Mary S. (Hilton Head Island, SC)
Lost In Translation
The author may be one of the leading writers in Turkey, however this book leaves much to be desired in writing style and storyline. The characters were hard to follow as to the importance to the main theme and the narrative was simplistic and choppy. The saving grace of this work was the historical perspective of the role of Turkey in WWII and the impact politics had on its culture and society.
Vicki O. (Boston, MA)
Now I Know More about Turkey
One of the reasons I requested this book was that I didn't know much about Turkey's role in World War II. I did come away from the novel with a much better sense of how Turkey worked to protect its citizens, including Jews, from the Nazis, by jumping through hoops to get them home safely. However, as a novel, it wasn't as compelling by the end as it was at the beginning. The plot became predictable and the characters no longer held my attention. Nevertheless, It was a palatable way to learn a history lesson.
Nancy H. (Foster City, CA)
Arriving back home from a trip to Turkey this selection was waiting for me, quite a timely arrival. Having now completed Last Train to Istanbul, I am not surprised to learn that Ayse Kulin is "one of Turkey's best selling and most beloved authors". Via a most compelling cast of characters, I learned more about the incredible pressure Turkey was under from all sides to join WWII and how a few courageous Turkish diplomats used their influence and connections to save the lives of hundreds of innocent Jews. The author did an excellent job of getting us inside the head of male and female characters so we could understand the complexity of their situations and the often painful and dangerous decisions they needed to make. Given the treatment other minorities experienced across time in Turkey, I was glad to learn there actually were a group of compassionate, idealistic (in the best of ways) officials who had the courage to be humane.
Karen D. (Dedham, MA)
Getting caught up in the middle of a family with their banishment of one daughter to the celebration of another brings us to a dilemma when Hitler invades Paris. As Jewish people with passports from Turkey, they learn how to survive waiting for a train that will take them to their homeland.
Janet S. (Terrace Park, OH)
Last Train to Istanbul Review
This book was highly recommended, and I am a fan of WWII, the drama of Nazi Germany and the plight of the Jews.
The story has a number of elements and plots. It took me a little while to connect all of the dots...but once I did, I enjoyed the plot moves through Turkey, Egypt, France and Germany. I enjoyed the stories of the two sisters and their family relationships. The book totally held my interest. And, it is a part of history that many individuals in our modern world do not know about.
My criticism -- The writing was fragmented/ideas were choppy...this may be a result of the translation. Overall, the book was an interesting read, (except the part about Sabiha and her psychoanalyst), but the book had much more potential. I give the book 4 stars!
Nancy C. (Newton, KS)
Last Train To Istanbul
I love books like this because not only does it have a compelling plot line but I also learned so much from reading it. This novel takes place in the time during World War II.
There is an amazing wealth of information that I wasn't aware of about the part Turkey played in World War II.
Ayse Kulin weaves a story filled with love, intrigue, and great tension as the novel develops. I felt she crafted the characters carefully and made me want to know more about them as the story evolved. The religious and military tension in the cities of Paris, Marseilles and Istanbul were well described. All in all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-crafted story with historical significance.
Kathleen R. (Ogdensburg, NY)
Catch this train
In the 7th century BC, the leaders of Eastern Anatolia gave the people they conquered freedom of faith. In 1492, the Jews expelled from Spain were invited to come to Constantinople to live. The people of Turkey have embraced all different creeds. Ayse Kulen has taken one family to illustrate how individuals with the help and blessing of the Turkish government helped Jews escape from the Nazi's and death camps during WWII. The description of the individuals and the terrors they faced in Paris during the War are enthralling, and the suspense grows steadily like a train pulling away from a station until the very last moments of the novel. The bravery of the people involved is inspirational. The final question for all of us is whether or not we could put our lives at risk to save others as so many did during The Holocaust.