Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian
I'm going to use the cover description because I think it's well-written without giving away too much:
When Orhan's brilliant and eccentric grandfather, Kemal Türkoglu, who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs, is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But Kemal has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in a retirement home in Los Angeles. Intent on righting this injustice, Orhan unearths a story that, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which Orhan's family is built, a story that could unravel his own future.
Orhan's Inheritance has a dual historical/contemporary storyline and it's unfortunately another book that didn't grab me for almost the same reasons as the book I mentioned yesterday, What She Knew. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the woman who has inherited Orhan's home is a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. The author makes that clear pretty early on; she's living in a home for elderly people of Armenian descent and when the narrative shifts to the historical viewpoint, it's immediately evident that the genocide is about to occur.
Well, heck, maybe I'm just having a hard time with hard times. When I started reading Orhan's Inheritance, I just didn't know if I wanted to go through the genocide portions of the book. It is such a horrifying period of history. However, it's also an important one because it's not as widely known (and not acknowledged by Turkey, to this day, from my understanding) that I took a break from the book and then returned to it when I felt like I could move forward.
Recommended but not a favorite - I didn't dislike Orhan's Inheritance; I just found it difficult to get through because I'm not tolerating sad books very well, lately. Again, I must repeat that I'm having a weird reading year and I need to work harder at setting books aside when they're not working for me. I've found in the past that timing is everything; I'm a very moody reader. And, Orhan's Inheritance is a good story that evokes the time and place well. I am having difficulty reading tragic books but I definitely recommend it, particularly to lovers of historical fiction.
Side note: I had never heard of the Armenian Genocide till I read The Sandcastle Girls, a few years ago. I reread that review and found that I was confused when I read The Sandcastle Girls (I mentioned needing maps and having to look up the genocide because of the fact that I knew nothing about it). This time, I had no trouble with the time and place because I was already familiar with it.
Good news: Tomorrow's review is about a book I absolutely loved. And, I am definitely working harder at sticking to my usual, "If it's not clicking, set it aside," commitment. Maybe it's not always bad to be reminded of what works for you.
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