I met the Farangi Girl today. What a delight she is. Engaging, personable and full of vitality, you’d never guess she was the product of a tumultuous upbringing in pre-revolutionary Iran.
Speaking with knowledge, insight and affection for a country most of us know little about, Dartnell conveys an exotic aura of handsome British father, glamorous American mother and unconventional Iranian upbringing.
Ashley Dartnell’s autobiographical, Farangi Girl, is a deeply personal account of her life and that of her parents and siblings in a foreign land, Farangi being Farsi for foreign. Filled with intimate details of the mother-daughter relationship, bankruptcy, prison and poverty, affairs and neglect, you can’t help wonder how these children emerged from such a childhood to grow up and make successful lives. Their experiences clearly made them strong and Ashley, always trying to prove herself, went on to graduate from Bryn Mawr College, to gain an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths University.
|Ashley with her glamorous but neglectful mother|
No one outside the circle really knows what goes on within a family. So the exposure of her and her brothers’ experiences and the descriptions of family dynamics make heart-rending reading for outsiders, and surely for her family too. When asked how her family reacted to her book, she is candid. At first there were objections as painful memories were raked over, but eventually acceptance of the writer’s desire to write won out and Ashley published her book.
So how do writers deal with the delicate issue of recounting experiences shared within a family? Do you have a right to use private details of cherished memories or relate events that have long been buried and forgotten for good reason? Disclosure of private facts is tricky territory and needs to be handled carefully and thoughtfully if it is not to end in tears, recriminations or legal issues.