Enlightenment: Book summary and reviews of Enlightenment by Maureen Freely

Enlightenment

by Maureen Freely

Enlightenment by Maureen Freely X
Enlightenment by Maureen Freely
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  • Published in USA  May 2008
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

In October 2005, only a few months after her Turkish husband is detained and her five-year-old son distributed to a foster family by US border patrol, Jeannie Wakefield disappears. She leaves behind in Istanbul a 57-page letter to M, an anonymous investigative journalist who Jeannie begs to write about her plight. The letter tells the story of Jeannie's first arrival in Turkey 34 years earlier, when she was a bright-eyed 16-year-old innocent shimmering with open-hearted idealism.

The letter reveals a convoluted tale of complex political intrigue, of retired intelligence operatives and Turkish teenage radicals willing to die for their right to speak out against the humanitarian outrages of their government, of a grisly murder and a dismembered body in a trunk. It is a grim and heartbreaking history of first loves shattered and best friends betrayed, and M finds herself, against her will, tangled in Jeannie's narrative. But in the "deep state" of post-911 Turkey, nobody is who they say they are, and everyone is a suspect - exactly how much will M inadvertently sacrifice to save the woman who stole her only true love?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Both mystery/thriller and mainstream literary readers will be well rewarded." - Publishers Weekly.

"Conspiracy theory, nationhood and relationships collide, often obscurely, in a multilayered and earnest, if oddly remote, tale." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Starred Review. In this ingenious novel about appearance and reality, it is difficult to predict what will happen next or what it means, but once you start this book, you will not put it down. Strongly recommended for general collections." - Library Journal.

"In contrast to Shafak's [book, The Bastard of Istanbul], her book is diffuse in its plotting and its promised revelations are obscure, but it raises equally pressing questions about Turkey's willingness to confront the inner divisions that are currently compromising not only its record on freedom of speech, but its claim to acceptance as a European democracy." - The Guardian.

"The narrative unfolds in an appropriately complex Byzantine manner, with extracts from Jeannie's writings wrapped up in the story supplied by another member of the group. I found her style rather unconvincing ... The book spins its web in and out, back and forth, and could itself have done with some tightening and cutting. Nevertheless, Enlightenment is both a gripping novel and a powerful fictional version of the argument that Turkey does not yet subscribe to the levels of democracy and human rights required if EU membership is to mean more than a passport to economic improvement." - The Independent.

""A dark Conradian drama set in a beautifully illuminated Istanbul, where the past is always with us" - Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prizewinning author of Snow.

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More Information

Freely, who grew up in Turkey, is Orhan Pamuk's English translator.

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