Hi Maria Grazia,
So glad in your interest in my new novel House of Daughters -- a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a Turkish twist. Here’s how it happened.
Would you believe it, that when I first read Pride and Prejudice as a sophomore at the American College for Girls in Istanbul, Turkey, I had to look up the dictionary definitions of “pride” and “prejudice”? My English was that bad then. So, I missed most of Jane Austen’s exquisite darts at the frailties of human behavior but I definitely got the basic story of a spirited girl putting a proud man in his place and taming him! Since then, I’ve read the book at least once every year and each time I find something new that puts a big appreciative smile on my face.
House of Daughters is my second novel. Waiting for an inspiration to start me on my writing journey, it was not surprising that I’d think about my favorite characters, Elizabeth and Darcy. During the last three decades or so, retelling the story of Elizabeth and Darcy has become very popular as your blog site proves, but so far, no one had dared to imagine them as Turks! So, I said to myself, “why not? Austen’s love story is universal. Let’s see what happens!”
The setting I chose was 1920’s Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was dying. Istanbul was occupied by the British, and the nationalists were busy founding a new republic in Anatolia. This was a turbulent period in Turkish history and it gave me lots of opportunities to get my Turkish versions of Jane Austen’s beloved characters out of the drawing room and into the fray of social, cultural, and political change.
The male characters in my book, including Murat, my Turkish Darcy, are not anything like the dandies of Jane Austen’s England, but Turkish officers involved in a clandestine plot to outsmart the British occupation forces. My Turkish Elizabeth is named Perihan. She’s a smart, intelligent, and courageous woman who flirts with a Scottish officer and extracts vital information that help Murat and the others achieve their goal. I’m certain some of her behavior would have caused Jane Austen to raise her genteel eyebrows. Most of my female figures turn out to be stronger than hers. After all, I was writing not about the early 1800’s but the 1920’s, when the Turkish feminist movement started. So my book should appeal not only to Jane Austen fans but also to those who enjoy reading about strong female characters. I believe it’s a good blend of high romance and exciting adventure in an exotic setting.
Here are some excerpts from House of Daughters when Perihan and Murat meet again after their breakup:
…Perihan has never seen him standing up. Nor dressed. He seemed taller, more powerful, and more masculine. Wavy brown hair made him look younger and more handsome. Much more. She could still feel his cool taut skin under her hands and the ripple of his muscles……Murat was staring at Perihan now, so different from the one in the ill-fitting nursing uniform he had known. Dressed in a full-skirt and a tight-fitting white blouse, this one had a tiny waist that he was certain his hands could encircle easily. A slender neck rose from the open collar she was nervously trying to button. He smiled. That simple act attracted more attention than if she had left it alone.
If you read and like House of Daughters, try my first novel, Loveswept, a romance between a Turkish girl and an Englishman, very loosely based on an incident when I was very, very young.