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Publisher's Summary

Born into privilege to one of the last Ottoman pashas, beautiful, spirited Selva is the brightest jewel in her father’s household - until she falls in love with Rafael Alfandari. Though Turkey has long been a safe haven for Jews, marriage between a high-ranking Muslim girl and a Jewish boy is strictly forbidden. Yet young love will not be denied, and Selva and Rafael defy their parents and marry, fleeing to Paris in hopes of a better life - only to find themselves trapped in the path of the invading Nazis.
But in the midst of darkness shines a beacon of hope: A handful of courageous Turkish diplomats, protected only by the tenuous neutrality of their homeland, hatch a daring plot to spirit the exiled lovers and hundreds of innocent Jews to safety. Together, they will traverse a war-torn continent, crossing enemy lines and risking everything in one last, desperate bid for freedom.
©2002 Ayşe Kulin (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Ayşe Kulin is a clever writer. She draws the reader into the story of the life and loves of a Turkish family in wartime, and by the time the reader realizes that she has also cranked up the tension with a rescue plot, it is too late to put the book down unfinished. For aficionados of wartime novels, as well as for anyone glued to his or her seat watching the film Argo, this is a must read." (Helen Bryan, best-selling author of War Brides and The Sisterhood)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By M.L.L. on 11-21-15

A disorganized mess.

2 1/2 stars. This book sounded so good. Unfortunately the result is an uncohesive compilation of POVs of more than 14 characters. Many of the vignettes are barely related to the storyline. Most of the characters aren't even likeable. I listened to this book on audiobook and most of the voices are annoying as well. The husbands are all verbally abusive to their wives. One man even rapes his wife. The psyciatrist is especially loathesome. He seduces his patient while psychoanalyzing her. Let me undress you as you tell me about your relationship with your 8 year old daughter. Creepy! Near the end there was suddenly an erotic semi-public scene between two random characters. It was unexpected and made me uncomfortable. I didn't even know these characters so I skipped ahead. Then I discovered it was actually a rape by a random german soldier. Next we had a minor character die in his sleep. Neither of these scenes or characters were really plot pertinate. Finally we come to the finale we have all beeen waiting for. The relief of safety and the long awaited reuniting of estranged families. Except it cuts off before you get reuniting of estranged families. Except it cuts off before you get closure. A book full of background details of minor characters fails to provide details of the resolution of the main plot and characters. It was unsatisfying.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Anna at a Wondrous Bookshelf on 05-21-15

3-Stars

Last Train To Istanbul is a beautiful work of historical fiction about two privileged Muslim Turkish sisters–Selva and Sabiha. Sabiha marries a prominent Turkish diplomat, and Selva falls in love and marries a Turkish Jew–Rafael Alfandari. Selva and Rafael are shunned by her family, and move to Paris shortly before the Nazi German invasion in World War II.

What I really appreciated about this novel was Ayse Kulin’s extensive research about that period of history, and I loved to learn about WWII from a Turkish perspective. It’s a beautiful story of hope and courage. Many times WWII books are difficult to read due to the horrible accounts of the Holocaust, but this book kept me very interested and the narration by Sanjiv Jhaveri was just perfect. His accent and all the accents portrayed were essential to the atmosphere of this book.

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction and WWII novels.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Pen on 06-19-15

Disappointing, for me - it could have been so much better

What disappointed you about Last Train to Istanbul?

A slightly biased and perhaps idealised view of Turkey and life there, much as I love the country, the people and the food. The basis of the story was good, interesting (indeed, deeply fascinating in places), well researched, and it seemed well written, as far as one can tell from the American translation. However, it could have been so much stronger, and provided greater depth. I was interested because part of my family were/are from Turkey, with links also to France and Marseilles. The children were astonishingly well behaved, so little trouble to their parents - not requiring the usual amount of attention and care, even in illness!

Would you ever listen to anything by Ayse Kulin again?

No

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes

What character would you cut from Last Train to Istanbul?

There is no need for that; all characters were a necessary part of the story.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Jeanne on 06-18-15

Interesting story

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes. Story is quite captivating and intriguing. Although some characters did not really have development, e.g. Sabiha. It feels like it was cut short.

Would you be willing to try another book from Ayse Kulin? Why or why not?

Yes. I already have another book from her, so will be reading/listening to that next.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Sometimes the reading was a bit fast, and at the beginning it was a bit monotonous, but the pace and the style changed at the end.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

No. I don't think it would be done well in the cinema, unless they tie the loose ends.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Jo on 06-12-15

Great Book

Loved this book, the accents were so perfect I could listen to the story without stopping.

Lovely story. I would recommend it to anyone.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By fiona on 07-30-16

step into history

an interesting story that has made me keen to learn about the history of turkey and the involvement in ww2

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