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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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There are currently 21 member reviews
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  • Carolyn L. (Cincinnati, OH)
    Jews and Turkey--A Lesser Known Story
    The Last Train to Istanbul gives readers a glimpse into life in Turkey as WW II presses on the country's doorstep. It is the story of an open-minded family that will confront their daughter's decision to marry a Jewish boy only to cause Selva and her husband Rafael to move to France where they hope to find happiness.

    In France, the Nazis are escalating their efforts to round up Jews. Faced with the possible loss of her husband, Selva turns to the Turkish Consulate for help to save her family.
  • Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)
    Last Train to Istanbul
    I requested this book to review because there is so little written about Turkey in World War II. The rescue of the Jewish citizens of Turkey from Hitler's troops could only be thrilling. I thought the relations between the characters in Turkey and abroad in Vichy France would be fascinating and looked forward to learning more about Turkish culture in the middle of the 20th century. I wish I had read that book. I found this story slow and surprisingly dull, considering the situation. The women in the book mostly came off as hysterical, and the men, as calm and patient with them. Although one set of main characters was a Jewish/Turkish couple, which should have set up a lot of tension and suspense, because of their different religions if nothing else, the relationship didn't seem any different from the Turkish girl's parents. Although the Jews in France were in real danger, I didn't get that from this book. I felt distanced from the characters and their lives. Perhaps this was due to the fact that it was a translation, the author is a best-seller in her native language.
  • Chris W. (Temple City, CA)
    Train to Istanbul
    As historical fiction, I was fascinated with this story about the Turks' involvement in assisting the Jews escape from Hitler and learning more about the lives of the Turkish diplomats. The true reporting of the bravery, valor, and compassion of those who helped the Jews and other groups during WWII is always compelling. However, this was not beautiful prose, some of the plot lines went nowhere, and some of the writing seemed choppy which could certainly be due to translation. The author did a good job describing the deteriorating, scary conditions for the Jews in France, the work of the diplomats, the false sense of security that many people had living in France, the fear of being questioned by the SS and often not knowing what ever happened to a friend or relative who was taken away by the SS, and building tension during the train ride. This book had a lot more potential and feels somewhat incomplete. I would have enjoyed more detail about how this train ride was conceived and pulled together. Even so, I think it would lend itself to book club discussions and to groups interested in World War II and, specifically, the lesser known topic of the Turks' assistance to the Jews. Young people should learn about these heroes.
  • 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.
  • Bea C. (Liberty Lake, WA)
    Saving Turkish Jews
    The historical part of this book is very interesting. I had never read anything about Turkey's involvement in saving Jews during WWII. Parts of the book were filled with suspense and I had no trouble finishing the book. The only thing that kept it from being a 4 star book is that the characters were rather one dimensional and too good to be true. If you like historical fiction, this one would be good, it being a step up from a romance novel.
  • Eileen F. (Drexel Hill, PA)
    Bumpy Ride Home
    Interesting facet of WWII involving Turkish citizens escaping Vichy ruled France. The book gives a good insight into the role of the diplomatic corps in aiding citizens. Some of the main characters seemed self involved and unaware of the scope of the war. Some plot lines went no where. Also the translation seemed stilted at points during the story.
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