The story of a Turkish village from before the first world war to the Greek-Turkish conflict of the 1920's and beyond. Full of idiosyncratic characters and human insight.
I’m not really sure where to start with this review, because this book covers so much. It is set in a small village in Anatolia, in the finaly few years of the Ottoman Empire, just before the forced seperation of Turks from Greeks, and Muslims from Christian. There are a multitude of characters, sometimes they tell their own stories in first person narration, other times a third person narrator details their lives as they intertwine and grow apart.
The style of writing is very, very readable. But it isn’t gripping. Insted it is a story that you can read and become engrossed in, but never have the sense that it is a page-turner. You are never racing to find out what happens next. Which is a good thing, as it allows you the chance to pay attention to the beautiful language and descriptions on the page.
De Bernières is probably most famous for his Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and this books deals with the same general part of the world, although it is set slightly before that novel. It also has a shared character, which I didn’t realise until about half way through, other probably figured it out much earlier.
The book is big. An epic, sprawling all over the history of Turkey, and with plenty to saw about people, nationalism and politics, and all the horrors that they can bring. And there is so much in it that I was unfamilar with I almost felt as though I should take out a history book and read that at the same time. But I didn’t, de Bernières makes everything understandable. Well, for a certain value of understandable I suppose, and while you do have to pay attention it is so well written that it isn’t a slog to get through....Continua