Mar 14, 2010

9) Halide's Gift

Original Title: Halide's Gift
Turkish Title: Halide
English Title: Halide's Gift
Author: Frances Kazan
Pages: 471
Rating: 2/5
I think it is more about why I bought this book rather than why I read this book. This year in January I had read a fabulous book (Şu Çılgın Türkler) about the Turkish War of Independence. One of the main characters of that book was Halide Edip Adivar, who served as a soldier in the Turkish military during the Turkish War of Independence. She was a Turkish novelist and feminist political leader. She was best known for her novels criticizing the low social status of Turkish women and what she saw as the disinterest of most women in changing their situation. I read some of her novels during my high school and university years and really liked them. When I saw a book about Halide written by a foreign author about the early years of her life, I didn't think much and decided to buy the book and read it immediately.
The story takes place in the last decade of the 19th century. It is about the last and hard years of the remains of the Ottoman Empire, the nationalistic movements going on in the Balkans, the poverty of the public, the enlargening gap between the rich and the poor, the way the last few Ottoman Sultans ruled the remains of the Empire and how Halide manages to come out as an educated woman: A woman who questions everything and who is brave enough to write about it.
This book was a total disappointment for me. I gave the book 2 stars because I managed to read it off rather quickly. Otherwise, I'd have given 1 star for sure. As I read quite a lot about the Ottoman history, I can easily say that the way the historical background of the last decades of the Ottomans was described in this book was rather poor and shallow. For people who do not know much about the Ottoman history, it may even be quite confusing.
About the story of Halide, the author herself said that she only knew the basics of Halide's life and she just imagined her childhood. I found her imagination lacking creativity when it comes to telling the story about how Halide had become a feminist political leader and a soldier. The Islamic values in her life was overstressed in the book. I think the author did it to show the reader how sharp Halide's transition was but I didn't find it interesting at all.

1 comment :

  1. This is so far away from the type of book I would read ... but I admire you for reading it (even though it was disappointing) and for having such a specific focus and interest.