A girl changes the course of the Ottoman empire in Lukas's middling debut. Eleonora Cohen -- born in 1877 Romania, prophesied to alter history, and gifted with great intelligence -- stows away at age eight to follow her father to Stamboul. Her first weeks there are a whirlwind of beautiful new... read more
Eleonora Cohen was born in difficult circumstances. Her home, Constanta, is being attacked by Russian armies, and without a doctor to attend to her, Eleonora 's mother dies in childbirth. Simultaneously, Eleonora is favored by fate when two midwives are drawn to her house by a flock of... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Eleonora Cohen was born in difficult circumstances. Her home, Constanta, is being attacked by Russian armies, and without a doctor to attend to her, Eleonora 's mother dies in childbirth. Simultaneously, Eleonora is favored by fate when two midwives are drawn to her house by a flock of purple hoopoes. These distinctive birds are a good omen, and they remain so throughout her childhood.
Eleonora 's extraordinary intellect provides the context for her momentus journey from Constanta to Stamboul, a city of culture at the center of the Ottoman Empire. An unorthodox young lady, her journey leads her to the Sultan's Palace at a crucial point in history.
This is a beautifully crafted tale, steady-paced and laced with intrigue. The character of Eleonora is youthful without being sentimental. I loved her tale and would happily read more of this historical world, on the cusp of change. Loved it.
“Meanwhile, in a small gray stone house near the top of East Hill, Leah Cohen was heavy in the throes of labor. The living room smelled of witch hazel, alcohol and sweat. The linen chest was thrown open and a pile of iodine-stained bedsheets lay on the table. Because the town's sole trained physician was otherwise disposed, Leah was attended by a pair of Tartar midwives who lived in a village nearby. Providence had brought them to the Cohens' doorstep at the moment they were needed most. They had read the signs, they said: a sea of horses, a conference of birds, the north star in alignment with the moon. It was a prophecy, they said, that their last king had given on his deathwatch, but there was no time to explain.”
“Among Eleonora's earliest memories were the stories her father told sometimes after dinner. Climbing into his lap, she could feel the scratchy wool of his jacket against her arm. There was the crackle of the fire settling, the warm leather smell of the armchair, and Ruxandra darning in the corner.”
“For the stones in the river of history look different depending on where you stand.”
With every choice, even the choice of inactivity, we must shut the door to a host of alternate futures. Each step we take along the path of fate represents a narrowing of potential, the death of a parallel world.Highlighted by 14 Kindle customers
For the stones in the river of history look different depending on where you stand.Highlighted by 10 Kindle customers
The string of fate pulled him through muck and brambles, hardship, tragedy, and countless sleepless nights. At times it seemed a pointless struggle, but when he arrived finally at the end of the line, then he understood that it was all necessary.Highlighted by 8 Kindle customers
There is no sage wiser than the dictates of your own personal heart. Then she recalled the lines that followed: When you follow the ardent instructions of your heart, when you follow not the easy path nor the selfish path, but the path you knew all along was correct, you can only but do what’s right by the world.Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
look inside one’s own personal heart, determine what was right, and do it without regret.Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
“Luck affects everything. Let your hook always be cast. In the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish.”Highlighted by 5 Kindle customers
There is no sage wiser than the dictates of your own personal heart.Highlighted by 5 Kindle customers
Why should I not decide myself how to feel? They are, after all, my feelings. If I want to cry some other time, I will cry some other time. I do not want to today.Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers
General Krzab’s words to his wife on the nature of truth: A slippery fish, flashing scales in the water and a noble fighter on the line, but dull as lead at the bottom of the boat. It was true. As much as she admired the idea of truth from a distance, its practice left something to be desired.Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers
Plato would seem to think she should. Truth is the beginning of every good to the gods, and of every good to man. Then again, there was Tertullian. Truth engenders hatred of truth. As soon as it appears it is the enemy.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
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