Elizabeth Hunter's Reviews > The Snake Stone

The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin
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Nov 27, 10

bookshelves: uw, mystery
Read in November, 2010

The Ottoman Empire feels like a great gap in my understanding of the history of the world, which I've tried to fix over the past decade. Jason Goodwin's Lords of the Horizon was one of non-fiction histories I read and I've enjoyed his move into fictionalizing the declining days of the Empire. Set in 1830's Istanbul, The Snake Stone, like The Janissary Tree before it, explores not only the solutions to crimes, but the culture and politics of the moment, from the perspective of eternal outsider Yashim, a eunuch of the city. His tastes--from the beautiful food that he makes using simple tools, to his weakness for French women--and his friends in places high and low allow the reader a sense of what life was like in a time and place very different from our own.
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