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Nefes Nefese

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  3,782 ratings  ·  394 reviews
Tarihi ve güncel gerçekleri kurguyla harmanlamaktaki ustalığı ile bilinen Ayşe Kulin, Nefes Nefese adlı bu romanında okurlarına bir kez daha dünyanın farklı bir yüzünü aktarıyor. İkinci Dünya Savaşı döneminde yaşanan bir öykü Nefes Nefese. Avrupa'yı kasıp kavuran ve tarihin en acımasız gerçeklerinden biri olan Nazizm'i, dönemin Türk diplomasisinin korumaya özen gösterdiği ...more
Paperback, 372 pages
Published 2007 by Everest Yayınları (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Margitte
Advanced Reader's Copy(ARC) - uncorrected proof - from NetGalley.
Pages:442

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Istandbul, Ankara, Paris 1941. "Spring arrived hand-in-hand with sorrow." Turkey was between a rock and a hard place. Britain demanded them to become an ally; Germany was threatening; Russia wanted Kars, Ardahan, the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles. Choosing the losing side would have had dire consequences for Turkey. They learnt their lesson well after the first world war.

It was not only a unsett
...more
Natalia Pì
Finished. Finally! I say finally because it took me too long due to a busy period...
It also took me long because, well, it's a very interesting story, but I must also say, it's not very well written. Or maybe it's a matter of translation? I can't read Turkish, so I'll never find out. I must say, though, that the editor - who is thanked in the final pages of the book - really didn't do a good job, there are so many tiny mistakes in language that got to me very much, in a 460-page book. Maybe I'm
...more
Theresa
This is the story of two sisters Sabiha and Sevla from a wealthy Turkish Muslim family who are given a liberal education at French and American schools in Turkey. Sabiha makes a good marriage to a diplomat. However, when Sevla marries a Turkish Jew she and her husband are shunned by both their families so they flee to France to make a new life for themselves. Their hopes for the future are short-lived when France is occupied by Nazi Germany.

The book is not so much about the sisters but about the
...more
Lilisa
The story begins in Ankara in 1941. Germany has begun its march against Europe, although Turkey is still a neutral country. Sabiha and Selva are daughters of a wealthy Turkish Muslim family living a rather carefree existence - of refined schools, elegant parties and social talk. But headstrong Selva falls in love with Rafael Alfamdari, son of a Jewish doctor. Much against her father's wishes she marries Rafo, suffers the consequences of her father's wrath and moves to Paris with Rafo to start a ...more
Sharon
I very nearly abandoned this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it.

"Last Train to Istanbul" is the story of two privileged sisters, Sabiha and Selva, living in Istanbul. Sabiha follows her culture's expectations by marrying a man of the same faith and who has high ambitions within the new Turkish government. Selva follows her heart, marrying Rafael ... a Jewish man. Both Rafael and Selva are rejected by their families, and so they move to Paris where they will be more accepted.

However, it's the 19
...more
Vasha7
I would never have opened this book if it hadn’t been given to me by a good friend. I consider it my duty, then, to read it – but not to give it a good review, sorry friend. I knew I would have trouble when I was able to count seven clichés on pages 10-12 alone. That’s the translator’s fault, though. On the other hand, the problem of excessive exposition is the author’s. I go back and forth trying to find something positive to say… Young Tarık is a fairly interesting character, and the plot deal ...more
Pamela
“After all is said and done, what is life anyway? Aren't we all going to die in the end? I believe life is only worth living if, while we’re on earth, we can do honorable things.”

“Last Train to Istanbul” is a phenomenal WWII novel set in Turkey and France, with one of the elements being a love story, and another being clandestine extractions of Jews via the Turkish government and foreign ministers aided by private citizens, from certain imprisonment/annihilation carried out by the Vichy as orde
...more
Celia
I got a copy of this book from Netgalley to review.

I don't easily give 5 star reviews but I thought this book was a top historical novel. I call it a top historical novel because it sheds light on a piece of history that I did not know and works very well as a novel.

The book has two themes. The first theme is that it is about two sisters in an aristocratic Turkish family where one marries someone in the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the other marries a Turkish Jew and has to move to France becaus
...more
Ví
I chose this book because the blurb had me hooked. I love WWII stories and was intrigued by the influence of Turkey during WWII, it was such an eye opener! This also involved intermarriage of a Muslim girl and Jewish boy which was interesting to read about. Turkey's neutral stance during WWII had a significant impact on the outcome of the war but it is not a topic that has had much coverage in contemporary literature. I did come away from the book with a better understanding of the people and hi ...more
Brianna
It's hard to review this book. The synopsis is rather incorrect because it misleads you to believe that this is mainly the story about a couple. But it's not. It's more a collection of stories about Turkish people and how WW2 and the Holocaust affected them. It's a different view that most Americans don't know about - how many of us even think of how that time period affected Turkey? The writing itself seems rather choppy, it doesn't flow that well. But I can't help but think that could be due t ...more
Merry
Very interesting, culturally and historically. Translated from Turkish, left the writing a little awkward in some places. This book gave me an entirely different framework for WWII in France, and an appreciation for a country that worked diligently to keep it's Jewish citizens safe and to get them safely home. Turkish diplomats walked a tightrope and clearly stated to Germany that their Jewish citizens living in France were under the protection of the Turkish government. From the perspective of ...more
Sarah Went
Somehow five stars do not seem enough for this book, I just loved it.
The story introduced me to a part of European history that I was not entirely familiar with and yet it was written in a way that made me understand the timeline of the story from a Turkish perspective rather than the British one that I am more knowledgeable of. I find with some books that are translated into English the writing can be quite stilted, but with this book it flowed beautifully. I found myself drawn into the charac
...more
Drea
Today, I finally finished this book. I swear, I feel like I started this book forever ago and right now, I’m just glad that it’s over. The only reason I continued through it is because it was an audiobook and I needed something to listen to on my commute.

Anyway, I selected the book because of the Goodreads description. I felt like it was going to be a gentle love story with touches of war related drama. Instead, it was a disjointed semi-love story involving what I considered to be a somewhat dys
...more
Mandy
This page-turning and absorbing novel tells the story of two Turkish sisters just before and during WWII. Sabiha is married to Macit, who has an important government post, and through his eyes we see the negotiations between Turkey and the warring nations. Selva has defied her family to marry Rafo, a Jew. In view of both families’ opposition to the marriage – although Turkey was relatively tolerant of Jews, inter-marriage between a Jew and a Muslim was frowned upon - they decide to move to Franc ...more
Lianne
Last Train to Istanbul was a fascinating read. It was interesting to see Turkey’s perspective as World War Two builds up and explodes across Europe. This novel interplays the personal drama of Selva and her family and the obstacles they face with the political situation and the actual figures involved in the diplomatic efforts. The events of World War Two and the treatment of the European Jews fit in with Selva’s personal story and her disagreements with her father and her family over the subjec ...more
Lauri Rottmayer
I was originally attracted to this book because Istanbul is the number one spot in the world I want to visit. I don't think I knew that it was about World War II. I do love reading stories set in WWII and this book is EXCELLENT!

The story tells of two sisters and a family in Turkey. The older sister marries a diplomat who is extremely involved in trying to keep Turkey out of WWII. The younger sister falls in love and marries a Jewish man. They then leave their families to live in France where th
...more
Jim
Set in the turbulent 1930′s and 1940′s in war torn Europe and a changing and uncertain nation of Turkey, Turkish award winning novelist Ayse Kulin, brings to life the very true story of brave men and women, diplomats and ordinary citizens, who worked to bring both Turkish nationals as well as Jews, home to safety from the growing Nazi menace.

Set primarily in France, the story highlights the tension in one well-educated and powerful Turkish family whose political roots and history go back to the
...more
Tracy
I was surprised to see so many mixed reviews on this book. I absolutely devoured it! I will preface by saying I do love historical fiction and seem to be particularly intrigued by Holocaust stories. I have never read a book by a Turkish author and after recently discussing a friend's recent trip to Turkey, I thought it would be an interesting read. Kulin's story follows two Turkish sisters, Sabiha and Selva. Sabiha marries a Turkish diplomat and lives in the Turkish capital, while Selva marries ...more
Holly
This is an interesting story but not terribly well written though it might be more the fault of the translation...I can't tell which is the culprit. The premise is good in that the book is based on the role of the Turks in WWII and their willingness to remain neutral. In doing so they tried hard to protect their people (no matter what religious beliefs, e.g., Muslim or Jewish) as well as those (many Jews) who needed protection from the Germans. At the heart of this book is the interplay between ...more
Lucy Houser
Entertaining melodrama that informed me about Turkish history during WWII. I had had no idea of the courage of the Turkish Diplomatic Service, which saved thousands of Jews, both Turkish and non-Turkish. Necdet Kent was an especially brave diplomat, who boarded a train full of Jews on the way to the concentration camps, and was able to free the entire train car load of 80 Jews.
Claudia
In the beginning it was an extremely slow read. To be honest, I put it aside several times feeling I had made a mistake choosing it, as I just could not stay interested.

While in the first several chapters the second world war is in the background it started off as a family saga, which frankly bored me. The more the story went from what was happening in one sister's marriage in Turkey towards the life of the diplomats in occupied France, the more I was drawn into the story. To be honest, while I
...more
Caroline
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice
Like a lot of reviewers, I too almost gave up at the beginning - I don't think the translation is very good and it does make the writing seem very stilted at times. However, I was really glad I persevered as I was increasingly drawn into the characters and the story.

I really enjoy historical fiction and this was incredibly interesting - I had no idea of the role of the Turkish government in trying to save their Jewish citizens from the Nazis and so I learnt something completely new and fascinati
...more
Catherine Eby
The translation for the book was occasionally bland, but the overall story was absolutely engrossing. What a wonderful look at the lives of people living in a horrific time. I would absolutely recommend this book to those interested in the history of WWII.
bengi altinbilek
I was sceptical

I have not read Ayse Kulin for over 15 years. so I was not sure what type of a taste this book would leave in my mouth. I dreaded the first 50 pages of Sabiha's annoying nags but I really liked Paris, Marseille and the train parts. it reflects the damage of war so captivatingly, that it is not only about bombed cities,acute desolation but how it shreds the spirits of individuals, groups and societies even in its perimeter. in the end I was really happy that I decided to read this
...more
Christoph Fischer
"Last Train to Istanbul" by Ayse Kulin is an excellent piece of historical fiction centred around the diplomatic efforts of Turkey to recall its citizens (including Jews) from Nazi occupied territories to bring them home to safety during WWII.
Written in a very engaging prose and bringing some heart breaking private dramas into the historical events this book is very informative, insightful and accomplished.
Believable and likeable characters populate a cleverly written plot, well paced and full o
...more
Sandy
3.5 - 4 Maybe

Thoroughly enjoyed the Surprise historical basis of Turkey in WWII was a real eye opener to a history buff like me, and oh boy it really was world war. Part of the story revolves around Turkey trying to stay neutral from pressure from allied and axis powers to join "them", along with staving off Russia, who was using the ally card to get into (and maybe take over)Turkey. The main theme revolves around how Turkey rescue their Jewish pats and bring them home via a one train that has t
...more
Ilona
Interesting story but not well written

The background for this novel - Turkey's work to rescue not just it's own citizens from the Nazis, but others as well - is an interesting one. The central characters are Muslim sisters, proud of Turkey's secular government. One marries according to convention. Another marries a Jewish man and, because of her family's anger at her choice, moves to France. Once Hitler invades France, Selva and her family are in danger and she goes to the consulate for help. Wh
...more
Sue
Interesting story. I "read" the audio version, and I had some difficulty with the narrator's reading inflection ... not his words, which were very clear and easy to follow, but the dictionary's definition of inflection: a change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or attribute such as tense, mood, person, number, case, and gender. synonyms: stress, cadence, rhythm, accent, intonation, pitch, emphasis, modulation, lilt, tone.

The story is about Turkish ci
...more
Sundarraj Kaushik
The author takes one to Turkey during the tumultuous days of World War II. Turkey was doing its level best to stay out of conflict while it was being constantly pushed by Russia, the British and the Germans. The book sees this through the eyes of two sisters. The elder one is married to a diplomat working with the Turkish Government. The second one has married a Jew antagonizing her father and is living in Paris.

As the German's occupy France and start picking on Jews in France, the Turkish Gover
...more
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Ayşe Kulin is a Turkish contemporary novelist and columnist.
Kulin graduated in literature from the American College for Girls in Arnavutköy. She released a collection of short stories titled Güneşe Dön Yüzünü in 1984. A short story from this called Gülizar was made into a film titled Kırık Bebek in 1986, for which she won a screenplay award from the Turkish culture ministry. Kulin worked as a scre
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Adı: Aylin Veda: Esir Şehirde Bir Konak Sevdalinka Füreya Umut: Hayat Akan Bir Sudur

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“After all is said and done, what is life anyway? Aren’t we all going to die in the end? I believe life is only worth living if, while we are on this earth, we can do honorable things.” 2 likes
“Love is like a flame; it burns itself out eventually,” 1 likes
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