Iran's 1979 revolution - along with finer details, such as the taste of barbari bread with butter and honey, and the exaggerated politeness ta'arof, which drives Persian social life . . . her late American mother Genie looms largest, a potently glamorous woman in the Elizabeth Taylor mould.' — Harper's Bazaar
'This memoir is both a fascinating and heartbreaking insight into a childhood interrupted . . . gripping.' — Cosmopolitan Australia - Book Club Choice
'Fascinating . . . a desperate quest for sanctuary and redemption which, in the end, discovers solace in the most unexpected of places.' — The Herald
'compelling memoir of a unique childhood and a fairytale gone wrong.' — The Gloss, Irish Times
'Amid the tumults of a family that reflected the flux of Iranian politics in the 70s, Ashley Dartnell writes her true tale of an astonishing childhood with flair and feeling. A rich and intensely addictive read which teems with the odd particulars that come from real experience - Farangi Girl is an unforgettable book.' — Martina Evans
'If there is one book I am glad I read this year - this would have to be it. Beautifully written, full of amazing characters - all the more fascinating for being real - this is the memoir of a woman who has led an extraordinary life... excellent reading.' — South Coast Register
'Engaging . . . a gifted raconteur . . . she weaves an astonishing narrative that keeps us speculating, How on earth will this end?' — The Lady
Farangi Girl is a remarkable memoir, an extraordinary story, brilliantly told. . . . intense as any page-turning novel. Right to the last page the reader wonders, what next? All of this is set against a background of seismic historic events in Iran. Compelling. — Pam Johnson
'a moving account' — Times Literary Supplement