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4.1 out of 5 stars635
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 13 November 2013
I enjoyed this book, very much. My idea of a good fictional read is where the novel is set in a time and place of historical interest that has been thoroughly researched. This ticked all my boxes. I knew very little of Turkey's stance during the 2nd World War, and I certainly broadened my general knowledge by reading this book. It wasn't a particularly easy read at times - the pronunciation of some of the Turkish names and places (in my head) didn't come easily - but it was very thought provoking and for several days after finishing the novel I couldn't get the essence of the novel out of my mind.
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on 3 September 2014
I felt the book gave a very authentic picture of life and the culture of Istanbul and the Turkish middle and upper classes at the time of the second world war. I also liked the inclusion of France in the story. The author made me feel the fear and frustration of the Turkish Government and their problems trying to keep Germany, Russia and Britain happy. The personal stories also kept me on edge and I felt the end was most moving. At times I felt the author was actually speaking from experience and I was completely engrossed from start to finish.
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on 3 October 2014
This is a well told story with some real highlights, and the fresh slant of the story told from the point of view of Turkey and those living there, gives it a real lift. However it has to be said that there are so many world war II stories of rescuing the Jewish people from the Nazis, that it has a lot to compete with. And after all, among those stories are the first-hand accounts such as that of Primo Levi. The theme of Jewish-Moslem marriages and the family conflicts they produce, has a resonance in our own time. For me the major highlight was the eventual escape on the train, the tension in the narrative about the train journey which is well done. and the dramatic and endearing story of the last ever performance of the violinist Asseo. However I found the prose style rather pedestrian although this may be down to the translation from the Turkish. Do not expect anything about Istanbul itself.
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on 4 November 2013
This is a heartwarming story of a Turkish family just before and during World War II. The daughter of a Muslim family marries a Jew and they move to France. It describes the difficulties Turkey had trying to stay neutral and the extreme kindness and dedication of consulate officials in France at that time. I think it would make a good film.
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VINE VOICEon 10 September 2014
Ayse Kulin, one of the most popular Turkish novelists, has written an interesting and thrilling novel centred around a Turkish family trying to escape back to Turkey at the beginning of the Second World War. For a British reader, the Turkish angle on the historical events during the early part of the war gives an unusual and interesting insight into another cultural and political view of the threat of Nazism. The characters and plot themes are well-drawn and the historical detail, from the Turkish diplomatic efforts to stay out of the war to the political situation both in France and Istanbul, is fascinating. Add to the plot the Turkish efforts to help Turkish Jews to avoid the clutches of the Gestapo and the novel becomes more than just the story of one family, it develops into a tense and nail-biting journey as the central characters become involved in the risky business of accompanying Turkish Jews on a dangerous train journey back to Istanbul.

Although the novel has lost something, I think, in the translation, this book is a tantalising, interesting, and enjoyable read. This is a train journey story with a difference.
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on 3 November 2013
Knowing nothing about Turkish culture I found this interesting. A bit slow to start, but like the train it gathered pace and the interweaving of the various chapters and stories was well done. I would recommend it - a refreshing change.
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on 4 January 2014
Having traveled by train to Istanbul some 42 years or so ago this book's titled intrigued me sufficiently to buy it without knowing quite what the plot would be about.

In fact the story proved to be riveting from start to finish. The courage of the Turkish authorities during WWII in organising a train of 'Turkish' refugees from occupied Paris made for absorbing reading.

Whether or not the whole plot is fiction or resonates from some family history is unclear (to me) but the author unusually in my reading experience, puts our humanity and dignity at a far higher level than nationalism, politics and the like.
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on 17 October 2015
I thought this book was really poor. It may be in part due to the translation, but the language used was basic. The history was naive, the narrative jumped from one main character to another and left interesting stories undeveloped, and worst of all, every opportunity for a dramatic moment seemed to be overlooked, before the whole story fizzled out predictably.
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on 3 November 2013
A gripping tale of courage in the face of adversity and the overwhelming human kindness that only surfaces at times of extreme danger.
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on 15 March 2016
Once I had managed to get my head around the Turkish names and worked out who all of the characters were, I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea of Turkey's involvement in WWII and also had no idea it was such a liberal country. (I'm assuming this is accurate and not poetic license on the part of the author.)

The fear and worry of the characters was perfectly portrayed by the author and seemed to come through very well in translation; even if some parts were a little stilted. I felt the train journey itself highlighted this particularly well and I felt the tension and emotion along with each of the charcaters.

The only thing I really didn't understand was the side story regarding Macit and Sabiha. In my opinion it didn't add anything to the main plot and seemed to come to no real conclusion at all. Most of it was unnecessary.

It's definitely worth a read if you're even remotely interested in WWII and the escape of Jews from the hands of the Nazi's.
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