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Valide: A Novel of the Harem Hardcover – June, 1986


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Hardcover, June, 1986
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When a sultan of the Ottoman Empire died, even the horses in his funeral procession (aided by pepper placed under their lids) wept. Alive, he had access to an eighth of the world's riches, a harem of nearly 400 women and his murder-minded heirs, all of whom were kept under virtual house arrest pending his demise. This is the world that Chase-Riboud, the prize-winning author of Sally Hemmings, painstakingly evokes. Her book is moored to an irresistible historic footnote; that in 1741, a French-American girl of 14, captured by Algerian pirates at sea, was forcibly placed in the sultan's Istanbul harem where she later bore him a son whose own accession to the throne made her an empress. So long as it adheres to this story, Valide is consistently interesting. The scenes of life in Topkapi Palace and a bewildered girl's perceptions of it, more than make up for the author's superficial characterization. A greater and ultimately debilitating fault lies with Chase-Riboud's tendency to stray too far afield: readers suddenly find themselves in France with Napoleon, at a gaming table in Russia or on the high seas with John Paul Jones. Because of this, the narrative, though often engrossing, falls short of its exceptional promise.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A valide is a sultan's mother who administers the sultan's harem of several hundred women. Based on historical facts, this is the story of a young girl from Martinique, captured by pirates in the late 1700s, who eventually becomes a favorite of the Ottoman sultan, bears the son who succeeds him, and becomes Valide. There are detailed descriptions here of various methods of making eunuchs, the elaborate preparations of young virgins to sexually serve the sultan, the debauchery of the sultan's female relatives who must be sterilized so they can never bear a royal rival, and the precise and often varied sexual predilections of a large number of characters, including Catherine the Great . Deadly harem intrigues are juxtaposed with imperial ones in this mildly diverting historical romance. Chase-Riboud is the author of the controversial novel Sally Hemings . Patricia Y. Morton, State Lib. of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 429 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (June 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688043348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688043346
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By DevoursEbooks on December 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent interpretation of the fascinating story of Aimee Dubuc de Rivery. I'm a believer. This is one of the four books I have read and enjoyed that mentioned this fleeting mystery figure in history. Three of the four were primarily about this character, and one made her a supporting character. This book is my favorite of the four. It's very vivid, inspiring, romantic, wonderful, and sexy. Through this novel I was transported to the Turkish Ottoman Empire and behind the forbidden walls of the harem. I was caught up in the intrigue and struggles for power and survival, the opulence, the danger, and the idea of a fate that is not entirely your own to choose. I highly, highly recommend this book. If you love historical fiction with strong women characters, intrigue, luxury, inspiration... read this book. I love it. One of my new favorites.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dorian M. on January 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Love, sex, intrigue, friendship...and all of it happening in a far, far away land! What else could a person ask for in a book? This is an incredibly detail-rich tale that alllows one's imagination to run wild. While there's no way to actually verify the most minute details of the working of a real harem (no one I know has been to one), it's easy to allow the book to create powerful imagery in one's mind. I loved this book, and read it quite a few times. A great read, a good addition for your fiction library, and TOTALLY engrossing!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amy N. Stewart on December 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book about the inner-workings of the Harem. Ms.Chase-Riboud must have put an incredible amount of time and effort into her research. The story flows like water and keeps your attention from begining to end. I highly recommend the book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
I found this book invalueable in delving into the much hidden world of the middle east, harems and the practice of capturing "white slaves" for the sultans. This book tells the story of an actual woman in history who became the favorite of the harem and her trials and victories.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karla Tonella on February 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Not just an historical tale, but a meditation on the contradictions of privilege and power within oppression. Powerfully written, erotic in places, and always capable of putting the reader into the time and place. Chase-Riboud also wrote the novel _Sally Hemmings_ which was much better than the made-for-TV movie (for which she got no credit).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ra on November 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read this book wanting more information on the Middle Eastern "white slave" trade: was it the same or was it vastly different from African-American slavery in the U.S.? Why romance novelists want to continuously romanticize it by placing every other heroine in a harem or zenanna is beyond me! Life was NOT the pampered, love-your-captivating master illusion often pedalled by publishers out to make a fast buck - it was often brutish, ugly, and nasty, punctuated most often by ineffable boredom, fear, and ruthless (sometimes murderous) competition to stay on top of the heap. Ms. Chase-Riboud writes with such incredible historical detail; I think I learned more about history during the timeperiod she was writing about than I ever learned in school! I understood some of the underlying causes of the fall of the Ottoman empire before reading this wonderful work but will supplement (by reading non-fiction works about that period/region) what I've picked up from her incredible story of a white Creole woman, whose name was forever lost to history, who became Valide - mother of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, the most powerful woman in the Empire, whose word was law -- from slave to mistress & co-ruler of an illustrious culture. I also highly recommend 2 of Ms. Chase-Riboud's other books (for a greater insight to the abomination that was African-American slavery here in the U.S.), 'Sally Hemings' and 'The President's Daughter'.

Happy reading!!
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