The Dervish

Frances Kazan, Author
Frances Kazan. Opus, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62316-004-3
Reviewed on: 04/08/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
In her second historical novel, Kazan (Halide's Gift) weaves the story of young painter, Mary Di Benedetti, who leaves New York in 1919 to join her sister, Connie, and diplomat brother-in-law, John, in post-WWI Istanbul, hoping to escape the haunting memories of her late husband Burnham. After witnessing the murder of an innocent young Turk by a British lieutenant, Mary is swept up into the Turkish Nationalist cause by her friendship with ardent activist Halide Hanim and an unlikely romance with the murdered boy's father, Mustafa Pasha, all of which reignites her passion for life and painting. Unfortunately, Kazan's flatfooted writing does little to similarly sweep the reader up in the exotic locale and dramatic events. This lack of style, though, does not mean a lack of substance. Kazan explores a culturally rich city in a tumultuous period, and while the large cast of characters feels hastily sketched, and the truncated romantic subplot may not be enough to captivate or satisfy the reader, the constantly shifting political heart of the story might. Kazan's superior knowledge of the subject is on full display, but her storytelling doesn't measure up. (Apr.)
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