Cover Image: Without a Country

Without a Country

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Member Reviews

Unfortunately what could have been a really good book, was in fact just average. How much of this is due to the translation I'm not sure, but the story didn't live up to the great family saga that I had been lead to expect.

Spanning approximately 100 years, from pre WWII Germany to 21st century Turkey, it had all the elements of a great story - jews escaping from the nazi's, new life established in Turkey, four generations of strong women, building of modern Turkey, various love stories etc. but it didn't really gel, which is a disappointment.

I'd like to read another story by this author, as I'm hoping that it is the translation that let this story down for me.
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Unfortunately what could have been a really good book, was in fact just average. How much of this is due to the translation I'm not sure, but the story didn't live up to the great family saga that I had been lead to expect.

Spanning approximately 100 years, from pre WWII Germany to 21st century Turkey, it had all the elements of a great story - jews escaping from the nazi's, new life established in Turkey, four generations of strong women, building of modern Turkey, various love stories etc. but it didn't really gel, which is a disappointment.

I'd like to read another story by this author, as I'm hoping that it is the translation that let this story down for me.
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The review will be added after publication in the November 2018 issue of the Historical Novels Review magazine.
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The problem with this novel is that it’s just too ambitious. To encapsulate the entire history of modern Turkey – from 1933 to the present – through the story of four generations of one family covers too much ground and involves too many characters, leading to a lack of depth in the characterisation and a rather bewildering gallop through a complex era full of incident. The author tackles a lot of weighty themes – identity, nationality, culture, loyalty, anti-Semitism, Jewishness and so on - but doesn't give herself time to properly explore them. The result is a rather sketchy account that left me feeling unsatisfied. Based on the true story of neuropathologist Professor Philipp Schwartz, who was one of a number of eminent Jewish scientists and doctors invited by the Turkish government to work in academia in order to help Turkey modernise, and who were thus given the opportunity to escape Hitler’s Germany, it follows Gerhard and Elsa Schliemann and their descendants as they adapt to life in another country and culture. The narrative style is flat and clunky (of the “he said this and then she did that” manner) and feels somewhat turgid and plodding. An interesting concept but poorly executed. There was scope here for a number of books, but packing it all into one just doesn’t work.
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I have read several other books by Ayse Kulin, and enjoyed them as I did this one. As I lived in Turkey for some years I have a particular interest in its history and culture, and learned quite a bit from this book! I hadn't known that Jews fleeing Nazi Germany had been invited to Turkey to overhaul and modernise the universities. This is the story of the Schliemann family who arrive in Istanbul with such an invitation, and narrates through several generations as they become more (or less) 'naturalised' Turks in many ways. I thought it most interesting, although perhaps a little rushed towards the end in trying to fit so many things in. 
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.
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This is the story of a Jewish family during WWII who flee Germany for Turkey. It was a good read, I enjoyed reading about a part of the world one doesn't normally associate with WWII novels. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, especially stories where Jews and the Nazis are concerned. This book was a little different to many stories that i have read, mainly due to the family making Turkey their home after fleeing Germany.   This was a very enjoyable book and the further i read, the quicker i was turning the pages.   I am not going to write about the story, as i do prefer one to read the book for themselves, but i do recommend this wonderful saga.

My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy.  This is my honest review.
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A novel based on true events that depicts the lives of 4 generations.   Gerhard and Elsa, a Jewish couple, along with all Jews in Germany faced persecution and/or  death under Hitler..  Searching for escape they and some of their fellows Jews were fortunate to be welcomed into Turkey as Medical doctors  and Scientist.   But their welcome was short lived.  A member of each generation tells their stories of being bullied or persecuted but also of love, marriage, family and friends.  Becoming a Turkish citizen and a Muslim did not exclude even the fourth generation of being accused of being a German Jew.
 A fascinating book which I highly recommend, I hope she writes a sequel.    I give it 4.1/2 stars.
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Thanks to Kenneth Dakan for translating Ayse Kulin’s book from the original Turkish publication and giving readers the opportunity to experience Turkey over four generations with a Jewish family - the Schlimanns. In the 1930s, Dr. Gerhard and Elsa Schlimann and their young family fled Germany and via Switzerland settle in Turkey. One of many Jewish families, the Schlimanns begin a new life in Istanbul, each generation attempting to integrate into Turkish society in their own way - each at a different pace and desire. As much as each generation believes it has assimilated, the age-old challenge of where and how one belongs surfaces - especially for a Jewish family. The novel tightly scopes out Turkey’s history - from the 1930s to 2016 - it’s a great look back at Turkey’s history and accompanying society, political upheavals and culture - nicely compacted in just over 300 pages - quite a feat. I enjoyed the story line and the strong women characters - Elsa, Suze, Sude and Esra - each leaving their mark on successive generations of the Schlimanns, while grappling with challenges - not quite always on an expected trajectory - as in the case of Sude, but that’s life. A well-worth read and a definite recommend, especially since it’s set in Turkey - one of favorite country settings! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read in advance.
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Susan: @thebooktrailer

This book tells the story of a family, in this case the Schliemann family (Don’t think it's based on actual people but probably inspired by so many), who move to Turkey over several years during and following the 2ww

The role of Turkey in the war is not one I’ve read much about before. It’s not a country that we often think of an involved in this war for some reason. The persecution of the Jews for example is  a story we’re all familiar with but I hadn’t read much at all about Turkey’s help and involvement during this time. It was a fascinating read in that regard.


The story is told through the generations and I did think that the initial story which begins with Gerhard and Elsa was the strongest and the best told. Everyone in the family who follows is affected by them and their fate, but their stories were quicker and less developed. However, I have to praise the author for such an nice and easy to read text given the level of research and complexity of the subject matter.

I always read Ayse Kulin's books and this was a poignantly painful yet interesting read.
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When I saw this available as ARC I immediately clicked as I've read and really enjoyed Kulin's Last Train to Istanbul. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but when I do, this is the kind I enjoy - a good story, but one that opens up a window onto a part of history that perhaps isn't very well known. I knew that as persecution of the Jews in Germany escalated prior to the second world war, many managed to escape and live overseas - I knew for example many scientists found a new home in America. But I hadn't known there was a large movement to Turkey, as is described in this book. After the founding of Turkey, Ataturk encouraged German scientists, including Jews who had lost employment at home, to come and work in his universities and help modernize the country. This book tells the story of the Schliemann family (I don't think it's based on actual people), who move to Turkey as part of this, over several generations from WW2 to the present day. 
I enjoyed the story, but found that after the initial story of Gerhard and Elsa, it felt that we moved through each new generation very quickly, and I would have liked to get to know the different characters as well as we knew the first two. It was a pretty quick, easy read, and I think a little more around the characters would have only been a good thing. The ending seemed to happen very quickly, but maybe that's just my endless desire for things to be resolved at the end of the books I read! Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction.

I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you for giving me the opertunity to read and review this book prior to its publication date. Do events in my personal life, unfortunately I will not able to read this book prior to the Publication date. When I initially asked to read the book I found the premise to be interesting. I am looking forward to the release of other titles in your upcoming publican catalog. I would love to have the oppertunity again to read future publication titles. Thank you for your generosity and the time you spent reviewing my request to read this book. 

I am required to give a star rating on netgally but will not be posting a review or giving a star rating for a book I have not read in its entirety on other patforms.
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This family saga begins as a German pathologist learns that he must leave Berlin immediately: Hitler is beginning to round up Jews. He and his family eventually relocate to Turkey, where he is instrumental in bringing other displaced Jewish doctors and scientists to staff the new Istanbul University. He and his daughter begin the assimilation process by learning Turkish, while his wife and son continue to see themselves as German. This story of life in exile recounts how different people react to cataclysmic changes in their lives.  Some evolve, some struggle for answers. 
Kulin recounts the story of three generations of this family’s life in Turkey through the bloodline of the daughter.  Suzanne began referring to herself as “Suzan” and “Suzi”. As she assimilates, she begins to think of herself as “Ataturk’s daughter”. She eventually marries her childhood sweetheart and becomes Turkish and a Muslim. But as time passes her daughter and granddaughter are both faced with anti-Semitism, even though they were raised as Muslim.  
 I became involved with this story early on and was intrigued with the historical aspect of Turkey at the beginning of World War II. As the novel progressed, I found the historical aspect more interesting than the storyline. Kulin presents Turkey from the 1930 through today. I felt like I was getting a 30,000 ft. view of Turkish history with their political coups, uprisings and demonstrations. It is interesting that she introduces into this fictional story some people who did seek sanctuary in Turkey, notably law professor Ernst E. Hirsh; physicist Arthur Von Hippel; and composer Eduard Zuckmayer. These three men, as well as many others, made significant contributions to Ataturk’s desire to modernize Turkey.
I’m glad that I read this book because it gave me a better understanding of Turkish history. As I was reading it, I thought the story was sometimes light. After some consideration, I think the book was better than I originally thought. Books are meant to educate us, and to make us think. Since I have changed my opinion of this book as I have reflected on it, I must say that Kulin succeeded in making me think of those without a country.
My thanks to NetGalley, Amazon Crossing and Ayse Kulin for an advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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Without a country is without much depth. It is hard for me to decide if it’s the story of the last 80 years of Turkey’s history, told in a cursory way or if it’s a story of the generations of a family whose Jewish patriarch left German and was taken in by Turkey, via Switzerland, and its subsequent female focused generations who loved, or didn’t, and who procreated females, each of whom chose different paths, often oblivious to their Jewish roots. In either case, the book is superficial. The story is told mostly in third person voice until the contemporaneous Esra who tells her story in the first person. While parts of the story is engaging, most of it is not.  The book seems more an outline for a tv serious than a serious novel.
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3.5 Stars

I'm not sure what to think of this book. As I first prepared to write this review I was not a huge fan, but in writing a draft of it, my mind has changed just a bit. I originally thought that there was not enough individual character development, and I am still leaning towards this, but now I can see the beauty in seeing how a family and people can change in relation to their country and their government.

This book tells the story of a family of German Jews who have moved to Turkey and made a life there prior to the start of WWII. It traces the family through several generations and tells their stories in relation to the country they now have to call home: Turkey. 

While I still wish there were more details about the lives and actions of the family told about in this book, I can see how the author used the backdrop of Turkey's political unrest over a period of generations to show the changes in thinking of the family members and how that evolved over time.

This book didn't seem so much to be a story of these individual family members, but rather a family unit in a tumultuous country in a chaotic time period and how that can affect the family as a whole. It is not the usual type of book I read in that regard. I am much more accustomed to learning about a couple individuals very well and knowing them inside and out rather than broadly learning a family system.

I did enjoy this book. I read it quickly and was able to become immersed in it at times, but I still would not say that I loved it. I think this is due to my reading preferences than anything done by the author, however, as I was pretty hooked in the earlier chapters that centered more on just a few characters and their lives.

**Many thanks to Ayse Kulin, AmazonCrossing and NetGalley for an advanced e-book in exchange for an honest review.
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What a book! So entertaining and educational at the same time! And so well written, the story just sucks you in and never lets go.
You will fall in love with Elsa and her whole family. The story of Jews in occupied Germany and Turkey, all the struggles and triumphs are well worth it.
Highly recommended!!!
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