February 24th, 2021

'In The Palace of Flowers': Victoria Princewill's debut novel

The Palace of Flowers, the ground-breaking debut novel by Victoria Princewill, is now published in the UK and US by Cassava Republic Press and a translation to Serbian language, by Vulkan, is already on its way.

Inspired by the only existing first-person narrative of an Abyssinian slave in Iran, Jamila Habashī,  In the Palace of Flowers recreates the opulent Persian royal court of the Qajars at the end of the nineteenth century.  Jamila's fear of being forgotten, of being irrelevant, sets her and Abimelech, a fellow slave and a eunuch, on a path to find meaning, navigating the dangerous and deadly politics of the royal court.

Torn away from their families, Jamila and Abimelech are  aware of their own insignificance in the eyes of their masters. Their quest to take control over their lives and find meaning leads to them navigating the dangerous politics of the royal court, and to the radicals that lie beyond its walls.

1880s Photograph: Kimia Foundation

Princewill vividly recreates the court of the Iranian Shah in the 1890s, a precarious time of growing public dissent, foreign interference from the Russians and British, and the problem of an ageing ruler with an unsuitable heir. Love, friendship and the bitter politics within the harem, the court and the Shah’s sons and advisors will set the fate of these two slaves.

Richly textured and elegantly written, at its heart In The Palace of Flowers is a novel about the fear of being forgotten.

“Through beautiful prose the hugely gifted Victoria Princewill transports us to another time and world, telling a story which has one wholly absorbed. Love, danger, politics, history and art, The Palace of Flowers is a sweepingly stunning tale that has it all.” Samira Salwani, Journalist

"Transporting us flawlessly to another time and world, this tells the story of two Abyssinian slaves as they navigate the politics, mysteries and drama of the royal court in Iran in the 1890s." The Continent Mail and Guardian

“With captivating storytelling skills and impressive historical knowledge, Victoria Princewill has written an awe-inspiring, dynamic and powerful novel about a part of African history that few other writers have told. In giving voice to Jamila Habashi, whose first person account is the only existing account of an Abyssinian slave in 19th c Iran, The Palace of Flowers is both restorative and illuminating while gripping the reader’s mind with vivid and seductive language.” Minna Salami, Author Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone


For further information, please contact Maria Cardona.