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Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel | [Ayse Kulin]

Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel

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.
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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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (70 )
5 star
 (15)
4 star
 (30)
3 star
 (16)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
3.9 (58 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
 (21)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (2)
Story
3.5 (59 )
5 star
 (18)
4 star
 (14)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-02-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Problematic Narration"
    Would you try another book from Ayse Kulin and/or Sanjiv Jhaveri?

    Ayse Kulin is a very talented writer but the narrator, Sanjiv Jhaveri was not the right choice for her book. When he tries to read the conversation with a "Turkish accent" he sounds awful. If the producers listen to a Turkish person reading or speaking English with an accent, they will immediately realize their error. This book really should be redone because the book itself is excellent.


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

    Yes. She is a very talented story teller.


    What didn’t you like about Sanjiv Jhaveri’s performance?

    As I discussed previously, he was the wrong choice for a book written by a Turkish author.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Last Train to Istanbul?

    The entire project needs to be redone.


    Any additional comments?

    The producers should do their homework before they undertake a project. The field became very competitive and there are books with incredible narration.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marion Marshall 07-28-14

    I love reading. For a long time, I snubbed audio books like so many others. How wrong and misguided I was.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    7
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great narrator...good story"
    What made the experience of listening to Last Train to Istanbul the most enjoyable?

    The narrator's voice really transported you to a different place


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Last Train to Istanbul?

    Several moments on the train had me holding my breath.


    What about Sanjiv Jhaveri’s performance did you like?

    Consistent. The story is told from various points of view but without using silly voices the narrator conveys each story in a respectful and wonderful way.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna at a Wondrous Bookshelf Las Vegas 05-21-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Berry Ohio 04-21-15
    D. Berry Ohio 04-21-15 Member Since 2014

    Mrs B

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story"

    I loved the story, although the performance was a bit stiff. I enjoyed learning about a facet of WW2 I hadn't known before.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Pennsylvania 08-19-14
    Rachel Pennsylvania 08-19-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I didn't care for the narration"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I couldn't enjoy the story. The narrator had a terrible accent, bad timing and the wrong intonation.It got in the way of my enjoyment of the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Suzy
    10/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing and confusing"
    What would have made Last Train to Istanbul better?

    It was difficult to distinguish between the characters and the story introduced characters part way through which added to the confusion.


    What will your next listen be?

    Not sure yet - something easy listening


    What aspect of Sanjiv Jhaveri’s performance might you have changed?

    They did too many accents and the Turkish ones were difficult to understand and the French characters all sounded the same which meant it was hard to follow. Less accents would have helped


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Well I haven't managed to finish it, but I would say it highlighted a hidden part of world war 2 in that I hadn't previously thought about the Turkish side of things.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish this had been better as the idea of an interweaving family story in World War Two from a Turkish perspective is fascinating. However it's difficult to keep track of characters and the story's pace is very slow. The many and varying accents don't help. I can't help but feel I would have enjoyed this better if it had more neutral narration. I have the kindle book so maybe I will finish this myself. I can't recommend the audio version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Pen
    Yorkshire, UK
    6/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jeanne
    6/18/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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