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The Flea Palace by Elif Şafak
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The Flea Palace (2002)

by Elif Şafak

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English (6)  Dutch (3)  Italian (1)  All languages (10)
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This is a fictional story about several inhabitants of a house. Although the characters and their lives are invented, they reflect Turkish society in Istanbul. There is a hairdressing salon, which is led by twin brothers and mainly serves a meeting place to gossip about everyday especially on the residents. But the twins also have a colorful past, as they were separated as children. One lived with his father in Australia while the other with his mother in Turkey remained. The caretaker family fights especially with the vagaries of the pregnant woman and her son, who does not want go to school. In the basement there lives a student with his strange dog. The student grew up in Switzerland and went for study back to Turkey. He spends his time prevail with drugs and alcohol. There is a family that mostly holed up in their apartment. Their daughter struggles with her weak self-confidence which is also reflected on her skin. In another apartment a grandfather lives with his grandchildren and daughter. While she is to work, the grandfather tells to the grandchildren old traditional stories, which the mother doesn't like the. In the next apartment lives a couple whose husband beat his wife so that she has to go to hospital. Furthermore, there is a mistress, which is sustained by an olive oil merchant. She has strong psychological problems and scratches regularly. In another apartment, a woman is living with her daughter. The woman has mania for cleanliness, therefore often are objects flying out of the window. The daughter is strong in puberty and tries to escape from the clutches of her mother. An elderly lady who lives in the largest apartment is a messy and collects everything, even things that are washed from the sea shore. Last but not least there is the narrator, who has a big drinking problem.
I liked the story, because it is true to life. Each figure reflects a part of society. The end was quite surprising. ( )
  Ameise1 | Mar 23, 2016 |
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 |
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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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