In Allied occupied Constantinople, in the 1920s, a house is transformed into a hospital. A young boy learns English, the language of the hated soldiers, yet one that opens up many opportunities. He has a talent for cooking – a language in itself. His mother, bereft at the loss of her brother to war, finds herself challenged and changing, like the city she lives in. Relationships shifts, lines are drawn, and then they are crossed.
Lucy Foley’s Last Letter From Istanbul is a fascinating and engaging read. Told in chapters from the perspectives of each character, she builds up the story like a rich tapestry, each individual adding depth and detail to the novel.
This is a story about people, but also about place. Foley’s description of the city (Istanbul can be traced to mean ‘the city’) is sumptuous and sensual, with the sights, sounds and smells richly described. Myth, secrets and history all combine in this sweeping novel of a fascinating time.