THE PALACE OF TEARS by Alev Lytle Croutier


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This lush first novel by a successful filmmaker, scriptwriter (Tell Me a Riddle), and nonfiction author (Harem: The World Behind the Veil, 1989), based on an often retold Croutier family story, is a tale of romantic obsession set against the background of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1868. The star-crossed lovers (who dream about each other simultaneously, before they’ve met) are “La Poupée” (“The Doll”), a beautiful Turkish woman with one blue eye and one yellow, and (married) French vintner Casimir de Châteauneuf, who falls in love with a portrait of her he happens upon, and travels to Istanbul to free her from the harem where she resides as a wily sultan’s favorite. France’s Empress Eugénie and engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps also figure in the skimpy action, which is rather overshadowed by Croutier’s heady vacillations between genuine lyric grace and portentous sentimentality.

An authentic entertainment, even if we don’t believe a word of it.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-33488-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2000