- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Picador USA (2 March 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312429355
- ISBN-13: 978-0312429355
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 295 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
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The Bellini Card Paperback – 2 Mar 2010
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"When you read a historical mystery by Jason Goodwin, you take a magic carpet ride to the most exotic place on earth." --Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Escapist fiction at its most seductive." --Heather O'Donoghue, The Times Literary Supplement
"Goodwin's previous books took us into the alleys and byways of nineteenth-century Istanbul. This is an equally vivid and well-informed account of Venice in 1840 . . . The plot is lively and interesting; but the real delight in this book is the atmospheric portrait of a fascinating place." --Literary Review
"Wonderfully entertaining . . . [Goodwin] uses short, punchy chapters and vibrant, atmospheric prose to bring the glory days of the Ottoman capital to life." --Adam Woog, The Seattle Times on The Snake Stone
"Everything you could want from a novel--beautifully written, a cracking story, and, in the figure of Yashim the eunuch, a wonderfully seductive and original detective." --Kate Mose, author of Labyrinth on The Janissary Tree
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It is strange that, despite being a eunuch, Yashim seemed to have had intimate close encounters with ravishing foreign females in every story. It just goes to show that sex is more than just intercourse. As there was no danger of conception, in the harem parlance, it’s “vegetarian diet”.
The author must really love cooking and dedicated many pages describing Turkish recipes and cooking instructions in every one of his books. It seems that every dish involved dicing onions and mincing garlic, then you add lemon juice. In French cooking, there is a saying, “When in doubt, add more wine.” In Mediterranean cooking, the saying is. “When in doubt, add more garlic.” With garlic and lemon, of course everything tastes good.
I was disappointed that the famous eight-pointed stars that made the endless knots and links, popular in Islamic decorations and the main pattern symbol of the story, was not on the cover. Instead, the cover showed a design of repeating squares and triangles making isolated pyramids, not links nor knots, which has nothing to do with Islam.
There is a minor confusion here – In his prior book “The Evil Eye” which took place about 1839, the bridge linking Istanbul and Pera was completed and an opening celebration was held. But, in this book which took place around 1840, they were just beginning to build the bridge. Did the bridge of 1839 collapse?
Count Palewiski was a minor character in the previous 2 books, but here has a more prominent role. I thought he rose to the occasion. He's not as talented as his friend Yashim is, but that makes him more relatable to me. I was touched by the fact that, after so many years in Istanbul, it took a stay in Venice to make him realize his true home is no longer Poland.
Poor Palewiski doesn't seem very convincing in his guise as an American, but luckily for him the people he meets are even less well informed about the country or NYC. And he's too trusting of the people he meets in Venice, but Yashim shows up in time to straighten things out. All ends as well as could be expected.
It was fascinating though somewhat disheartening to read about what Venice and its population were like under Austrian rule. It had become a backwater, commercially as well as physically. The author plays with the similarities and contrasts by giving Donna Leon's Brunetti an counterpart Brunelli [perhaps an ancestor with a spelling change over the years]] with an incompetent Austrian boss.
The plot did get awfully complicated toward the end. I found going back to these pages to be helful: 213-18, 244, 258-68, 272-end. [These are the pages in the hardback edition.] There WERE a couple of minor things that didn't make sense and at least one improbable coincidence [about the contessa's child], but all in all a very satisfying novel.