Last Train to Istanbul

This book is about two sisters, Selva, the younger, who went against her family’s wishes and married Rafael, a Jewish man, and escaped to France. Sabiha, the elder, married a Muslim man that her family approved of and worried about her younger sister.

Goodreads, USUK

Honestly, I only got this book because the summary looked interesting and it was on Kindle Unlimited so I didn’t have to pay for it. And then I waited so long to read it that I forgot what it was about.

This book took me a little while to get into and I thought the book was about Sabiha, the elder sister, but it was much more about Selva. Sabiha seems to be depressed through most of the first half of the book and I felt quite sorry for her because everyone seemed really unsympathetic but then it got much better for her because she got a good therapist (I was a little amazed considering it was the 1940s) who managed to unpick why she was so worried about Selva (aside from the obvious) and why she wasn’t treating her daughter very well. Then Sabiha seemed to have a crush on her therapist and I wanted to sigh because why Sabiha, why?

Selva on the other hand, I didn’t quite empathise with her at first and then all of a sudden, I did. Kulin managed to write her in such a way that her faults were obvious and you wanted to shake her sometimes but you still remained rooting for her as a person and as a character.

Actually Kulin does her characters really well. I know nothing about Turkish culture, let alone Turkish culture in WWII, but Kulin managed to develop each character to be completely unique with their own dreams and goals, while showing how their culture affects them, even as they live in another country. There was a lot of POV switching which I found okay, but could have found it irritating if done less well.

It did take me about a third of the book to really get into it and the whole point of the book (the train to Istanbul) only took up the last couple of chapters? I would have liked more about the train earlier on in the book but I suppose the set-up worked. So four stars for this but I would probably only recommend if I knew you already liked these sorts of books.


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