Eighteenth century Turkey is wonderfully recreated in this engaging novel of sultans and harems as seen through the eyes of Aimée du Buc, a thirteen year old girl who is kidnapped by pirates as she travels from her school in France to her home in Martinique. Renamed Nakshidil (“embroidered on the heart”), she becomes part of the sultan’s seraglio in Topkapi Palace, where she learns new sets of rules for etiquette, for survival and for happiness.
It is the first novel for Janet Wallach, who has earlier written a number of biographies. A very enjoyable and fast read, I finished it in one day. Read it if you like history, the mysteriousness and politicking inside harems and most especially romance.