Last Train to Istanbul
As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.
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. Mayb ...more
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.
the more you progress into the story the more you get emotionally attached, at the second half of the book I simply felt I was one of the passengers on the train...
If you're interested to know how the Germans treated Jews at the WW2 period or if you are interested in Turkish literature this book if for you.
Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin takes place prior to and during the first two years of WWII. It is a very informative historical fiction relating the empathy of Turkey to the Jews in this very dark period of history and before. In this story, we learn that Turkey took in Spanish Jews during the Inquisition after Ferdinand had thrown them out. This book centers on how Turkey aided Turkish and non-Turkish Jews wh ...more
“Think carefully. We only have one life to live. We alone are responsible for it.”
The main theme of this book is amazing and heart-breaking but I just couldn't stand most of the characters and thought that Kulin portrayed them a bit too psychologically dramatic for my understandings. The writing, or it was maybe the Serbian translation of it, left me feeling uneasy and awkward at times. I just think that this book is probably just not my cup of tea. It would probably make a good movie, thou ...more
“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
Given today's headlines concerning immigration, I thought Ayse Kulin's international, award-winning best-seller deserved a second read. In my original review in 2017, I stated I thought extended political conversations interrupted the flow of the novel. But now, today, that's what I want most to understand: the political implications of immigration, etc.
Turkish Jews, with assistance from the Turkish embassy in Paris, attempt to esc ...more
I really liked the subject of the novel. But this fact alone was not enough for me to give more than 1.75 stars. I have several reasons for my decision:
1. The translation. I haven't read a book with such a bad translation in a very long time! Knowing Turkish (albeit not good enough to read a whole novel) I usually could guess at the original sentence and this knowledge made the mistakes in translation seem more obvious to me. It appears that the translator has not a very go ...more
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 ...more
"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.
The culmination of the book is the escape of a 100 or so people on a train from Paris to Istanbul. The s ...more
As one can easily imagine things become ominous for Selva and her family. In this book we learn of the extraordinary measures which Turkey took to protect all o ...more
My only criticism is to me sometimes the writing seemed choppy and there were a few inconsistencies tha ...more
This book is about the lives of two Turkish sisters, born in an aristocrat ottoman family who were raised mostly in the Republic of Turkey. The younger sister, Selva, marries a Turkish Jew, Raphael Alfandari, and emigrates to France with him, since both are rejected by their families as the result of their inter-faith marriage, that eventually leads the story to cover the sufferings of Jews in occupied France.
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 ...more
The story is set during those six years of dreadful history of WW2. Not only the story but the way the plot and the sub-plot of the story worked out is brilliant. This book can also work as a guidebook for authors and writers to understand the art of writing a ...more
The story details what Turkey did to save their Jewish citizens, and others who weren't their citizens, who were residing in France during WWII. Excellent details and an inspiring story.
I think the translation was a little wonky in places, and that may be why the personal plot of the story seemed a little overdone. The historical part was super.
Note: Probably not for young readers--war atrociti ...more
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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 screen wri ...more