Saturday, June 28, 2014

IN BRIEF--THE BAKLAVA CLUB





                                                      A MULTI-LAYERED DELIGHT


Jason Goodwin's THE BAKLAVA CLUB meets all the requirements of an excellent  novel--great setting,  great plot, a rock solid historical foundation, memorable characters, clear, luminous writing, romance that never lapses into the ordinary rock. All this rests on historical foundation only an erudite writer can build. Goodwin's fans know that he only gets better. Even so, they will be surprised at how deftly he handles the the evolution of characters such as that of  the eunuch for whom the series is named. Up to now, self-contained, self-controlled, self-effacing, clad in drab brown,  Yashim has led a quiet life punctuated by visits to the Ottoman valide and dinners with the scholarly Polish ambassador Palewsky. Only crime solving disrupts his routine. That is, until a group of Italian revolutionaries, a Finnish beauty, and Natasha, the daughter of an exiled Decembrist, cross his path.
What brings  people of such different backgrounds to Yashim's Ottoman Istanbul? Global politics,  of course.  The Italians want to kill a Polish prince and thus cause a shift in global power. The valide wants to make a tiny mark in Russian  history.  Palewsky wants Poland to be Poland once again. Yashim wants to make a difference, to right wrongs and he wants to come to terms with the damage done to him.
Are  all these different  wishes granted? You have to read the book to find out.  I promise that in the process you will be amused, you will learn fascinating historical facts, you will share delightful feasts and you will grow fonder of Yashim and friends.

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