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Last Train to Istanbul Audiobook

Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

Born into privilege to one of the last Ottoman pashas, beautiful, spirited Selva is the brightest jewel in her father’s household - until she falls in love with Rafael Alfandari. Though Turkey has long been a safe haven for Jews, marriage between a high-ranking Muslim girl and a Jewish boy is strictly forbidden. Yet young love will not be denied, and Selva and Rafael defy their parents and marry, fleeing to Paris in hopes of a better life - only to find themselves trapped in the path of the invading Nazis.

But in the midst of darkness shines a beacon of hope: A handful of courageous Turkish diplomats, protected only by the tenuous neutrality of their homeland, hatch a daring plot to spirit the exiled lovers and hundreds of innocent Jews to safety. Together, they will traverse a war-torn continent, crossing enemy lines and risking everything in one last, desperate bid for freedom.

©2002 Ayşe Kulin (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Ayşe Kulin is a clever writer. She draws the reader into the story of the life and loves of a Turkish family in wartime, and by the time the reader realizes that she has also cranked up the tension with a rescue plot, it is too late to put the book down unfinished. For aficionados of wartime novels, as well as for anyone glued to his or her seat watching the film Argo, this is a must read." (Helen Bryan, best-selling author of War Brides and The Sisterhood)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (44 )
5 star
 (9)
4 star
 (11)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (2)
Overall
3.7 (40 )
5 star
 (11)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (1)
Story
3.6 (40 )
5 star
 (11)
4 star
 (11)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jo 12/06/2015
    Jo 12/06/2015 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Book"

    Loved this book, the accents were so perfect I could listen to the story without stopping.

    Lovely story. I would recommend it to anyone.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fiona 30/07/2016
    fiona 30/07/2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "step into history"

    an interesting story that has made me keen to learn about the history of turkey and the involvement in ww2

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 14/06/2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "masterpiece"

    a truly moving story of human spirit and hope for the future I was truly moved by this story

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Tucker 13/02/2016
    Nicole Tucker 13/02/2016 Member Since 2015

    A wonderful Wife & Mother, trying to find time for myself. Love to loose myself in the moment, listening to a fantastic audio book.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An enjoyable love story during WWII"

    I enjoyed the storyline & the narrator was excellent. At one point I felt the story was predicable. But OT was still an enjoyable journey with the families from France to Turkey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shorty Sydney, Australia 02/12/2015
    Shorty Sydney, Australia 02/12/2015 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Didn't get interesting until two thirds in"
    Any additional comments?

    It seemed to drag on and was quite boring for most of it. I liked the story though but it seemed Selwa was a bit irritating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alison 09/11/2015
    alison 09/11/2015 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    26
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bit of a plod..."

    It takes a while to get going, and the writing style is a bit choppy in places, but that could be down to translation.
    I never really connected with any of the characters, some because I didn't particularly like them and others because they seemed to be randomly introduced to the story and never developed into anything that was really relevant?
    Certain elements seemed unnecessary - Sabiha, her daughter, and the psychoanalyst - what was the point? The rape on the train, why, the train journey was harrowing enough and the story never followed through on it anyway. I felt the train journey was a very significant part of the story, yet it was crammed in at the end of the book and left a lot of loose ends.
    However, as a historical fiction book it was quite interesting and did give some insight into the plight of the Turkish people during the war.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 29/07/2015 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unsympathetic characters"

    I found myself unable to care what happened to any of these characters. In particular the sisters. One is just outright obnoxious, more interested in pretty much everything other than protecting her son. The other is unable to love her own daughter because when she was growing up her younger sister was slightly taller and therefore her jealousy from childhood has left her emotionally stunted. The narration lacked emotion. The random rape in the train carriage, really, was that necessary???

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Halit Pinar, MD
    2/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Problematic Narration"
    Would you try another book from Ayse Kulin and/or Sanjiv Jhaveri?

    Ayse Kulin is a very talented writer but the narrator, Sanjiv Jhaveri was not the right choice for her book. When he tries to read the conversation with a "Turkish accent" he sounds awful. If the producers listen to a Turkish person reading or speaking English with an accent, they will immediately realize their error. This book really should be redone because the book itself is excellent.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Ayse Kulin? Why or why not?

    Yes. She is a very talented story teller.


    What didn’t you like about Sanjiv Jhaveri’s performance?

    As I discussed previously, he was the wrong choice for a book written by a Turkish author.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Last Train to Istanbul?

    The entire project needs to be redone.


    Any additional comments?

    The producers should do their homework before they undertake a project. The field became very competitive and there are books with incredible narration.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Cathy W
    Tennessee
    17/06/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Need my money back on this one"

    so confusing . so boring. what was the plot??? Please exchange this for another one please

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Anna at a Wondrous Bookshelf
    Las Vegas
    21/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "3-Stars"

    Last Train To Istanbul is a beautiful work of historical fiction about two privileged Muslim Turkish sisters–Selva and Sabiha. Sabiha marries a prominent Turkish diplomat, and Selva falls in love and marries a Turkish Jew–Rafael Alfandari. Selva and Rafael are shunned by her family, and move to Paris shortly before the Nazi German invasion in World War II.

    What I really appreciated about this novel was Ayse Kulin’s extensive research about that period of history, and I loved to learn about WWII from a Turkish perspective. It’s a beautiful story of hope and courage. Many times WWII books are difficult to read due to the horrible accounts of the Holocaust, but this book kept me very interested and the narration by Sanjiv Jhaveri was just perfect. His accent and all the accents portrayed were essential to the atmosphere of this book.

    I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction and WWII novels.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Marion Marshall
    28/07/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great narrator...good story"
    What made the experience of listening to Last Train to Istanbul the most enjoyable?

    The narrator's voice really transported you to a different place


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Last Train to Istanbul?

    Several moments on the train had me holding my breath.


    What about Sanjiv Jhaveri’s performance did you like?

    Consistent. The story is told from various points of view but without using silly voices the narrator conveys each story in a respectful and wonderful way.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • ASL4U
    Rochester NY
    27/06/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Different perspective - good story!"

    I enjoyed this book way more than i expected to. It took a couple tries to get into it - because i have no context for Turkey and their place in the war.. But i'm really glad i stuck with it. New context - and people that i'm sure will come back to me later. I also have unanswered questions - like was that the right man Marcel tripped? And did Constance recover? - over all a really good read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    21/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A disorganized mess."

    2 1/2 stars. This book sounded so good. Unfortunately the result is an uncohesive compilation of POVs of more than 14 characters. Many of the vignettes are barely related to the storyline. Most of the characters aren't even likeable. I listened to this book on audiobook and most of the voices are annoying as well. The husbands are all verbally abusive to their wives. One man even rapes his wife. The psyciatrist is especially loathesome. He seduces his patient while psychoanalyzing her. Let me undress you as you tell me about your relationship with your 8 year old daughter. Creepy! Near the end there was suddenly an erotic semi-public scene between two random characters. It was unexpected and made me uncomfortable. I didn't even know these characters so I skipped ahead. Then I discovered it was actually a rape by a random german soldier. Next we had a minor character die in his sleep. Neither of these scenes or characters were really plot pertinate. Finally we come to the finale we have all beeen waiting for. The relief of safety and the long awaited reuniting of estranged families. Except it cuts off before you get reuniting of estranged families. Except it cuts off before you get closure. A book full of background details of minor characters fails to provide details of the resolution of the main plot and characters. It was unsatisfying.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lana Lee Plum
    PORTLAND, OR, US
    13/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Train ride to life."

    Loved this book it is a demonstration of how prejudice of any kind can reek destruction in lives of innocence people. Even modern societies can become inhuman when guided by prejudice ideas. Look at Nazi Germany. This is the story of Turkish citizens fleeing France in 1941. They saved themselves and some Jewish refugees by sending train car to take them to Turkey. Excellent narration and well written story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Regina
    Sausalito
    31/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unknown history comes alive!"

    Once again fascinating Turks play a role that is both heroic and clever. Ayes Kulin captures, in a fast moving and insightful story, a "Schindler's List" fiction that motivated me to put down the book and study the history. Indeed, although historical fiction, absolute real events are told through Last Train to Istanbul as a character driven reflection of strong family values, humanity, and the strength of a secular country. True incidents of Necdet Kent and other members of the Turkish Diplomatic Corps are depicted in the novel, accurately detailed, according to several scholarly works I have reviewed since finishing the book. Fast read,
    Bravo

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Penny
    New York, New York
    11/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fabulous"

    A wonderful performance of a moving story. Thr narrator was masterful with the different characters. The author wrote a moving story with well developed characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dragon&Fox
    near NYC
    24/07/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I want my $1 back!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A narrator who did not read the story as if it were being read to a 2 year old.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Sanjiv Jhaveri?

    I love Gwendoline Christie for everything!


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    not that I could fine. I could not by any means read to through the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Suzy
    5/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing and confusing"
    What would have made Last Train to Istanbul better?

    It was difficult to distinguish between the characters and the story introduced characters part way through which added to the confusion.


    What will your next listen be?

    Not sure yet - something easy listening


    What aspect of Sanjiv Jhaveri’s performance might you have changed?

    They did too many accents and the Turkish ones were difficult to understand and the French characters all sounded the same which meant it was hard to follow. Less accents would have helped


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Well I haven't managed to finish it, but I would say it highlighted a hidden part of world war 2 in that I hadn't previously thought about the Turkish side of things.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish this had been better as the idea of an interweaving family story in World War Two from a Turkish perspective is fascinating. However it's difficult to keep track of characters and the story's pace is very slow. The many and varying accents don't help. I can't help but feel I would have enjoyed this better if it had more neutral narration. I have the kindle book so maybe I will finish this myself. I can't recommend the audio version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • YogaGirl
    14/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book with gripping plot"

    I enjoyed this book more then I expected to! Hard to put down, real pleasure to listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    11/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "just couldn't get into it sorry"

    just couldn't do it and it's the first time I've left a book without finishing it..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Melanie
    15/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "WWII from a different perspective."

    A story following the turbulent times of a group of mainly Turkish Jews, as they try to flee to the safety of Istanbul from Paris during WWII. It is a tale from a different perspective from the norm, which I found gave this story a unique quality.

    Although I found this book quite hard to get into at first, I persevered and it was definitely well worth it. After getting to know the characters, the story was full of suspense and I was wiling them all to survive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pen
    Yorkshire, UK
    19/06/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing, for me - it could have been so much better"
    What disappointed you about Last Train to Istanbul?

    A slightly biased and perhaps idealised view of Turkey and life there, much as I love the country, the people and the food. The basis of the story was good, interesting (indeed, deeply fascinating in places), well researched, and it seemed well written, as far as one can tell from the American translation. However, it could have been so much stronger, and provided greater depth. I was interested because part of my family were/are from Turkey, with links also to France and Marseilles. The children were astonishingly well behaved, so little trouble to their parents - not requiring the usual amount of attention and care, even in illness!


    Would you ever listen to anything by Ayse Kulin again?

    No


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes


    What character would you cut from Last Train to Istanbul?

    There is no need for that; all characters were a necessary part of the story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jeanne
    18/06/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting story"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes. Story is quite captivating and intriguing. Although some characters did not really have development, e.g. Sabiha. It feels like it was cut short.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Ayse Kulin? Why or why not?

    Yes. I already have another book from her, so will be reading/listening to that next.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Sometimes the reading was a bit fast, and at the beginning it was a bit monotonous, but the pace and the style changed at the end.


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    No. I don't think it would be done well in the cinema, unless they tie the loose ends.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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