There are many books set during the World War II period. The war had affected many countries. This book has been on my TBR shelf for some time now so I am glad that I could finally get to reading it.
While the highlight of the book is a daring journey from Paris to Istanbul in dangerous times, the novel Last Train to Istanbul is about many things. It is about love, defiant in the face of orthodox beliefs; about family both by blood and by mutual trust and respect, as well as those forged by friendship and circumstance. It is about politics, the decisions taken and the aftermath of the decisions (though not as detailed). And of course, it also shares something on the atrocities committed in concentration camps.
I liked two things about the novel. The first was how both fear and sadness were palpable. I think these two emotions would have been prominent in the period the novel is set in, and the author is successful in bringing it across. There’s hope too, a reasonable amount of it. The second was how the author has dealt with character sketches. Be it Selva, Sabiha, Rafo or the Pasa, characters shine here and that’s wonderful to see. My favourite character was Tarik.
I felt the novel could have been shortened. While Sabiha’s depression is important to the story, a chapter with her psychologist didn’t really add value to it. It helped her understand something she already knew, and this could have been done some other way perhaps. I liked the politics involved, because it made Macit’s character more relevant but these chapters too could have been shorter.
I started reading with some expectations, so I thought it fell a bit short of the mark. But I would still say it was worth reading it.
Title: Last Train to Istanbul
Author: Ayşe Kulin
Genre: Historical Fiction
No. of Pages: 376
Rating: 7 out of 10