Excerpt from Seraglio by Janet Wallach, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Seraglio

by Janet Wallach

Seraglio by Janet Wallach X
Seraglio by Janet Wallach
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jan 2003, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Knowing I had a way with languages, she looked at me to translate; from the label on the dress, I assumed the girl spoke French.

"What is your name, how old are you, and where are you from?" I asked.

"My name is Aimee du Buc de Rivery," she answered in a quiet voice, making me strain to hear her. "I am thirteen, and I am French from Martinique."

"And how is it that you are here?"

"My father is the owner of a great sugar plantation. He sent me to school in Nantes. I had been there for three years when he ordered me home. But I never reached my destination. My ship was seized by pirates, I was taken to Algiers, and then brought here." Her voice was a little stronger now and I began to hear the melodic rhythm of the Creole. "My father is a rich man. He will pay you whatever you want to have me sent home." The head mistress ignored the offer.

"Have you any talents? Can you dance or sew? All the girls here must sew," I added.

She smiled a tiny smile and pulled a small embroidered cloth from inside her entari. "Here is something I hid when the pirates came on board my ship." She raised her head and I could see defiance in her eyes. "It is my favorite handkerchief and I keep it for luck. I sewed it myself at school."

She held it out but the mistress refused to touch it. Standing closer, I could see the stitches and knew the girl was able. "What about music? Do you play an instrument?"

"But, of course," she answered. Using her slender hands to show how she held a violin and a bow, she pretended to play. "Bach, Mozart," she said.

A few more words from the head mistress and the girl was dismissed, brushed off like a bothersome fly. Once again she was put in my charge, and I took her through a hallway, down a narrow flight of stairs, and into the dank basement where the novices slept. I opened the door of the windowless room, and when she saw the divans lining the walls, I could tell she wanted to sit, but I threw my head back, raised my eyebrows, and clucked my tongue to tell her no.

She grabbed my arm. Her voice was as sweet as a nightingale's. "I cannot tell you how pleased I was to hear you speak my language," she said. "It has been a long time since I have conversed with anyone, and my heart twinges at the thought."

"You are not to speak French any longer," I ordered. "You are to forget the name Aimee, and who your family is and where you come from. You are in the harem now. You will learn Arabic and Turkish; you will study Islam; you will become a Muslim."

Excerpted from Seraglio by Janet Wallach Copyright© 2003 by Janet Wallach. Excerpted by permission of Nan A. Talese, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Overstory
    The Overstory
    by Richard Powers
    Many glowing adjectives can be used to describe a novel by Richard Powers: brilliant, moving, ...
  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads
    by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil

    A riveting story of survival, and the power of stories to save us.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.