In this literary love story set in California and Turkey, a determined, independent Turkish woman turns her trials and tribulations into a life of fulfillment.
Young, single Yasmin holds a doctorate in psychology, and she just started her teaching position at a top Istanbul university. After running into an old friend at her local tennis club in the late 1970s, she’s immediately overtaken by a powerful bond to her friend’s husband, Renan; she can tell he feels the same attraction. Yasmin and Renan act honorably, with respect to his marriage and young son, as they endure being close friends without ever crossing a moral line. When Renan and his family move to Australia and the political situation in Turkey becomes unstable, Yasmin packs up her things and starts over in California. She maintains her intense passion for Renan but nonetheless creates a fulfilling professional and personal life for herself in her new city, eventually marrying an esteemed academic, although she never allows her love for Renan to fade. With support from her strong yet gentle mother, she even adopts a child. Talay-Ongan cleverly balances the deep fervor of Yasmin’s feelings for Renan with the reality of setting up a professional center and managing day-to-day life. While the narrative hints at political issues impacting both Yasmin and Renan, the focus of the story doesn’t deviate from their overpowering emotional affair. The pacing is slow and at times filled with overwrought emotion, but the characters are strong and intelligently written. Yasmin, the compelling protagonist, serves as a wise narrator—a resilient, self-aware woman who overcomes obstacles to achieve the goals she sets for herself. Her relationship with her family is complex and touching, although her connection with Renan borders on adolescent obsession. Their interactions are written with an ornate, lyrical quality that would seem more appropriate for a book of love poetry.
An elegant, intelligent romance that’s engaging but at times overdone.