• Friday, February 25th, 2022

Ayse Kulin was born in Istanbul in 1942. Her Bosnian father, Muhittin Kulin, was a civil engineer who helped found and build the State Hydraulic Works in Istanbul and became the first director of that organisation. Her Circassian mother, Sitare Hanim, was the descendant of the first Ottoman Minister of Economic affairs.

Ayse Kulin grew up in Ankara and spent her summer holidays in Istanbul with her mother’s conservative family, who were still attached to traditional Ottoman ethics. All these circumstances inspired her for the stories in her novel.

Kulin studied literature and graduated from the American College For Girls in Arnavutköy in Istanbul. In 1980 she worked as an editor and reporter for various Turkish newspapers and magazines, also as a screenwriter, cinematographer and producer for television series, cinema and commercials. Kulin has won several prizes and awards for her works which have been translated into several languages. Love In Exile was published in 2016. Kulin has been married, twice divorced and has four sons. She presently lives in Istanbul.

The story of Love In Exile takes place in Turkey at the dusk of the Ottoman empire and the political and social turmoil in preparation for the new Turkish republic. The novel begins in nineteen twenty-eight and ends with the second world war and the author’s birth in nineteen forty-one. The author uses her family background as the subject of her novel. It is the story of the Behice family and the Kulin family, and she even uses their real names.

Sabahat, the youngest of the three sisters among the several characters portrayed in the novel, is a beautiful, free-spirited and ambitious girl. Her father admires her for her intellect, will and persistence to continue her studies instead of the established rule at the time of getting married and having a traditional family like her two elder sisters, Leman and Suat. Unbeknown to Sabahat, she will fall madly in love with the handsome Armenian student, Aram, and will want to marry him during her scholastic years.

It was unthinkable for a Turkish, Muslim, bourgeois girl from a conservative family to marry a humble Christian Armenian student in the nineteen twenties. Consequently, both families opposed the wedlock, but Sabahat and Aram, who passionately love each other and have the same determination, principles and beliefs, decide to brave their families’ old-fashioned, well-established practices and promise one another to persevere against all odds and wait for the right time to unite as husband and wife.

Love In Exile is a compelling family saga. The story mixes facts, fiction and biography. It gives a good insight into Turkish traditions and culture as well as providing details of culinary dishes and the lifestyle in Turkey during the problematic transitional years of the early twentieth century among various communities, Muslims, Bosnians and Armenians.

The story follows the development of the country and the life of its citizens throughout the years. It also focuses on the problem of mixed marriages between different religions and ethnicities, which persist in some societies today. However, having so many characters, two family trees and peripheral characters, makes it confusing for the reader to follow the story.

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Category: Book Reviews
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