Love in Exile by Ayse Kulin, translated by Kenneth Dakan. It is a family saga told between 1903 and 1941 during turbulent times in Turkey. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Balkan Wars and World War I, families were torn apart by politics and war. It is also a love story of two people who must find a way to be together despite their families’ differences and objections. Sabahat Yedic is a beautiful and intelligent woman who wants to peruse her education despite the cultural expectations that she finish. She has the drive and stubbornness to stand up against cultural expectations to follow her dreams. Raised in a Muslim family, she believes her life is meant to be more than just a good marriage and children. She convinces her family to let her continue her education. She meets the handsome Aram, a young Armenian Christian man who matches her desire for knowledge. They soon fall in love and despite their families’ objections, they defy traditions and risk everything to be together. Will Sabahat and Aram finally have the life they dream of? Or with culture, politics and war keep them apart?
Based on the author’s own family history, it is a beautiful of star-crossed lovers. The descriptions of the time and of the city of Istanbul helped bring the story alive and the story felt real. I felt as if I was there. However, there were many minor characters with no real sense of who was who and how they fit in the story. My advice is to read slowly, soak up the families, the cultures, the place and the upheaval of the time. I recommend Love in Exile for those who enjoy stories with twists and turns of historical times and a story of love conquering all.
Love in Exile
Is available at all major booksellers