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Shrouded in mystery (1)

My Blue Peninsula
by Maureen Freely
Linen Press

My Blue Peninsulam
Maureen Freely
Linen Press, £13.99

This is the fourth of Maureen Freely’s novels set in Turkey, and if there is a common theme it is of a young woman, an outsider who, when confronted by the shrouded histories of the society around her, is forced to face the mysteries of her own life.

We have had a glimpse of Dora Giraud before – in Freely’s Sailing Through Byzantium. Here we step back to 1961, and she is accompanying her mother back from America to Istanbul, to a confusing reception by the sprawling post-Ottoman family they had left behind.
Dora is befriended by her Bohemian great-aunt, Hümeyra, a gorgeously eccentric artist, whose very presence seems to upset the rest of her relations, who deny their own roots to fit into respectable Republican society. What is it, Dora wonders, that keeps her mother out late every night? Who really is her father?

And why do so many of the friends she brings home seem to be spies? More to the point, will the answers to these questions ever bring her peace? A clue is the book’s title, a line from the Emily Dickinson poem It might be lonelier, an aching declaration of coming to terms with disappointment:

It might be easier
To fail – with Land in Sight –
Than gain my Blue Peninsula–
To perish – of Delight

Freely is both a shrewd and a subtle observer of character and of the way that events, even those in the past, unseen, impinge upon the present. That this is the final volume of an Istanbul Tetralogy seems unlikely. Happily, there are hints of more work to come.

Other Highlights from Cornucopia 66
  • Don McCullin’s Wars and Peace

    The great photojournalist Don McCullin talks to Maureen Freely of the darkness and light that have marked his life and his searingly truthful work

  • The Treasured Shell

    Since the 1940s time has stood still under the pines and palms of this modest Art Deco villa on Istanbul’s Marmara shore. Berrin Torolsan meets Suna Erbil Demirağ, who has fiercely protected it as a tribute to her pioneering father, who carved out a thousand kilometres of Turkey’s railways before building this much-loved haven. Photographs by Monica Fritz

  • The Season Ticket

    In the dead of winter, the photographer and filmmaker Annette Louise Solakoğlu takes the long, slow train journey east from Ankara to the borderland where Turkey meets Armenia and Georgia, scanning the frozen vastness of the north Anatolian landscape

Buy the Book
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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
£15.00 / $19.05 / 630.39 TL
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