The Bellini Card: A Novel (Yashim the Eunuch, 3) MP3 CD – Unabridged, April 20, 2009
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About the Author
Actor Stephen Hoye is a graduate of London's Guildhall and a veteran of London's West End. An award-winning audiobook narrator, he has won thirteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and two prestigious APA Audie Awards.
- Publisher : Tantor Audio; MP3 - Unabridged CD edition (April 20, 2009)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 140016012X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400160129
- Item Weight : 0.032 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #13,818,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It is strange that, despite being a eunuch, Yashim seemed to have had intimate close encounters with ravishing foreign females in every story. It just goes to show that sex is more than just intercourse. As there was no danger of conception, in the harem parlance, it’s “vegetarian diet”.
The author must really love cooking and dedicated many pages describing Turkish recipes and cooking instructions in every one of his books. It seems that every dish involved dicing onions and mincing garlic, then you add lemon juice. In French cooking, there is a saying, “When in doubt, add more wine.” In Mediterranean cooking, the saying is. “When in doubt, add more garlic.” With garlic and lemon, of course everything tastes good.
I was disappointed that the famous eight-pointed stars that made the endless knots and links, popular in Islamic decorations and the main pattern symbol of the story, was not on the cover. Instead, the cover showed a design of repeating squares and triangles making isolated pyramids, not links nor knots, which has nothing to do with Islam.
There is a minor confusion here – In his prior book “The Evil Eye” which took place about 1839, the bridge linking Istanbul and Pera was completed and an opening celebration was held. But, in this book which took place around 1840, they were just beginning to build the bridge. Did the bridge of 1839 collapse?
Count Palewiski was a minor character in the previous 2 books, but here has a more prominent role. I thought he rose to the occasion. He's not as talented as his friend Yashim is, but that makes him more relatable to me. I was touched by the fact that, after so many years in Istanbul, it took a stay in Venice to make him realize his true home is no longer Poland.
Poor Palewiski doesn't seem very convincing in his guise as an American, but luckily for him the people he meets are even less well informed about the country or NYC. And he's too trusting of the people he meets in Venice, but Yashim shows up in time to straighten things out. All ends as well as could be expected.
It was fascinating though somewhat disheartening to read about what Venice and its population were like under Austrian rule. It had become a backwater, commercially as well as physically. The author plays with the similarities and contrasts by giving Donna Leon's Brunetti an counterpart Brunelli [perhaps an ancestor with a spelling change over the years]] with an incompetent Austrian boss.
The plot did get awfully complicated toward the end. I found going back to these pages to be helful: 213-18, 244, 258-68, 272-end. [These are the pages in the hardback edition.] There WERE a couple of minor things that didn't make sense and at least one improbable coincidence [about the contessa's child], but all in all a very satisfying novel.
The 19th century Venice described here is a poor and decaying place, stifled by the Austrian occupation. The moral corruption equals the physical, which Goodwin renders well by contrasting the stagnant Venetian lagoon and its ill humors with the clean, bracing air of the Bosphorus. It is a time of transition in the Ottoman empire, too, as a young, new Sultan leads the Turkish empire into its final decline.
Yashim remains an appealing character, but unfortunately Goodwin chose to make Palewsky the center of attention for most of the novel. This Polish ambassador without a country, the closest thing Yashim has to a Dr. Watson, has always been a weak and poorly drawn character. Nor is Goodwin able to use this opportunity to flesh him out. He remains a dull and largely dull-witted personality.
There are other flaws. Goodwin introduces a courtesan who Palewsky's guide hires to warm his bed. She of course turns out to be a wonderful person, which is already a stretch, but she apparently, despite her profession, lives at home as a well-respected member of her family and a devout churchgoer. Sorry, can't suspend my disbelief that much.
Goodwin seems to delight in having his eunuch detective bed the beauty in each book, without probing into the physical and emotional sensitivities this entails. They are invariably enamored of him for reasons the reader is left to guess at. The byzantine plot is even murkier than usual this time. The final climactic scene -- Yashim's hand to hand fight with a Tatar in the mud of a canal trench emptied for dredging -- matches the earlier books with struggles in a tannery and large underground cistern, but is hard to follow.
Goodwin clearly wanted to vary the formula a bit by changing venues. We still have Yashim cooking his lovely Ottoman concoctions, still have the obligatory visit to the valide -- the original Sultan's mother and grandmother to the new Sultan, and the Greek vegetable vendor whose dialogue is incongruously rendered in ungrammatical English. A little more variation might have helped. Goodwin seems more attached to these little rituals than his readers might be.
Top reviews from other countries
She is very selective about what she thinks is a good read in these categories ..... Her favourite authors include Anne Perry and Patrick Easter. I know she thinks these are a very good easy read with interesting stories woven among the back streets of Istanbul ....... "I can almost smell the spices and rotting vegetation of the markets" she tells me.