Friday, January 28, 2011

THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL by Michael David Lukas

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I am a sucker for book that include magical realism and whimsy and this book has a touch of both.  Eleonora Cohen is born in Constanta in 1877 during the decline of the Ottoman Empire.  Her birth is accompanied by the arrival of a group of purple and white birds called hoopoes. These birds never leave Eleonora's side.  The birds aren't the only unusual thing about this young girl.  As she gets older, her father Yakob discovers that she has an enormous capacity for learning. When Yakob leaves for Stamboul on a business trip,. Eleonora sneaks onto the boat with him.  In the house of her father's business partner, Moncef Bey, Eleonora finds a whole new world where her intelligence if valued and cultivated.  Even the sultan takes an interest in what she has to say. When tragedy strikes, however, Eleonora's world is turned upside down and she must decide where her destiny will lead her.

I know this is a very short summary but I don't want to give anything away.  This is a really charming and sweet book that asks whether we can ever escape our destinies. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book as I knew little about the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire during this time period.  And Eleonora is such an intriguing character. I only wish there had been more!!!  I mentioned to my co-worker that this book reminded me of OF BEES AND MIST by Erick Setiawan not so much in content but in style.

BOTTOM LINE: HIGHLY recommended.  A sweet story set in an exotic and fascinating moment in time.  The book demonstrates how one person can have a profound effect on the world.

1 comment:

Babysmartees said...

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Happy weekend, Paula