Now that I’ve finished Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red I’d like to share my impressions of the story and the writing. As I mentioned last week in My Initial Thoughts the format of the story is unique. For a murder mystery, having multiple points of view, all written in first person, opens up some interesting and humorous options. Some of those characters included pictures of things rather than living, breathing people characters.
It took me 11 days to read the book, with breaks here and there to do some other things like write my own book and drive to Virginia for vacation. I can’t say I enjoyed this story as much as some others. Part of that is some of the content was rather offensive to my taste. I don’t consider myself a prude, mind, but there seemed to me more than necessary mentions of the male member and various uses for it by the owner and by others, some willing, some not.
I feel like I learned more about the mindset, or expectations, of the Turkish people in the story. How much did the representation in the story reflect the reality of those times? I don’t know. Some of those sensibilities worried me, made me wonder if that was really how men in those times viewed the world around them. The people around them. Or perhaps the author views others in this way? I don’t know that either…
I also didn’t get a real sense of life in the 16th century. Most of the descriptions of place and character seemed universal instead of specific. Instead of describing what houses looked like in that time, it’s only mentioned whether they were large, or neat/messy, etc. For me, the closest to anchoring the story in the past came from the frequent mention of a dagger, of walking or riding a horse, some of the foods mentioned. Still, the overall sense I gleaned from the narrative left the setting rather vague instead of incorporating it into the story.
I applaud Mr. Pamuk on his creativity and willingness to delve deeply into the world of art, illustration, and illuminations. The latter is what intrigued me most about the story. I think the people, men actually, who did the illuminated texts were some fine artists! I’ve been lucky enough to see several tomes while in Dublin years ago.
So overall, the story was well written and creative, funny and insightful. I have a few reservations about some of the content and world view expressed within its pages, but perhaps that’s my own foible and not something others would even notice.
For my next selection, I’ll read Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I hope you’ll read along. Happy reading!
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Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.
Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.
But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband… no matter what the dangerous future may hold.