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Bettie's Books

A Stuga On the Cusp of the Orust Riviera, tucked away next to a hobbit hole in the woods.

Last Train to Istanbul

Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel - Ayse Kulin

bookshelves: e-book, autumn-2013, translation, published-2002, turkish-and-or-ottoman-root, wwii, historical-fiction, net-galley, nazi-related, anti-semitic

Recommended for: Wanda
Read from September 10 to 11, 2013


ARC via NetGalley. Many thanks.

Translated by John W Baker

Opening: ANKARA 1941

Even though, when leaving that morning, Macit had warned Sahiba that he would be late coming home, his good manners made him uneasy when he realised it was already past eight o'clock.

A fictionalised account of a true story that gives the interested reader yet another angle on how it was for others suffering the catastrophe of World War II.

News breaks that war is nearly on the very doorstep of the city during a Friday afternoon card game that the weak and anxious Sahiba is attending. Whilst her girl-friends dismiss the news by turning off the radio, Sahiba makes her getaway with an excuse about picking up her daughter from ballet.

The main problem that is tearing at Sahiba's chest is her sister, the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, who is in Paris with Rafael, a handsome Jewish son of an esteemed Sephardic* court physician. These two had married regardless of family feelings and had fled to the French city to start out a new life.

General Petain
Now there are yellow badges and labour trains.

This is an uplifting tale across international borders. A fully detailed account of acts of bravery in the face of personal threat and national identity. This book would have benefitted with editing out the bagginess, yet the story is valid and highlights the need for there to be religious freedom everywhere.

Recommended for those who enjoy a different viewpoint of WWII.

* From page 123: Beyazid II [1448-1512], the eighth sultan of the Ottoman Empire, issued an invitation to the 250,000 Jews by Spain to come to his country.