Ayşe Kulin – Last Train to Istanbul

This was a beautiful and uplifting tale of love and family and the ties that hold us together.

The story took quite a while to get going, we are introduced to Selva and Sabiha, two sisters from Muslim Turkey, who are about as alike as cats and dogs. Sabiha has always been jealous of Selva, but when Selva decides to defy her parents and marry a Jewish man, she is cut off from her family without a second though. She decides to move with her husband to France to be away from both their disapproving families, but it soon becomes clear that it might have been a mistake when France is occupied by the Nazi Germans.

Once the book got going, the tension was palpable, and you felt all the heartbreak, trepidation and fear felt by the characters. The risks that some of the took to save their fellow countrymen and friends made you wish more than anything for their safe journey.

Although the train journey itself was the most thrilling part of the book, I did very much enjoy the first part of the book where we find out more about family ties and the structure that holds the family together. I do think that we possibly spent a bit too much time stuck inside Sabiha’s head, but it did make sense I guess. I would have preferred to have more of Selva’s thoughts and fears though.

Although the book wasn’t based on real-life characters, the plot about the Turkish government rescuing it’s citizens on trains from France was based on real life events. I found it to be quite heart-breaking that these things could need to happen. And the stories of some of the citizens on board the train really wanted to break my heart.

The only negative I have was not of the book, but of the audio book. The narrator of the audiobook made a valiant attempt to do the accents, but they came off sounds incredibly dodgy, especially the women. It made me want to laugh out loud, I’d much rather they used an actual woman (turkish or not) for the voices.

Considering I only decided to read this book because the cover caught my eye, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and I would definitely recommend it. As I said before, it takes a while for the story to get going, but it’s definitely worth sticking with it!


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