Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk .

It is a perfect spring day in Istanbul. Kemal, a wealthy heir, is about to become engaged to the aristocratic Sibel when he encounters Fusun, a beautiful shopgirl. He falls in love and finds his established world of westernised families, opulent parties, society gossip and dining-room rituals is shattered.

The Museum of Innocence is a love story that was written in the first person singular. It is not sentimental or girly but a love story from a bloke's point of view. It is very easy for men to relate to Kemal as this book explores the nature of love and how memories can be remembered through the collection of objects. Orhan really explains through this novel just how men fall in love and what the connection to their mate means as part of their life. He tells how being a part of a relationship is so very different to all other friendships. Also how spending quality time with the one you love brings true happiness. The Museum of Innocence is a long story at 728 pages, which was published in 2009 but it's length is not due to padding. It is a long novel so that the reader gains a full perspective to Kemal's story. There are two sad but very emotional endings and nothing is left unresolved.

The Museum of Innocence is full of local colour and you feel a part of this novel and the families involved. Orhan explains Turkish culture really well. On page 446 Orhan writes...

Conservative newspapers like Milli Gazete, Tercuman and Hergun were forever fulminating against New Year's Eve, which, thanks to tombala, the National Lottery, all this card playing, and the ubiquitous promotions for restaurants and nightclubs, was slowly turning into an orgy of drinking and gambling. When some rich Muslim families in Sisli and Nisantasi began buying pine trees to decorate and display in windows the way Christians did in films, I remember that even my mother felt uneasy, but because these were people she knew, she refrained from calling them "degenerates" or "infidels" as the religious press would, dismissing them rather as "harebrained."

...I really enjoyed reading this book, it is a quality read and deserves top marks. When you read this book you can understand just why Orhan Pamuk won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. I will vote the Museum of Innocence the top mark of 5 stars on Book Army because I can't find a fault with this book. This novel was translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely. It is such a good translation that it makes you think those are Orhan's words and that English is his first language. The text employs a huge vocabulary with very expressive and precise words. This is not a Janet and John book! When you finish reading this novel you feel as though you have lived with Kemal in Istanbul for over 30 years.

Tesekkur ederim.
Interesting.. Most of the readers had given very negative feedback on this book. Hence, I decided to give skip this one. People are put off by its size and some say, if told in 200 pages, this would have been a good book..

Will try picking it up for reading later.
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