Throughout this book I could not get away from the feeling that the author's sole objective was to write about the history of the Armenian genocide in Turkey. The story was a vehicle for her history lesson and she manipulated it to enable the characters to give political speeches. The narrative stops dead with each one of these. She deals well, however, with the longing and search for identity of people from mixed cultures and the suffocating intimacy of these Middle Eastern families. The most interesting part for me was the depiction of how family experiences and retold history can shape younger generations' attitudes and beliefs in the same way that nations can manipulate access to information to do the same thing. The attachment to victimhood as part of a national, cultural identity, even when no longer justified, was an interesting aspect. I found many of the characters implausable, unappealing, and/or irritating. The second half of the book was far more engaging than the beginning as she got more focused on the narrative.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was not as packed with great stories and insider insights as his previous books. The beginning was slow but things picked up as it went along. He may be running out of juicy material and is therefore stretching what he's got to fill more space. It's worth getting the book, however, for his description of the world of St. Barts alone. Hilarious and spot on. It's especially worth reading for anyone considering becoming a chef.
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