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Synopsis: In 1839, after decades of conflict, the Russian army and the Muslims of Chechnya are on the verge of a truce. To prove his commitment to peace, warrior chief Imam Shamil offers a hostage: his son Jamal Eddin. But once the truce is signed, the Russians spirit Jamal Eddin back to Russia, where Czar Nicholas “adopts” the boy. Immersed in imperial court life, Jamal Eddin matures into the consummate courtier. Still he maintains his Muslim faith ― until he falls in love with a beautiful Russian aristocrat. To marry her Jamal Eddin must convert to Christianity, a sacrifice he is prepared to make. But his devotion to his bride will be pitted against his duty to his homeland when Jamal Eddin is called to take his rightful place leading the Muslims. Based on a true story, this sweeping historical novel chronicles the coming-of-age of a young man torn by impossible choices wrought by love and conflicting loyalties.
Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Alexandra Lapierre
Question: What inspired you to write this story?
Alexandra Lapierre: I have always been interested in people who have done incredible things and yet been completely forgotten by history.
In the case of Between Love and Honor, I found a true story that is not only an extraordinary adventure, but a moving human drama of a young man caught between two cultures, Muslim and Christian, striving—mightily--to live with integrity and be part of both. Interestingly, Jamal Eddin’s struggle and his story illuminate much of what is still going on in a part of the world that is, for the most part, poorly understood. On top of all this, Jamal Eddin fell madly in love with a remarkable young woman, and their tragic tale of star-crossed love was also an inspiration.
Q: In the course of your research, what was the most surprising thing you learned?
AL: The biggest shock came when I finally got hold of Lisa’s diary.
I had heard that Jamal Eddin had been in love with a Russian aristocrat, but I simply did not believe it. I thought this detail was too good to be true. It was impossible that a young woman from an aristocratic family should have been given permission to wed the son of a rebel, a man who was Russia’s sworn enemy. And yet when I finally got Lisa’s diary, a document I chased for months more out of sense of due diligence and professional conscience than anything else, I was stunned. Though she was writing as an old woman, one who had since been twice married and had children, it opened with her recollections of Jamal Eddin! On the eve of the Russian revolution, it was this chapter of her life that she wanted to share with her grandchildren.
Q: As a biographer and writer of historical fiction, what qualities do you look for in prospective subject? What kinds of personalities do you most like to write about?
AL: I am obsessed by people who truly dared to live, men and women who took their destinies in their own hands. For example, Fanny Stevenson, the woman who would become the wife of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, moved with her three children to Paris in order to become a painter. For a single mother in the 19th century, possessed of neither fortune nor connections, this was unthinkable. When she fell in love with Stevenson, she was eleven years his senior and he was no famous writer, just a kid dying of consumption. But she loved him, and against all odds married him, and was not only his muse but his partner. Another of these daring souls is Artemisia Gentileschi, the 17th century Italian painter. She lived at a time when there was simply no possibility that she could have a career; legally, women belonged to men, therefore she could not buy her paints, sign a contract, or travel. But thanks to her genius and determination to become the best painter of her day (not the best female painter, mind you, but the best painter. Period.) she broke all the rules, and her work is still admired today.
Q: You've won many awards for your writing--which honor is most meaningful to you and why?
AL: This is difficult to say, but being elected Woman of Culture by the City of Rome was very moving. I have always dreamed of being a cultural go-between; it is no accident that I am so drawn to Jamal Eddin, who is a true bridge between worlds. To be chosen by a country not my own was a particular honor. The same was true when, in the United States, I was made a member of the Association of American University Women. I like to believe that we need not be circumscribed by our own nationalities and countries of birth, that it is possible to be a citizen of the world... This is also why I am so determined to learn languages: you cannot understand a culture without understanding its language.
Title: Between Love and Honor
Publication Date: 2012
Book Condition: New
Book Description Brilliance Audio Lib Edn, 2012. CMD. Book Condition: Brand New. mp3 una edition. 7.50x5.25x0.50 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk146920018X