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The Flea Palace by Elif Şafak

The Flea Palace (2002)

by Elif Şafak

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288939,063 (3.57)14
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English (5)  Dutch (3)  Italian (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 5 of 5
In all honesty I really liked this book and would have given it 4* rather than 3.5*, but I think it was really let down by the ending (spoiler: think Bobby Ewing in the shower). ( )
  Jackie_K | Sep 2, 2012 |
An interesting idea: the lives of ten completely different families sharing the same building, very independent from each other but still somehow interconnected. Unfortunately the interest in the storyline quickly wanes until the final twist in the very last pages. ( )
1 vote celuca | Dec 11, 2010 |
It reads like the Thousand and one Nights. The stories within stories are independent of each other, yet linked at times. The language uses dualisms to make the contradctions and connectedness clear. ( )
  dragon178 | Sep 21, 2009 |
The Flea Palace was short listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2006 and so I had high hopes for it. Elif Shafak has created a meandering novel filled with odd and flawed characters - all living in a run down apartment building in Istanbul. The blurb on the back of the book states: '...we have a metaphoric conduit for the cultural and spiritual decay at the heart of Istanbul.' Perhaps my boredom with this novel stems from my ignorance of the culture and religion of Turkey.

Shafak begins the novel in reverse - starting in the present, spiraling back to the past, then surging forward into the future. She presents Agripina Fyodorovna Atipova, a white Russian with a tragic background whose husband ultimately brings her to Istanbul and builds a magnificent apartment building atop an old cemetery. The BonBon Palace becomes the setting for the rest of the novel.

I have to give Shafak a little credit - she develops rich characters who people the story with their oddities. The problem is the story itself, which is so convoluted at times it is difficult to follow its purpose. I must admit to feeling a bit like one of the characters when he observes: 'So many details, so many introductory statements, so many stories whirling circles within circles that never get to the point...'

There is a mystery (where is the stench around BonBon Palace coming from!??!) and Shafak eventually ties up the loose ends - but ultimately the novel did not capture me and I was glad to turn the final page and move onto my next book.

Not recommended. ( )
  writestuff | Jun 15, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Vanzelfsprekend, hoe dan ook voor mijn moeder Shafak, de dageraad
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La gente dice che ho una mente fantasiosa - probabilmente il modo più gentile mai inventato per dire: "Tu vaneggi!".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0714531200, Paperback)

“She has a particular genius for depicting backstreet Istanbul, where the myriad cultures of the Ottoman Empire are still in tangled evidence on every family tree.”—The New York Times Book Review

Set within a once-stately apartment block in Istanbul, The Flea Palace tells the story of Bonbon Palace, built by Russian noble émigré Pavel Antipov for his wife Agripina at the end of the Tsarist reign. It is now sadly dilapidated, flea-infested, and home to ten very different individuals and their families. Elif Shafak gives us a bird’s-eye insight into each apartment, and we see their comic and tragic lives unfold.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A stately residence in Istanbul, now home to ten families, is a metaphoric conduit for the cultural and spiritual decay in the heart of the city.

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