Meike's Reviews > Red Dress in Black & White

Red Dress in Black & White by Elliot Ackerman
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really liked it
bookshelves: usa, turkey, 2020-read

This is a novel about personal and political dependence and manipulation: Ackerman creates a complex web of relationships that are determined by love, friendship, and power - and sometimes, these three categories are surprsingly hard to distinguish. Catherine, a failed dancer, flees the United States and thus her family and lost dreams to become the wife of Murat, a building tycoon in Istanbul. Her latest affair is with Peter, an American photographer who has received a grant by one of Catherine's friends at the American embassy - the same friend who helps Murat defend his dwindling real estate empire. When Catherine decides the leave Murat and go back to the States with their son, the fragile equilibrium is threatened...

Those personal entanglements play out during the Gezi park protests, where Peter takes pictures that become metaphors for acknowledging the reality of people whom the authorities try to silence, for the meaning of chance and the power of facing oneself (the title-giving woman in the red dress features on some of these pictures). As the story progresses, the tactics of the American embassy become clearer and clearer, and it is instructive to keep in mind that Ackerman, a highly decorated soldier and former White House Felllow, really knows a thing or two about foreign intelligence.

The story contains numerous flashbacks and changes of perspective, thus revealing the viewpoints of various characters and allowing readers to judge their actions and put together a picture for themselves. It is really hard to sympathize with self-absorbed Catherine, which only adds to the story: She pressures the people in her life through her passivity, trying to pass on responsibility and then blaming others for the decisions she refused to make. Murat and Peter, on the other hand, want to act, but are held in check by other forces which prevent them from doing what they envision. And what is the motivation of these other forces? In a way, this is a deeply psychological text.

So this book is not as brilliant as Waiting for Eden, but certainly a highly interesting investigation into the connection between the personal and the political, into dependence and dignity and the way people use each other under pressure, either real or perceived.
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Reading Progress

December 3, 2019 – Shelved
December 3, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
December 3, 2019 – Shelved as: usa
May 14, 2020 – Started Reading
May 14, 2020 – Shelved as: turkey
May 17, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020-read
May 17, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Sarah Ahh so jealous you have a copy! Look forward to your review :)


Meike Sarah wrote: "Ahh so jealous you have a copy! Look forward to your review :)"

Thank you, Sarah, I hope Ackerman won't disappoint!


Elyse  Walters Thank!!! 💕


Elyse  Walters ThankS!!! 😊. Great review

I’d like this book!


Meike Elyse wrote: "ThankS!!! 😊. Great review

I’d like this book!"


Thanks, Elyse!


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