Seven Houses: A Novel

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9780743444132: Seven Houses: A Novel

From a grand villa in Smyrna to a silk plantation near Mount Olympus, from a little cottage in a dusty town to the indifferent apartments of a modern day high rise, SEVEN HOUSES charts the rocky, uncertain course of one family's ever-shifting fortunes across the twentieth century. As her characters' communal baths and odalisques give way to laptops and cell phones, Alev Lytle Croutier renders a world that is rich with the portents of history and the magic of true faith. In the shdow of World War I, the young widow Esma falls helplessly in love with the man who tutors her sons. Their union results in the birth of Aida, whose magical beauty brings pleasure and pain in equal measure. Esma's granddaughter, Amber, whose sheltered childhood on her uncle's plantation ends with frightening abruptness, finds solace in the American music on her transistor radio. The passions and secrets of the women of SEVEN HOUSES reach a stunning culmination when Amber returns to Smyrna with Nellie, her American-born daughter. In this emotional pilgrimage to the land of Nellie's ancestors, Croutier's enchanting, utterly captivating novel comes full circle.

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About the Author:

Alev Lytle Croutier wrote and directed the film adaptation of Tillie Olsen's TELL ME A RIDDLE. She is the author of the novella THE PALACE OF TEARS and two non-fiction works, HAREM: THE WORLD BEHIND THE VEIL and TAKING THE WATERS. Born and raised in Turkey, Croutier divides her time between San Francisco and Paris.

From Publishers Weekly:

The various residences of the Ipekci family serve as the narrative framework for this ambitious second novel by Croutier, a multigenerational saga tracing a Turkish family's turbulent journey through the 20th century. In the storied Aegean city of Smyrna, young, widowed family matriarch Esma is courted by her children's tutor, Soleyman, until her older brother, Iskender Bey, forces Soleyman to flee. Grief stricken, Esma devotes herself to her sons, and particularly Cadri, who brings his willful bride, Camilla, to live at the family villa. Some years after Esma's death, Cadri and Camilla move to Iskender Bey's silk plantation with their daughter, Amber, who narrates much of the family history in a scattershot series of well-crafted, emotionally resonant scenes. The story of her own uneven upbringing-in Smyrna; on the plantation; in Ankara; in 1950s Istanbul, where her parents finally settle-alternates with the stories of beautiful Aida, Amber's aunt, who is crowned Miss Turkey by Ataterk; slick con man Rodrigo Cavallero, who dupes the Ipekcis with a scheme to grow decaffeinated coffee beans; and Hamid Bey, Camilla's one-armed soldier father. Amber emigrates to the U.S. as an adult, but the novel comes full circle when she returns to Turkey with her daughter and visits all the places she once knew. Croutier's shimmering prose integrates a heady potpourri of poetic imagery, elements of magical realism and finely honed characterizations. The overabundance of subplots and the absence of well-developed male characters hurts the narrative balance, but this represents a solid success on the heels of Croutier's more traditional debut, The Palace of Tears.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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