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What I’m Reading: Silk Armor by Claire Sydenham

POSTED BY prbythebook ON December 16, 2013

 by Elena Meredith, Publicist, @ElenaMeredith

Silk_ArmorI’ve always dreamt of living abroad for a time or taking a year to travel, but alas, have not gotten to it—yet! So for now, I line my bookshelves with travel essays and live vicariously through their authors’ experiences. When I picked up Claire Sydenham’s Silk Armor, I was looking for that experience—and found it.

Set in Turkey, the story follows two Turkish girls, Didem and Sevgi, and two American teachers at their university—one of whom Didem begins a secret and forbidden love affair with. It’s a cultural clash of Turkish vs. American ideals, Muslim vs. Catholic faith, old vs. new values, family vs. independence. Much of it is shown through the eyes of the female teacher—Claire, who did in fact teach English in Turkey. (She includes a pronunciation guide to the Turkish names at the beginning of the book.)

I love reading fictional accounts of people’s personal stories. They say truth is stranger than fiction—which usually makes it evident which parts of the story actually happened. You can sense the real emotion in the story, as the author/protagonist begins to see and understand Turkey’s evolving culture, the reason Muslim women wear the veil (their “silk armor”), and her own role in a tangle of deceit.

Written in a nonlinear narrative, the story weaves a poignant tale of the characters’ struggles to find their place in the world. A masterful debut from Sydenham.


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