Set in the turbulent 1930’s and 1940’s in war torn Europe and a changing and uncertain nation of Turkey, Turkish award winning novelist Ayse Kulin, brings to life the very true story of brave men and women, diplomats and ordinary citizens, who worked to bring both Turkish nationals as well as Jews, home to safety from the growing Nazi menace.
Set primarily in France, the story highlights the tension in one well-educated and powerful Turkish family whose political roots and history go back to the Ottoman Empire that has parallels for today. The issue of interfaith marriage, racial purging, as well as the tensions of modern life in marriage, are some of the themes addressed in this book.
But the historical significance of the novel cannot be overlooked. Well detailed as to setting and plot, Kulin takes the reader on a journey that I believe accurately captures the tension and fear of those days when one’s nationality was a matter of life and death.
The train ride segment of the story (which is the concluding segment) is written in a matter that brings the reader on board the train and enables the reader to truly feel the fear, sadness, uncertainty, and hope of those aboard. The characters are real and fit into the story line in some memorable ways. The tension of uncertain identity discovery is effectively woven throughout the story and one begins to feel sometimes that certain characters are not who they seem to be!
I enjoyed this book. I believe it to be good historical fiction. However, I was disappointed with the lack of closure for Macit and Sabiha in the story line.
I rate this book a ‘very good’ read.
Note: I received an uncorrected galley copy of the book via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.