Synopses & Reviews
In this dazzling novel set in the Ottoman Empire during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, best-selling Turkish author Solmaz Kamuran has brought to life a woman known to history only in glimpses.
Esther Handali (nicknamed "Kiraze," or "Cherry") was the widow of an Istanbul rabbi and daughter of a family that had fled the Spanish Inquisition. She established herself during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent as a kyra an intermediary between the women of the seraglio and the world outside the harem to which they were confined. Entrusted with the worldly desires of the sultan's concubines as well as with their hopes, fears, and news of their illicit liaisons, her connection to the Imperial Palace ended only under Mehmet III, Suleiman's great-grandson.
Esther's longevity in such a sensitive position owed much to her charisma, intelligence and resourcefulness, as well as her ability to sidestep and manipulate the dangerous politics of the harem. Inevitably, however, sheeventually succumbed to the intrigues of the Palace: a careless indiscretion led to her downfall and persecution at the hands of a mob, with unspeakably dreadful results . . .
Solmaz Kamuran was born in 1954 in Istanbul and worked as a dentist until deciding to devote herself to her writing career. Kiraze, her first novel, sold three hundred thousand copies in Turkey. She acquired a reputation amongst academics for her expertise in this historical period, and was invited to address the Sorbonne at a conference on the history of Sephardic history and literature."