Born into privilege to one of the last Ottoman pashas, beautiful, spirited Selva is the brightest jewel in her father’s household - until she falls in love with Rafael Alfandari. Though Turkey has long been a safe haven for Jews, marriage between a high-ranking Muslim girl and a Jewish boy is strictly forbidden. Yet young love will not be denied, and Selva and Rafael defy their parents and marry, fleeing to Paris in hopes of a better life - only to find themselves trapped in the path of the invading Nazis.
But in the midst of darkness shines a beacon of hope: A handful of courageous Turkish diplomats, protected only by the tenuous neutrality of their homeland, hatch a daring plot to spirit the exiled lovers and hundreds of innocent Jews to safety. Together, they will traverse a war-torn continent, crossing enemy lines and risking everything in one last, desperate bid for freedom.
"Ayşe Kulin is a clever writer. She draws the reader into the story of the life and loves of a Turkish family in wartime, and by the time the reader realizes that she has also cranked up the tension with a rescue plot, it is too late to put the book down unfinished. For aficionados of wartime novels, as well as for anyone glued to his or her seat watching the film Argo, this is a must read." (Helen Bryan, best-selling author of War Brides and The Sisterhood)
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Disappointing, for me - it could have been so much better
A slightly biased and perhaps idealised view of Turkey and life there, much as I love the country, the people and the food. The basis of the story was good, interesting (indeed, deeply fascinating in places), well researched, and it seemed well written, as far as one can tell from the American translation. However, it could have been so much stronger, and provided greater depth. I was interested because part of my family were/are from Turkey, with links also to France and Marseilles. The children were astonishingly well behaved, so little trouble to their parents - not requiring the usual amount of attention and care, even in illness!
There is no need for that; all characters were a necessary part of the story.
Yes. Story is quite captivating and intriguing. Although some characters did not really have development, e.g. Sabiha. It feels like it was cut short.
Yes. I already have another book from her, so will be reading/listening to that next.
Sometimes the reading was a bit fast, and at the beginning it was a bit monotonous, but the pace and the style changed at the end.
No. I don't think it would be done well in the cinema, unless they tie the loose ends.