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Last Train to Istanbul

by Ayse Kulin

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin X
Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin
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  • Laurie F. (Brookline, MA)
    Best Read in a Long Time
    Bravo to Ayse Kulin and her translator John W. Baker for such a rich and poignant story. Last Train to Istanbul takes you on a journey with two Turkish sisters, their families and their acquaintances, all who lead separate lives during the German occupation. Despite the events, the sisters cling to one another though their memories and concerns during this dark time in during Hitler's march. Each character takes a different path, through their ideals and political survival to end up on the Last Train. A highly recommended read!
  • Anna S. (Auburn, AL)
    Last Train to Istanbul
    Often as I was reading this book I thought to myself, "I wish I could read this in the original language." The story is a good one but the language was rather stilted, presumably because it is a translation. However, I still recommend it because of the gripping story and the believable characters. The book presents an aspect of WWII with which I was unfamiliar, and it has inspired me to do some further reading on the subject.
  • Jennifer F. (Los Gatos, CA)
    Gathering steam
    Like a train picking up speed as it moves down the track, The Last Train to Istanbul pulls the reader along as the plot thickens. I became more and more intrigued with the characters and their predicament and found myself getting emotionally attached to them as they traveled toward Istanbul. I wasn't familiar with this facet of WWII history and the book revealed it in a very interesting fashion.
  • Ann S. (Shenandoah, IA)
    Last Train to Istanbul
    Translations offer the opportunity to read a different perspective without knowing the language. Readers, though, are at the mercy of the translator. Words and phrases are often difficult to translate with the intended meaning and feeling. Some are better than others; even so, the different point of view comes through.

    Ayse Kulin's book enlightened me about Turkey's position and dilemma during WW II and its affects on the people. I was also unaware of the tolerance and, at the same time, intolerance within their citizens. It spurs me on to reading more. The plot line was somewhat disorganized, but it was worth wading through it. That is the chance one takes when reading a translation.

    Overall, I really liked the book and recommend it. I look forward to another of Kulin's books.
  • Claire M. (New York, NY)
    Last Train to Istanbul
    A little known aspect of WWll, Ayse Kulin relates the efforts by Turkish diplomats to aid Turkish and other Jews out of Nazi occupied France. Although it's a compelling story, telling it as a historical novel I think compromises part of the tension of the actual events by making two sisters of a Turkish pasha the focal point. One is the wife of a busy bureaucrat and her antics don't really contribute to the story other than to introduce one of the diplomats who will be in France dealing with the solution of getting the Jews on the Last Train. The other sister marries a Turkish Jew and chooses exile in France that is the engine for the novel. However, it is Selva, rather than her husband Raphael and the other Jews, who is written as the strongest character against the almost fecklessness of the Jews and the men of the diplomatic corps who took the biggest risks. I also take exception to using current expressions in a novel about 70 years ago, which may be the translation, but nonetheless jarring.
    Having said all that, I did enjoy the book and think it's a story that should be wider known. Of those who aided Jews out of Europe very little is known about who they were and how they were able to accomplish it. I also think it's important because we don't have here in America a whole lot of into about Turkey. Istanbul was quite the place for spies and diplomats during the war and there is a sense of that here. The novel is a good starting place for those interested in these times and particularly the efforts of the Turkish government.
  • Karen D. (Dedham, MA)
    Soul Train
    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!
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