Not Without My Daughter

by Chandra Sundeep
Book cover not without my daughter

How far would a mother go to protect her daughter? The answer to the question lies in this book, which is the true story of the struggle of Betty Mahmoody and her daughter. 

An American woman Betty Mahmoody visits Iran for a 2 week holiday along with her Iranian husband Dr. Sayyed “Moody” Bozorg Mahmoody and daughter Mahtob. Unluckily for her, the brief visit soon turns to be an imprisonment. ‘Not without my daughter’ journals her journey to Iran, her life in Iran (from 1984 to 86) and the daring escape from the clutches of her husband to reach back home to America.

Betty, a divorced woman, falls in love with Moody, an osteopathic anesthesiologist, and gets married in 1977. In no time, she starts enjoying the elevated status in society as a doctor’s wife. However, life turns for the worse when her husband convinces her to visit his family in Iran in 1984.

The story then onwards is all about the difficulties she faces there, be it the culture shock, I knew that women in Iran were required to keep their arms, legs, and foreheads covered, but I was surprised to see that all of the women airport employees as well as most of the female passengers were wrapped almost completely in what Moody told me were chadors or the changes in her husband’s behaviour, ‘As the days passed, Moody increasingly seemed to forget that Mahtob and I existed. At first he had translated every conversation, every idle comment. Now he no longer bothered.’

From a loving husband, he transforms to a controlling psychopath, even indulging in physically abusive behaviour. Betty, despite being surrounded by hordes of Moody’s relatives, finds herself alone. The souring relations between Iran and the USA add to her woes as she has to face the wrath and hostility of Iranians towards her home country. With the help of her friends and some strangers, she undertakes an arduous journey, risking both her and her daughter’s life, to make her way back home.

The descriptions of the people, their behaviour and lifestyle feel crude, but of course they stem from her experience there. However, this book is not a reflection of all Iranian families or their culture. This is her experience with one family and doesn’t mirror most Iranians. But beyond all that, it is about a determined mother’s struggle in a foreign land to protect her daughter. A must read. 

Wordsopedia rating 4.8/5

Title: Not Without My Daughter Author: Betty Mahmoody
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 1987
Genre: Non – Fiction (Memoir) Format: Hardcover, Paperback
ISBN: 9780552152167 No. of Pages: 420

Buy your copy here at Amazon

About the Author

Betty Mahmoody is an American author and public speaker best known for her book, Not Without My Daughter, which was subsequently made into a film of the same name.She is a member of the AEI Speakers Bureau and she travels the country telling her story. She is also the President and co-founder of ONE WORLD: FOR CHILDREN, an organization created to promote understanding between cultures and to protect children from the potential dark side of bi-cultural marriages.


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