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Dervishes - Review
I thoroughly enjoyed this engrossing story of a mother and daughter trying to make sense of their relationships to each other while also trying to fit into the claustrophobic world created by a handful of other expatriates living in Ankara, Turkey. While the father disappears for months at a time on business, Canada, a young girl of twelve, learns to navigate the landscape of the city, broadening and moving away from the rarefied atmosphere of the adults who spend their time socializing, having affairs and drinking too much. While Canada strains to move away and blend into the Turkish landscape, Grace, her mother, struggles to ingratiate herself into the inner circle of wives left behind by their traveling husbands.
DERVISHES by Beth Helms
Told from both the mother and daughter's point of view, one gets a sense of how both are floundering to find their own place in this exotic world while growing apart from each other. As the plot develops, the cultural differences between East and West begin to alter the storyline and one can feel the characters being propelled to a tragic conclusion. Well developed female characters who are flawed yet deserving of sympathy in their ignorance and an interesting plot line made this novel well worth reading. I would definitely recommend this book.
Things are not as they seem because of lies, deceits and secrets. I believe this sums up the content of this novel.
A story without a heart
Things are not as they seem because of lies, deceits and secrets .In my opinion this comment sums up the content of this novel. Grace and her daughter Canada especially are drawn into the drama, suspense, and mystery of those with whom they associate in Turkey and of the country itself. The author's technique of shifting points of view--from first to third person narrative is interestingly done. Though I was drawn into the plot and intrigue, I did not find the characters especially sympathetic; they suffer from naivete in spite of their past experiences--especially those characters who had previously lived in other countries and with other cultures. The title is appropriate, for the reader becomes cognizant of lives "swirling" out of control.
While this is a beautifully written novel, it suffers from a lack of narrative drive. A number of the flashbacks were confusing and forced me to stop reading and figure out what had happened when. The characters were, for the most part, completely unlikable. It was hard to feel sympathy for any of them. The glimpses of Turkey were interesting, but for a novel set in Turkey, there were not enough of them.
A spinning tale out of control
Dervishes tells the story of the relationship of mothers and daughters, and a woman's place in the world that she has chosen. At times, you don't care for their behavior, but their choices are few. The characters are complex,and the ending leaves you with more questions than answers.
A Taste of Turkey
Dervishes is a beautifully written novel, the characters intricately drawn, and the plot raw and yet unassuming. Mother and daughter are much alike, both distant, and difficult to grow close to as a result. However, as the story goes on, it is impossible not to feel for this family, whose members are lost and wounded, living together and yet apart.
A Year in Ankara
This book is excellent. The author doesn't explain everything that happens at once, but gives clues that accumulate until the reader understands what is going on. She uses a lot of description to bring to life the experiences of an American family living in the Middle East in the 1970s. Anyone who read and liked "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini or "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi should enjoy this novel.
Dervishes by Beth Helms
A minor criticism: If there were any dervishes (members of Muslim religious orders who take a vow of poverty) in the book, I missed them.
This swirling novel gives insight into both Turkish life in Ankora in 1975 and the families of diplomats and military personnel coping with postings in unfamiliar cultures. The characters are well drawn and it could be an interesting book group discussion choice. However it is occassionally hard to follow the rapid switching in voices. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.
This very well written novel set in Turkey in the 1970's provides a new view of the clash between West and East. In fact everything and everyone seems to be clashing: the children with their parents, the husbands with their wives, lovers, frends, just to name a few. There are some very lyrical and wonderful passages and I was kept interested by the promise of secrets uncovered....secrets which proved to be underwheming when finally revealed. I thought the loneliness, alienation and despair that most of the characters operated in was so real that the novel reeked of bleakness, Certainly not for the reader who wants entertainment, but a well-crafted, beautifully expressed and believable book.